That victory combined with the New York Giants upset over the Green Bay Packers means the Niners will be hosting the NFC Championship Game on Sunday at Candlestick Park (3:30 PM).
San Francisco relied on the same things as they have all season long for most of the game; a terrific, swarming defense and the ability to create turnovers to jump out to an early lead. But New Orleans offense never backed down and quarterback Drew Brees led the team back with pinpoint passes in the fourth quarter. The last five minutes was an amazing emotional swing for San Francisco fans. The Saints took a 24-23 lead. Then Alex Smith drove the team down, capping the touchdown drive off with a scramble to his left, running in for the score and a 29-24 lead. But Brees came back, completing a beautiful pass to tight end Jimmy Graham over the outstretched arms of All Pro Patrick Willis, as he rumbled in for what looked like the game-winning score with a little over 1:30 left on the clock. But Smith, who has been maligned all year as just “a game manager,” led the team on a drive reminiscent of Joe Montana and Steve Young, completing a beautiful pass down the sideline to Vernon Davis before ending the game with a touchdown strike on a slant to Davis with :09 left. Davis had a career day (180 yards, two touchdowns) and the Saints just couldn’t overcome early mistakes. It was truly one of those games that you’ll always remember where you were when Vernon Davis caught that pass, Niners fan or not.
We’ll have a full preview of the Giants-Niners game later this week (the two teams played earlier this year with the 49ers coming out victorious). If you are looking for tickets to Sunday’s game, the few that are available can be purchased on Wednesday morning (10:oo AM) through Ticketmaster’s website or by phone at 1-800-745-3000.
Photo Credit: www.49ers.com