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Originally published Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 9:10 PM

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Colin Kaepernick gets plenty of help from Niners' defense in victory over Saints

Even if Colin Kaepernick's second start was hardly as spectacular as his first, he played well enough to extend coach Jim Harbaugh's quarterback...

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NEW ORLEANS — Even if Colin Kaepernick's second start was hardly as spectacular as his first, he played well enough to extend coach Jim Harbaugh's quarterback quandary for at least another week.

With the 49ers' defense making big plays of its own, it might not have mattered who was under center.

Ahmad Brooks and Donte Whitner each returned interceptions for touchdowns, a pass rush led by Aldon Smith sacked Drew Brees five times, and San Francisco ended New Orleans' three-game winning streak, 31-21 on Sunday.

"We always want to be the best defense on the field, especially on the road," Whitner said. "When you play us, you are going to get hit. That's our identity: smart, hard-nose, physical football."

Kaepernick passed for 231 yards, including a short touchdown to Frank Gore. He also ran for a 7-yard score.

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh implied the decision to start Kaepernick had more to do with preserving Smith's long-term health than on performance, but he was noncommittal about who might start next week at St. Louis.

"The fact he had symptoms seven to eight days later, I'm not going to put a guy back out there," Harbaugh said of Smith. "He eventually got cleared. The plan was to rotate him back into the action (in practice), but not all the way to the front line. ... That would give him a chance to get cleared up completely."

Ravens stun Chargers

thanks to Rice's play

SAN DIEGO — This one was all but over, with the Baltimore Ravens trailing by three points and facing a fourth-and-29 from their 37.

All the San Diego Chargers had to do was get the stop and run out the clock for their first win against a team with a winning record this season. Amazingly, the Chargers found yet another way to lose.

"Check down, Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle," the Ravens running back said in describing the unbelievable play that helped the Ravens to a 16-13 overtime win against the staggering Chargers.

The ball originally was spotted at the 33. After a lengthy review, the ball was moved back to the 34 and the refs measured. The new spot still gave the Ravens a first down by the length of the ball.

Baltimore (9-2) increased its lead to three games over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. San Diego (4-7) was pushed closer to playoff elimination for the third straight season, and with it, mostly likely the end of the Norv Turner era.

Six plays later, Justin Tucker kicked a 38-yard field goal to tie the score at 13 as regulation expired. Tucker made another 38-yarder with 1:07 left in overtime to win it.

Note

• Fireman Ed is hanging up his helmet. New York Jets fan Ed Anzalone wrote in a guest column for Metro New York newspaper that he will no longer lead the "J-E-T-S!" chants at home games or wear his firefighter's hat because "confrontations" between him and other fans "have become more common."

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