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49ers vs. Jets: Final Game Grades, Analysis for San Francisco

Michael ErlerCorrespondent IDecember 12, 2016

49ers vs. Jets: Final Game Grades, Analysis for San Francisco

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    The 49ers are 3-1, having beaten the Jets 34-0, dominating in every facet of the game except the "forward pass" and completing their first road shutout since Jan. 6, 1991 at New Orleans, when they won 38-0. 

    The game was only 10-0 at half and 17-0 through three quarters, but got ugly in the fourth, when a freak injury to Jets receiver Santonio Holmes caused a fumble return touchdown by CB Carlos Rogers. 

    A blocked punt led to another score.

    For the game the 49ers ran for 245 yards and dominated a Jets team that takes pride in its physicality, and truly in the later stages it appeared that New York just quit competing. 

    The papers will have a field day with the Jets after this one, while all the Bay Area media will have to chew on is whether the Niners can get anything out of Randy Moss


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    Alex Smith: C-

    Smith finished a quiet 12-of-21 for 143 yards, failing to connect with Michael Crabtree on consecutive plays on 2nd-and-1 and 3rd-and-1 midway through the fourth quarter, which stalled a drive in which the Niners had bulldozed their way down the field by running the ball.

    Smith had a couple of nice stretches late in the second and third quarters, but overall it was a game to forget for him and converting third downs and connecting with guys for big plays outside of the hashes continue to be issues for him. 

    At least Smith didn't turn it over, and against teams like the Jets, just doing that much will work out more often than not. 

    Colin Kaepernick: B+

    Kaepernick was a surprise star in the game, checking in for a few plays and he out-Tebowed, Tim Tebow in beating the Jets, with a 17-yard run on an option in the first quarter and his first career touchdown, from seven yards, on 3rd-and-6 in the second quarter.

    Kaepernick also had a 30-yard bootleg late in the fourth quarter and could've scored on the play, but he showed class by sliding down at the 1-yard-line so the 49ers could kneel down and run out the clock, not running up the score any further. 

    The one negative for the second-year QB came on his only pass attempt, as he unleashed a bomb into triple coverage for Randy Moss that Moss did well just to bat away from a defensive back's clutches.  

Running Backs

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    Frank Gore: B

    Gore had a rough game on paper, with just 62 rushing yards and a 1-yard touchdown to show for his 21 carries, but his bruising carries inside kept the clocking moving and softened the Jets' interior defense, enabling his faster teammates to exploit them around the edges. 

    Gore was outstanding in blitz pickup and had a couple of short receptions on the team's two-minute drill late in the second quarter, which set up a field goal. 

    Kendall Hunter: A-

    After a rough game at Minnesota, Hunter was brilliant against the Jets, making the most of his eight carries and totaling 56 yards and the first touchdown of his season. Almost all of his carries came on toss plays to the outside, and while they were effective, you have to wonder if that predictability —Gore inside, Hunter outside— will come back to haunt the Niners against better-coached defenses. 

    Bruce Miller: B+

    Had one reception in the game and blocked well for Gore inside and Hunter outside, showing impressive agility for a fullback in getting out on the edges on toss plays. 

    Anthony Dixon: B

    Got his first action from scrimmage on the season, churning out 16 yards on four carries. With Brandon Jacobs nearing full health, Dixon won't get many more chances to contribute. 

    Will Tukuafu: B

    Saw some action in the jumbo package as a fullback and came close to scoring the first touchdown of his career in the fourth quarter, almost making an outstanding catch on a play-action pass from Alex Smith even though he was held on the play. 

    The penalty was called and Hunter scored on the next snap. 

Wide Receivers

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    Michael Crabtree: D

    Was targeted seven times by Alex Smith and came up with just two completions for 15 yards, with one clear third down drop.

    Couldn't ever really shake marginal Jets corner Kyle Wilson, while Antonio Cromartie had Crabtree in his hip pocket all game. 

    Crabtree did get a step on his man on one third down play down the sidelines, but Smith missed the pass. 

    Mario Manningham: B

    Manningham was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 47 yards, including a 26-yarder, but he failed to haul in what could've been a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and was lazy in the route, perhaps not expecting the pass to come his way. 

    Manningham did have a 28-yard run on a reverse which led to the team's first touchdown of the day and he continues to be more of a factor in game plans than fellow offseason signee Randy Moss. 

    Randy Moss: C-

    Here's a sentence that's never been written before: The best part of Randy Moss' day was his blocking.

    Indeed, Moss did have a couple of impressive blocks downfield on toss plays to Kendall Hunter. As a receiver though, he had just one ball come his way all game, and it was a bomb from Colin Kaepernick where Moss was triple-covered. 

