San Francisco 49ers

Harris, Patton deliver unexpected pop

DuJuan Harris started his first game of the season against the Saints and averaged 5.9 yards a carry.
DuJuan Harris started his first game of the season against the Saints and averaged 5.9 yards a carry. pkitakagi@sacbee.com

DuJuan Harris wore a Batman T-shirt beneath his uniform Sunday. The Flash, however, might have been more appropriate.

Making his first start of the season, Harris finished with 142 all-purpose yards, including a 47-yard catch-and-run in which he streaked past several Saints defenders before reaching the end zone.

Harris’ performance was one of two big efforts by often overlooked offensive players. Receiver Quinton Patton had six catches for 106 yards, the first 100-yard receiving outing since he was drafted in 2013.

“I think it’s something that the defense really dictated – the coverages, the play calls – all those things go into who gets the ball and when,” quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “And (Patton) did a great job, when the ball did come his way, of making plays.”

Harris, meanwhile, started because Carlos Hyde still is recovering from the shoulder injury he suffered Oct. 16 against Buffalo. Harris took the lion’s share of carries in Hyde’s absence – Mike Davis had two, Shaun Draughn none – and averaged 5.9 yards on 10 tries. He also averaged 16.6 yards on his five catches, giving the 49ers some pop they previously have not seen from the position.

“He plays hard,” Kaepernick said of Harris, who began the season as the 49ers’ No. 4 running back and who has spent time on the practice squad. “And that’s ultimately what you want from players, the willingness to go out and give everything they have every play and be willing to make plays.”

Penalty plan – With eight seconds left in the first half and the ball on San Francisco’s 13-yard line, the Saints wanted to take one shot at the end zone before settling for a short field goal.

The 49ers didn’t let them. At the snap, the team’s defensive backs grabbed hold of the Saints receivers, willingly taking three defensive holding penalties – to cornerbacks Keith Reaser and Jimmie Ward and to safety Eric Reid.

The Saints gained five yards but lost four seconds, leaving only time for a 26-yard field goal.

“That’s something we work on during the week,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “It worked out exactly like we wanted it to.”

Third-quarter blues – Phil Dawson’s 46-yard field goal was the 49ers’ first third-quarter score since Oct. 6. They have only 13 points in the quarter this season.

It looked as if the team would score a touchdown on its first drive of the half, but Davis, who had ball-security issues in the preseason, lost a fumble on New Orleans’ 1-yard line.

Golden shovel The jet-sweep play, which involves a short shovel pass from Kaepernick to Patton as he streaks along the formation, gained 31 yards in the first quarter.

That play was successful earlier this year against the Bills, gaining 17 and 11 yards per try.

Et cetera – For the second straight game, defensive lineman Arik Armstead left the field after aggravating his left shoulder injury and did not return. Armstead initially injured the shoulder early in training camp and has said it may require surgery. Tony Jerod-Eddie and rookie Ronald Blair filled in.

▪ Reid, linebacker Eli Harold and linebacker Nick Bellore all had to be helped off the field but later returned to the game. Wide receiver Torrey Smith dealt with his recurring back issue and was on the bench at game’s end.

▪ Kaepernick finished with 398 passing yards, the sixth 300-yard passing game of his career and the first time he’s gone over 200 yards this season.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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