San Francisco 49ers

49ers report card

▪ Offense: The 49ers’ offense got back to basics early with two rushing touchdowns. However, the unit continues to be a no-show in the second half and – save for one 51-yard, desperation heave in the fourth quarter – needed the defense to rescue it in New Orleans. Grade: C

▪ Defense: The unit had a hard time with rookie wide receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Jimmy Graham. But Vic Fangio’s no-name defense kept the 49ers in the game and then turned in its most crucial play when Ahmad Brooks stripped Drew Brees of the ball late. Grade: B+

▪ Special teams: The return game continues to be mediocre at best, and punter Andy Lee had two more lackluster punts after last week’s critical misfire. But Phil Dawson tied the game with a 45-yard field goal and won it with one from 35 yards. Grade: B

▪ Overall: The 49ers kept their postseason hopes alive with a gutsy victory in one of the most inhospitable environments in the NFL. Grade: A

Matt Barrows