A strong defensive effort wasn't enough as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the New Orleans Saints 13-0 on Sunday at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
The loss dropped the Saints to 4-8. The victory was the fourth straight for San Francisco, which improved to 7-4.
It was the first time the Saints have been shut out since Jan. 6, 2002, a streak of 332 games. It was the longest active streak in the NFL.
"I thought we competed against a good team, but at the end of the day we didn't make enough plays," Coach Dennis Allen said. "There were some opportunities out there for us and we didn't take advantage of them."
Turnovers and mistakes in execution hurt the Saints early and late as running back Alvin Kamara lost a fumble on the team's first possession and lost a second on the goal line in the fourth quarter as he looked like he was going to score on a reception. Tight end Juwan Johnson had a chance to recover the second fumble but the 49ers came up with it at the 1-yard line.
"If you turn the football over you're not going to beat a good team," Allen said.
Kicker Wil Lutz missed a 48-yard field goal at the end of a strong drive; the kick was only attempted after right tackle Ryan Ramczyk was penalized for a false start when the Saints were going for it on fourth down.
The Saints had it first-and-goal from the 4-yard line and threw three incomplete passes before quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked later in the fourth quarter.
The Saints were penalized six times for 46 yards, none bigger than when defensive back Chris Harris Jr. was called for illegal contact on a play in which Alontae Taylor intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo and returned it inside the 10-yard line.
Dalton was 18 of 29 for 204 yards. Kamara carried seven times for 13 yards and had six receptions for 37 yards. Rookie receiver Chris Olave had five receptions for 62 yards and easily could have had a sixth except for a strange overturn of what looked like a catch in the first half.
"I don't know what a catch is," Allen said.
The game marked the debut of rookie tackle Trevor Penning, one of the team's two first-round draft picks in 2022, and the return to the lineup of defensive ends Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, cornerback Bradley Roby, running back Mark Ingram and left tackle James Hurst. Penning didn't start but saw action in jumbo packages. Roby left the game with a concussion. The Saints also lost defensive back P.J. Williams to a knee injury in the first half.
The loss was a missed opportunity for the Saints as division-leading Tampa (5-6) and second-place Atlanta (5-7) both lost Sunday. The Saints will play at Tampa on Monday, Dec. 5.