    Moss turned defensive back on the play and batted the ball away to prevent an interception, but it's fair to say he and Alex Smith still aren't on the same page. 

    Kyle Williams: Inc.

    Had a 9-yard run on an end around but wasn't targeted in the pass game. 

    Ted Ginn: Inc.

    Ditto for Ginn, except his end around went for seven yards. 

Tight Ends

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    Vernon Davis: C-

    Great game as a blocker, as usual, but only caught two passes all game, both coming during a two-minute drill in the second quarter that led to a field goal. Some credit has to go to the Jets defense, which clearly focused on containing Davis, particularly in the red zone, opening up plays on the perimeter for other guys. 

    Delanie Walker: C+

    Walker had another drop, as well as a catch out-of-bounds when he took his route too far along the sidelines, but he caught a pair of passes in the third quarter including a 25-yarder on a crossing route and it led to the team's second touchdown and effectively ended the game. 

    Garrett Celek: Inc.

    The only rookie to suit up for the 49ers today, the undrafted free agent from Michigan State saw some action in jumbo packages but didn't have any passes come his way. He was definitely open on one third down play where Smith looked elsewhere. 

Offensive Line

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    Joe Staley: B+

    The Niners ran toss plays to Hunter to Staley's side and they were effective as usual. Did really well in pass protection most of the game, but was sucked inside on a third down play in the second quarter in which Jets' LB Calvin Pace chased down Alex Smith for a sack. 

    Mike Iupati: A-

    Shoved his man several yards down the field on a few running plays but wasn't consistently getting push. Didn't allow any pressure on passes though.

    Jonathan Goodwin: B+

    Pretty good game overall, though he had one holding penalty and didn't generate as much push inside as he usually does. No bad snaps in the game, but the Niners didn't use the shotgun much. 

    Alex Boone: B+

    Ironically, the Niners seemed to run more trap plays with Boone on the move than with Iupati, who specializes in that. Boone held up well in pass protection, which you would expect from a former tackle. 

    Anthony Davis: B+

    Was called for his first penalty of the season, a personal foul, but otherwise played a clean game, not allowing any sacks and eliminating his guy as a run blocker. He's had more dominating efforts, but it says something about his development when a game like this is considered a downturn for Davis. 

Defensive Line

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    Justin Smith: B

    Was in on four tackles, had a pass batted down and a fumble recovery. Still no sacks on the season for Smith, but he got close a couple of times and played the run well, even without his usual partner, Isaac Sopoaga, beside him. 

    Ricky Jean Francois: B+

    Making his third career start and the first of 2012, Jean Francois did very well in place of the injured Sopoaga and the 49ers' run defense didn't seem to suffer at all. Jean Francois wasn't credited for any tackles, but he held the line plenty, allowing the linebackers behind him to stuff the run, as the Jets averaged less than three yards per carry. 

    Notably, Jean Francois also got considerably more push as a pass-rusher than Sopoaga typically does and he created some problems for Mark Sanchez in that regard. He didn't play as much in the second half, as the Jets had to resort to passing on nearly every down. 

    Ray McDonald: A

    Forced a holding penalty on an early pass-rush, set up Ahmad Brooks' sack with another pocket-collapsing pressure, deflected a Sanchez screen pass for Patrick Willis to intercept and would've had a sack in the game if not for a holding penalty in the secondary. McDonald shoved Jets' G Brandon Moore into Sanchez' face all game and was credited with a pair of stops. 

    Will Tukuafu: Inc.

    Played a few snaps late in garbage time, but didn't dent the stat sheet. 

    Demarcus Dobbs: Inc.

    Likewise Dobbs saw some action late, and he had a pressure on Sanchez which led to an incompletion. 


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    Patrick Willis: A-

    The fourth game of the season was right around the time Willis really got going last year, and so far that's holding true in 2012 as well.

    Willis led the team with 10 tackles, had an interception off Ray McDonald's deflection, and got in Mark Sanchez's face with a couple of blitz attempts. 

    Willis did miss a tackle in the second half, but otherwise it was his best game of the season. 

    NaVorro Bowman: B

    The 49ers' best coverage 'backer had what should've been an easy interception of Mark Sanchez bounce off his mitts, but was otherwise solid with eight tackles. The Jets don't throw to their backs very much, so Bowman didn't have a chance to show his sideline-to-sideline range. 

    Aldon Smith: A

    Had two sacks (giving him a team-leading 4.5 on the season) and nearly a third, which was wiped out by penalty. Showed good hustle by not giving up on plays and chasing down Sanchez from behind. Stripped Sanchez on one of his sacks, causing a turnover that led to a field goal. 

