NEW ORLEANS – Colin Kaepernick ran for one score that he made look easy and threw for a touchdown in another performance that validated coach Jim Harbaugh’s decision to start him.
The San Francisco defense added its share of big plays and the 49ers ended the New Orleans Saints’ three-game winning streak, 31-21 on Sunday.
Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returned interceptions for touchdowns and the 49ers sacked Drew Brees five times.
Kaepernick was solid in his second career start while Alex Smith, deemed healthy enough to suit up after recovering from a concussion, watched from the sideline. Kaepernick passed for 231 yards, including a short touchdown to Frank Gore. He also ran for a 7-yard score. He threw his first career interception, but it was inconsequential.
Brees finished with 267 yards and three TDs. After rushing for 140 yards or more in each of its previous three games, New Orleans (5-6) managed only 59 yards against San Francisco (8-2-1).
One of Brees’ scoring passes went to Marques Colston, who set a Saints record with his 56th career touchdown with the club.
The Niners gained 144 yards on the ground.
SF—Kaepernick 7 run (Akers kick)
NO—D.Thomas 6 pass from Brees (Hartley kick)
NO—Colston 10 pass from Brees (Hartley kick)
SF—Brooks 50 interception return (Akers kick)
SF—Gore 6 pass from Kaepernick (Akers kick)
SF—Whitner 42 interception return (Akers kick)
NO—Collins 2 pass from Brees (Hartley kick)
SF—FG Akers 27
|Total Net Yards||375||290|
|Time of Poss.||30:06||29:54|
RUSHING—San Francisco, Gore 19-83, Hunter 4-28, Kaepernick 6-27, Dixon 1-5, Jacobs 1-1. New Orleans, Ivory 8-34, Ingram 10-27, P.Thomas 1-0, Brees 2-(minus 2).
PASSING—San Francisco, Kaepernick 16-25-1-231. New Orleans, Brees 26-41-2-267.
RECEIVING—San Francisco, Manningham 5-69, Walker 3-81, Miller 3-37, Crabtree 3-26, Gore 2-18. New Orleans, Sproles 7-65, Colston 4-36, Graham 4-33, D.Thomas 4-24, Moore 3-61, Collins 2-9, Morgan 1-33, Henderson 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—San Francisco, Akers 50 (WL), 33 (BK).