Ken Stabler passed for one touchdown and set up two other scores in a driving rain as the surprising New Orleans Saints defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 23-20, today.

New Orleans, 4-12 last year, won its third straight and is 3-1. The 49ers are 1-3.

On the Saints' second possession, Stabler completed all five passes on a 99-yard drive, including a 10-yarder to Wayne Wilson for a 7-0 lead. He also set up a two-yard scoring run by Jimmy Rogers and a one-yarder by George Rogers. Toni Fritsch also kicked a 27-yard field goal.

"A lot of people had written me off. But I don't ever remember leaving," said Stabler, 36, who was released by the Houston Oilers last summer and picked up by New Orleans before the season began.

The 49ers scored on field goals of 40 and 45 yards by Ray Wersching and on passes of 12 yards to Jeff Moore and 16 to Russ Francis in the closing minutes to pull within three. San Francisco attempted an onside kick after Francis's touchdown with five seconds left, but Jeff Groth recovered for New Orleans.

The Saints' defense, which had allowed three previous opponents an average of 206 yards and 13 points, limited San Francisco to 209 yards until the final five minutes.

New Orleans also had two fumble recoveries, an intercepted pass and two sacks.