NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Drew Brees was pulled at halftime with a rib injury after passing for just 76 yards and one touchdown, but Alvin Kamara scored three times and New Orleans’ defense largely stifled San Francisco to help the Saints secure a 27-13 victory over the 49ers on Sunday.
Brees’ injury appeared to occur when defensive tackle Kentavius Street was called for a personal foul on a sack in which he got a clean shot at the 41-year-old quarterback and landed directly on top of him. Officials ruled Street violated the NFL’s “bodyweight rule,” which bans defenders from landing on a defenseless passer with all or most of their weight.
Brees missed just two plays after the hit and returned for a third-down pitchback to Kamara that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown that tied it at 10.
Brees continued to play for the rest of the second quarter, going 5 for 6 on a two-minute drive that he completed with a 3-yard touchdown toss to Kamara that made it 17-10 just before halftime.
But when the second half began, Jameis Winston took the field while Brees stood with his helmet on and his hands on his hips in front of New Orleans’ bench, where he watched the rest of the Saints’ sixth straight victory.
Winston completed six of 10 passes for 63 yards. Several of his passes were not near the intended target and one was nearly intercepted by safety Jimmie Ward, who dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. Read option QB Taysom Hill also took snaps periodically.
Nick Mullens passed for 247 yards and a 4-yard touchdown to Brandon Aiyuk on San Francisco’s first series. But he also was intercepted twice in Saints territory, once by safety Malcolm Jenkins and once by cornerback Patrick Robinson.
The Niners had little success against New Orleans’ second-ranked run defense, gaining just 49 yards on the ground.
Kamara, as he has been most of the season, was New Orleans’ most productive skill player, gaining 98 yards from scrimmage, including 83 yards on seven receptions.
The Niners raced to a 10-0 lead, but their own mistakes helped New Orleans respond with 27 straight points.
Kamara’s first and third TDs were set up by turnovers on 49ers punt returns. The first occurred in the second quarter when the ball glanced off the shoulder of Ken Webster, who was trying to block on the play but ventured too close to where the punt bounced. The second came after a muff by returner Richie James.
Saints undrafted rookie receiver Marquez Callaway recovered both lost punts inside the San Francisco 25.
49ers: Running back JaMycal Hasty was examined by medical staff and walked off the field in the fourth quarter.
Saints: In addition to Brees, receiver Tre’Quan Smith appeared to be briefly knocked unconscious on a hit by Ward while trying to make a catch over the middle in the second quarter. He left the game with concussion symptoms. Tight end Josh Hill also left the game with a concussion in the second half. Left tackle Terron Armstead appeared to injure his right ankle in the fourth quarter. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown injured his calf. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore left with an oblique injury, but could be seen standing on the sideline without his helmet in the second half, urging on teammates and even dancing at times.
49ers: Head into their bye week, followed by a visit to the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 29.
Saints: Host Atlanta next Sunday.