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               === Kaepernick, 49ers defense cool off Saints ===
 
 New  Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Colin Kaepernick threw for a touchdown and
 ran  for another,  while  Ahmad  Brooks and  Donte  Whitner  each returned  an
 interception  for  a score as  the San Francisco  49ers downed the New Orleans
 Saints, 31-21.
 
 Kaepernick  completed 16-of-25  passes for 231 yards with the touchdown and an
 interception in his second career start in place of Alex Smith.
 
 Smith  suffered a concussion during the 49ers' 24-24 tie against the St. Louis
 Rams  two  weeks ago, and although  Smith was cleared for contact earlier this
 week, Kaepernick remained the starter for San Francisco (8-2-1).
 
 "Coach  said  he's going to go  with who has the  hot hand, so now we have two
 starting  quarterbacks," Brooks said. "We have a guy that's 2-0, that's young,
 can move the pocket, move around, make plays with his feet and make plays with
 his arm. And Alex, who's a vet, is very savvy back there and doesn't make many
 mistakes. That call is going to be coach's."
 
 Kaepernick  finished  with 27 yards  and a touchdown  on six carries and Frank
 Gore added 83 yards on 19 totes in the 49ers' second straight win.
 
 Drew  Brees threw for 267 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions on 26-
 for-41  efficiency  for the  Saints (5-6), but  was mainly kept  in check by a
 49ers defense that racked up five sacks.
 
 "I  felt  like we played  well enough to  win in a  lot of areas today," Brees
 said.  "What's  glaring is the  two turnovers  that resulted in touchdowns for
 them. That can't happen."
 
 Marques  Colston became the Saints' all-time leader in touchdowns and finished
 with 36 yards and a score on four receptions as New Orleans had its three-game
 win streak snapped.
 
 The  49ers  received the ball to  start the second  half with the game tied at
 14-14,  and Kaepernick  converted a 3rd-and-2 with a 45-yard strike to Delanie
 Walker  near the left sideline before Kendall Hunter's 21-yard run set up a 6-
 yard touchdown grab by Gore.
 
 Then  two  plays into New  Orleans' ensuing  drive, Whitner intercepted a high
 pass  from Brees that tipped off the hands of a leaping Colston and took it 42
 yards  down the left sideline for a touchdown and a 28-14 lead with 11:30 left
 in the third quarter.
 
 The  Saints responded with an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive to get back within
 a  touchdown  as Lance  Moore fought  off a  defender and  hauled in a 43-yard
 reception to move the ball to the San Francisco 10, setting up Jed Collins' 2-
 yard touchdown grab.
 
 San  Francisco  regained its two-possession  advantage with a 16-play, 85-yard
 drive  that stretched into  the fourth quarter and ate up nearly 9 1/2 minutes
 of clock.
 
 Kaepernick converted three third downs through the air in the march, including
 a  3rd-and-11 at  the 49ers  35-yard line,  but the  drive stalled  inside the
 Saints  10  and San  Francisco was  forced to settle  for David Akers' 27-yard
 field goal for a 31-21 lead with 7:50 left in the game.
 
 The  Saints would  not threaten  for the  remainder of  the contest  and after
 failing  to convert a 4th-and-4 at their own 46, San Francisco was able to run
 off  all but  1:05 of  game  clock as  Akers' 33-yard  field-goal attempt  was
 blocked.
 
 New  Orleans then advanced  as far as the San Francisco 37 before Brees took a
 knee to run off the final second of play.
 
 San  Francisco  took over on  offense at its own  38-yard line after the teams
 traded  punts  over  the  first  three possessions  of  the  game,  and  Mario
 Manningham's  40-yard catch-and-run  on the second play of the drive moved the
 ball  deep inside  Saints territory before Kaepernick capped the quick, 4-play
 march with a 7-yard rush off left end for a touchdown.
 
 The Saints answered with a 10-play, 79-yard trek Joe Morgan highlighted with a
 diving, 33-yard reception before David Thomas finished off the drive with a 6-
 yard  touchdown grab,  tying the  game  at 7-7  with  1:45 left  in the  first
 quarter.
 
 New  Orleans moved the  ball as far as the San Francisco 39 on its next touch,
 but Brees was called for intentional grounding on a 3rd-and-10 to force a 4th-
 and-30.
 
 Ted Ginn Jr. then muffed the ensuing punt and the Saints recovered the ball at
 the 49ers 11. Two plays later, Brees found Colston in the back of the end zone
 for a 10-yard score and a 14-7 advantage.
 
 Colston's   TD  reception  was  the  56th  of  his  career,  surpassing  Deuce
 McAllister's franchise record.
 
 Kaepernick  was later  intercepted by Patrick Robinson within the final minute
 of  the second  quarter to set the Saints  up at their own 44 with a chance to
 add to their lead before the half, but Brooks stepped in front of a Brees pass
 over  the middle  two plays later and  returned it 50 yards for a touchdown to
 make it a 14-14 game at the break.
 
                                   Game Notes
 
 Brees  has now thrown a touchdown pass in 54 straight games, extending his own
 record.  He fell  to 5-1 against the  49ers in the regular season ... The game
 was  a  rematch of last season's  NFC divisional playoff game, which the 49ers
 also won, 36-32 ... San Francisco leads the all-time series between the teams,
 46-24-2  ... Walker  ended with a game-high  81 yards on three catches ... The
 Saints  went  3-for-11 on  third downs, while  San Francisco converted 6-of-13
 third-down opportunities.
 
 
 
 11/25 22:59:43 ET