    Smith was called for one personal foul, but redeemed himself with a sack a short time later, which took the Jets out of field goal range and they never came close to scoring again.

    Ahmad Brooks: B-

    Had a second quarter sack off a McDonald pressure, but was otherwise quiet in the game. 

    Larry Grant: Inc.

    Played late in the game and had a pressure on Sanchez on a blitz, but his biggest contribution came on special teams. 

Defensive Backs

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    Carlos Rogers: A-

    Ironically, Rogers' biggest play of the game came on a sequence in which he was beat for a reception. New York's Santonio Holmes got open on a short pass along the sideline, but as he cut to make a move, he crumpled to the turf in pain and simply let go of the ball, giving Rogers a chance to scoop it up and take it 51 yards for a touchdown to make it 24-0.

    It was Rogers' second fumble recovery of the game, as he also dove in to gather Jets' TE Dedrick Epps' miscue after he was walloped by S Dashon Goldson. 

    Rogers did get called for one holding penalty, but otherwise had a fine day in coverage against an undermanned Jets' offense.

    Tarell Brown: B-

    Gave up a couple of receptions to Chaz Schilens, though the first one looked fishy as Mark Sanchez sure looked like he was past the line of scrimmage when he threw the ball. 

    Brown got called for an illegal contact penalty, which wiped out Aldon Smith's third sack of the game. 

    Chris Culliver: B+

    The Jets hardly looked his way all game, continuing a theme that's been apparent all season. Is Culliver quietly the 49ers' best corner? 

    Dashon Goldson: A-

    A tremendous bounce-back performance from Goldson after a real poor game at Minnesota.

    First, he forced a fumble by Epps with a big-time hit after what would've been a first down reception for the backup tight end. 

    Then, in the third quarter, he dove to bat away what would've been a touchdown bomb to Holmes who looked to be open. 

    Donte Whitner: B

    Was in on six tackles, but missed a couple too. Wasn't burned by any passes that I could see, however. 

    C.J. Spillman: Inc.

    Saw action late in the blowout.

    Darrel McBath: Inc.

    Also played late, and interestingly he seems to have moved ahead of rookie Trenton Robinson, who was inactive, on the depth chart.

Special Teams

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    David Akers: C-

    Was only 2-of-4 on the afternoon in field goals. A miss from 55 yards out is understandable, but going wide-right from 40 is not. He also had a poor kickoff late in the third quarter, which led to a nice return for Jets' RB Joe McKnight. 

    Andy Lee: B+

    Had one 61-yard punt and a pair downed inside the 5-yard-line, but one miscue as well, shanking one out-of-bounds only 34 yards deep to set up the Jets' offense at midfield (not much good it did them, but still). 

    Kyle Williams: C+

    Returned the opening kickoff 25 yards and never got another opportunity because of the shutout. Interestingly, he was the coaching staff's choice to return kicks but not punts, when most would've figured it would've been the other way around with Ted Ginn back. 

    Ted Ginn: B-

    Returned from injury and averaged ten yards on four punt returns, with the last one being his best and going for 20 yards (and being nearly fumbled away). Ginn also had a couple of fair catches handled without incident. 

    Brian Jennings: A

    The team's longtime long snapper was perfect as always.

    Larry Grant: A

    Got a blocked punt in the fourth quarter when he caught Jets' TE Jeff Cumberland napping, expecting Grant to simply release downfield to block for the return. Which, to be fair, most special teams units would do up 27-0 late in the fourth quarter. 

    Maybe the 49ers' coaching staff got jealous of all the other NFC West teams blocking punts in recent games. 


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    Grade: A-

    34-0 says it all. 

    Jim Harbaugh and his staff surprised the Jets early by using backup QB Colin Kaepernick on a couple of option plays, and Kaepernick had 24 yards and a score on his two efforts. 

    The Niners also had a trio of end arounds/options by their receivers, and all those plays were effective as well.

    The coaching staff got both TE Delanie Walker and RB Kendall Hunter going after they had quiet games at Minnesota and generally kept the Jets defense off balance even though the game plan looked very conservative on the stat sheet.

    In all, nine different 49ers had rushing attempts in the game, they dominated the time-of-possession, and aside from not getting Randy Moss involved at all, it's hard to blame them for much.

    There was a questionable decision to go for a 55-yard field goal rather in the second quarter than punt it and pin the Jets deep, and Harbaugh played it too safe not giving his offense take a shot or two into the end zone right before half, but otherwise the coaching was exemplary. 

    Harbaugh also earns plaudits for letting his backups get some time late in the game and for instructing his offense to not rub it in late, as Kaepernick slid on the 1-yard line rather than score to make it 41-0 on a fourth quarter bootleg.

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