NEW ORLEANS — For a second straight Sunday, the 49ers lost while failing to tally 200 yards of offense, and this time they set a season-low for rushing yards.

"It was more us than them. We're making a lot of mistakes," running back Frank Gore said after the 23-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Mistakes indeed were plentiful: unsuccessful replay challenges in the first half, play-clock issues, pass-protection breakdowns, an interception that nearly got returned for a touchdown, and so many more.

Gore chastised himself for failing to catch a fourth-quarter, improvised pass from Colin Kaepernick on their penultimate possession. Said Gore: "I should have made that play. I make that play, we win the game."

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) slides as he is stopped by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first half of
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) slides as he is stopped by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) in the first half of an NFL football game in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. ((AP Photo/Dave Martin))

The offense had a chance to win it at the end, but their two-minute drill fizzled out even faster than it did just before halftime.

The final, three-and-out series typified the 49ers' offensive slump. Kaepernick lost nine yards on a first-down sack. Next, he threw the ball away to avoid a second-down sack near the goal line. On third down, he scrambled out of bounds rather than stay in bounds to work the clock against the Saints' ensuing drive.

Kaepernick said he was trying to turn the corner to reach the first-down marker, only to come up three yards short on that 16-yard scramble.

Both Gore and Vernon Davis said they needed to "watch the film" to explain the offense's final miscues.

"As a team, collectively, we need to get it fixed," said Davis, who had a 17-yard touchdown reception that put the 49ers ahead 20-14 in the third quarter.

Coaching gaffes also haunted the 49ers. Jim Harbaugh lost his second of two replay challenges (and the final timeout of the first half) in hopes of producing a Jon Baldwin touchdown catch. Officials stuck with their original call, that Baldwin was bobbling the ball for an incompletion.

"We knew there was a question on whether the ball was bobbled and we decided to challenge it," said Harbaugh, noting he consulted assistant Eric Mangini before the challenges.

A continuing problem has been getting calls into Kaepernick in a timely matter, or at least getting plays off in time. "We have a lot on our plate as far as what we're trying to get done," Kaepernick said.

For a team that prides itself on a run-oriented mentality, the 49ers gained a season-low 81 rushing yards. Gore had 13 carries for 48 yards, including a 24-yard run. Kaepernick had three runs for 25 yards. LaMichael James had two carries for seven yards (he got stopped for no gain on a third-down run). Kendall Hunter totaled just one yard on four carries.

After a career-worst 91 passing yards and six sacks last game, Kaepernick set a season-low Sunday by averaging 4.1 yards per attempt (17-of-31, 127 yards).

Anquan Boldin caught the first of Kaepernick's two touchdown passes, and Boldin totaled a team-high six catches for 56 yards that included three third-down conversions on one drive.

"Colin played very well. He was very accurate," Harbaugh said of the 54.8 completion percentage. "He was fighting just like everybody. He was very aggressive and made some big-time throws."

Harbaugh also praised Kaepernick for chasing down Corey White on an interception return that White eventually fumbled through the 49ers end zone. It was that kind of day, when the best play by an offensive player was actually a defensive one.