SAN FRANCISCO - Sure, Reggie Bush felt a bit of sympathy for his former high school quarterback after Alex Smith's pitiful performance for the 49ers.
Bush felt a whole lot more pride in his New Orleans Saints, who are right back on track after their awful start.
Drew Brees passed for 336 yards and hit Marques Colston with three of his four touchdown throws in the Saints' 31-10 win over the 49ers on Sunday. New Orleans won its third straight, and San Francisco (2-5) lost its fifth in a row.
While Smith's struggles with a still-hurting right shoulder were the most obvious flaws in the 49ers' effort, few teams could have stayed with the Saints (3-4). The 2006 NFC finalists have rebounded from their 0-4 start to move within one game of the NFC South lead.
Brees was on target, going 31 of 39 and avoiding any sacks for the fourth consecutive game, and Bush added 113 total yards in three quarters.
'We grew up together, and it's tough to see him struggle like that,' said Bush, who took handoffs from Smith at San Diego's Helix High School. 'But when we're playing, all bets are off. He's been a good friend of mine for a long time, and I hope he gets his shoulder back healthy again, but today was all about the Saints.'
New Orleans jumped to a 24-point halftime lead with a steady offensive effort including catches by nine receivers and four scoring drives longer than 72 yards.
With the highest-scoring performance of Colston's career and Bush's latest multifaceted game, the Saints were marching again.
'It was fast-paced, and we were very efficient,' Brees said. 'I guess we could have been a little better on third down, but it felt like we didn't have many third downs. Mostly it felt like a lot of first downs. Our defense did a good job, and you just feed off each other.'
Bush, who had his NFL breakout game with four TDs against the 49ers last year, had 64 yards on 10 carries and added seven catches for 49 yards. Terrance Copper also caught a TD pass, and David Patten had five catches for 109 yards.
After stopping their winless skid with a gritty victory at Seattle, the Saints have fattened up with wins over lowly Atlanta and San Francisco.
New Orleans will get a stiffer test next week from a tough Jacksonville squad, but everything seems better for Bush and Brees.
New Orleans101407-31San Francisco0037-10 First Quarter
NO-Colston 17 pass from Brees (Mare kick), 11:23.
NO-FG Mare 26, 3:25.
NO-Copper 2 pass from Brees (Mare kick), 6:45.
NO-Colston 3 pass from Brees (Mare kick), :50.
SF-Nedney 29, 6:05.
NO-Colston 15 pass from Brees (Mare kick), 8:47.
SF-Davis 7 pass from A.Smith (Nedney kick), 4:16.
NOSFFirst downs2615Total Net Yards438260Rushes-yards27-10221-83Passing336177Punt Returns4-251-23Kickoff Returns1-195-115Interceptions Ret.0-00-0Comp-Att-Int31-39-022-43-0Sacked-Yards Lost0-02-13Punts4-39.87-46.9Fumbles-Lost1-12-1Penalties-Yards4-257-66Time of Possession32:3527:25 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING-New Orleans, Bush 10-64, Stecker 12-35, P.Thomas 3-9, Karney 1-0, Patten 1-(minus 6). San Francisco, Gore 12-41, Hicks 2-19, A.Smith 4-16, Robinson 2-6, Norris 1-1.
PASSING-New Orleans, Brees 31-39-0-336. San Francisco, A.Smith 22-43-0-190.
RECEIVING-New Orleans, Colston 8-85, Bush 7-49, Patten 5-109, Johnson 2-29, Henderson 2-23, Miller 2-17, Copper 2-10, Stecker 2-4, Moore 1-10. San Francisco, Davis 6-71, Robinson 3-43, Gilmore 3-23, Battle 3-22, Lelie 3-20, J.Hill 1-6, Hicks 1-5, Gore 1-0, Walker 1-0.