SANTA CLARA – The 49ers’ offense snapped out of its season-long snooze on Sunday.
The 49ers’ defense, however, continues its deep hibernation into ignominy.
The 49ers gained a season-high 486 of total offense, but nothing could prevent the team from losing for the seventh consecutive time after an opening-week victory.
The offense committed costly turnovers and the defense did not provide any resistance in the New Orleans Saints’ 41-23 victory over the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium.
The 49ers’ seven-game losing streak is the franchise’s longest skid since an eight-game losing streak in 2007. The club record is nine straight losses in 1978. The 49ers’ next two games are at Arizona and back home against New England.
Another streak that continued was the 49ers’ ineptitude in run defense.
New Orleans running back Mark Ingram became the seventh consecutive opponent to eclipse 100 yards rushing against the 49ers. Ingram did not start, but he gained 158 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Tim Hightower added 87 yards on 23 carries.
Fozzy Whitaker (Carolina), Christine Michael (Seattle), Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas), David Johnson (Arizona), LeSean McCoy (Buffalo) and Jacquizz Rodgers (Tampa Bay) previously ran for more than 100 yards against the 49ers in successive games, beginning in Week 2.
The Saints could have done just about anything they wanted against the 49ers’ defense. Quarterback Drew Brees completed 28 of 39 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
The 49ers’ passing game, which entered the game ranked last in the NFL, had its best showing of the season in Colin Kaepernick’s third start.
Kaepernick completed 24 of 39 passes for 398 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Running back DuJuan Harris had a strong showing, as he got the start in place of injured Carlos Hyde.
Harris rushed for 59 yards on 10 rushing attempts. He also caught five passes for 83 yards. But Harris also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.
Harris took a short toss on the right side from Kaepernick, then sprinted to the goal line, stepping through an attempted tackle by Saints safety Jairus Byrd to score on a 47-yard pass play to cut the Saints lead to 21-10 in the second quarter.
It took the Saints all of nine seconds to respond.
Running back Mark Ingram broke through an enormous hole and ran past flat-footed safety Antoine Bethea en route to a 75-yard touchdown.
Kaepernick’s short pass to tight end Vance McDonald resulted in a 65-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Harris made a block along the sideline to spring McDonald.
Kaepernick’s interception in the first quarter proved costly. He stared down intended receiver Jeremy Kerley, allowing Saints linebacker Craig Robinson ample time to break on the ball. Robinson made the interception and returned it 29 yards. Quinton Patton’s horse-collar tackle advanced the ball to the 49ers’ 12-yard line.
Four plays later, Brees found Michael Thomas for a 1-yard touchdown pass on a simple back-shoulder throw at the left front corner of the end zone against Jimmie Ward for a 14-3 lead.