For a second week in a row, the mighty San Francisco 49ers laid an egg, getting out-coached and outplayed at their own house this time.
Uncharacteristically, this team lost the battle in the trenches—on offense and defense—allowing its opponent to essentially move the ball at will, while keeping quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the sideline. The 49ers couldn’t score points, and since they couldn’t stop the run, they were progressively demoralized.
While it didn’t spiral out of control quite as fast as it did against the Seattle Seahawks, it was that same type of showing against the Indianapolis Colts. The penalties were frequent, the play-calling was out of whack, and it was clear that the 49ers were really beginning to feel the effects of all these injuries.
In their second beatdown in as many weeks, here are the full report card grades for the 49ers in Week 3, complete with analysis.
Statistics are courtesy of NFL.com Game Center, unless specified otherwise.
Colin Kaepernick: D
One cannot put all of this on Colin Kaepernick, largely because the offensive play-calling has been utterly abominable.
As a coaching staff, it is on you to put your quarterback in a position to be successful, thereby enabling the rest of the offense to flourish. This fundamental truth has been disregarded by the eyes in the sky—mainly offensive coordinator Greg Roman up in the play booth.
Abandoning the run and favoring a pass-heavy approach with a banged up receiving corps has gotten them nowhere fast.
This has handicapped No. 7's ability to be effective, but he is not exempt from criticism. The reason Kap is going to wind up with a bomb of a grade here is because his decision-making has been questionable at best.
Even though he has been dealt a pretty bad hand, his claim to fame up until now was his ability to improvise and make something out of nothing.
Only, this year, it appears that his ability as a dual-threat QB has actually made it more difficult on him. Kaepernick was indecisive and awfully fidgety in the pocket, at times looking like he could not choose whether to throw or pass. More so, he did not know whom to throw to or which running lane he would take.
This overbearing thought process—which he does not have an allotted time to fully explore given the quickness of an NFL play—has resulted in several busted plays and missed opportunities. He hasn’t brought this receiving corps to life, he’s failed to move the chains, and his ball security isn’t up to par.
Frank Gore: A
Yes, an A. On Sunday, Gore was one of the few players executing and looking sharp for the 49ers. The fact that his touches were limited was not his fault. Gore averaged 7.5 YPC, tallying 100-plus all-purpose yards. The sad truth is that San Francisco probably could’ve ridden his hot hand to a victory.
Kendall Hunter: B-
Hunter had four carries for 14 yards and the 49ers’ only touchdown of the game on Sunday (or only points for that matter). He also looked good in limited action, but again, his touches were limited by the play-calling. San Francisco’s primary relief back earns a solid grade here.
Anthony Dixon: N/A
Anthony Dixon finished with one carry for minus-one yard. It was a little peculiar to see him involved before Hunter and while Gore still had fresh legs, but it is what it is. Dixon’s single carry got stuffed, as it usually does, costing the 49ers a down and ultimately a series.
Anquan Boldin: C-
Boldin has not been a factor for two weeks now—not since his 200-plus yard game against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1. Why he wasn’t able to get going versus this questionable Indianapolis secondary is a big mystery. Kap only connected with Boldin five times for 67 yards, and a lot of that was garbage-time yardage.
Kyle Williams: F
Once again, Kyle Williams was the only other wide receiver to finish with a catch on Sunday, but it just wasn’t enough. One of the 49ers’ biggest problems is the lack of a threatening No. 2 WR. K-Dub was supposed to be that guy but hasn’t asserted himself in the manner the coaching staff was hoping.
Quinton Patton: F
It seems like forever ago since Quinton Patton caught those two touchdown passes in preseason. The chemistry between him and Kap appeared to be very real, but it has yet to materialize in the regular season. Another week, another no-catch game for Patton, even though S.F. is getting him on the field more.
Vance McDonald: D-
With Vernon Davis (hamstring) out for the game, this was a big opportunity for the rookie tight end to get involved. He got his first start in Week 3, against a defense that appeared to be weak in the middle, but McDonald only managed to finish with one catch for six yards.
Garrett Celek: C+
Celek had the longest play of the game for the San Francisco 49ers, securing his one grab for a 30-yard gainer. It is hard to give him a poor grade for that reason, but he did not exactly blow up in this one, either. Celek had an average-to-below-average performance, but still not the worst of his teammates.
Joe Staley: C
If this were a failing grade, Kaepernick would’ve been on his back a lot more.
The 49ers managed to make sure his No. 7 jersey stayed clean, but Staley and Co. did fail to provide Kap with as much time as he needed on Sunday, causing the quarterback to leave the pocket. Staley—S.F.’s most athletic tackle—also wasn’t in sync with Kap’s scrambling on the left side.
Mike Iupati: C+
It is hard to fault this entire crew too much, because again, the play-calling did not help it out very much either. This unit, especially Iupati, thrives in run-blocking assignments, of which there weren’t many. He created lanes for Gore when he could, but in pass protection, he broke down like the rest.
Jonathan Goodwin: C-
Not the best run-blocker in the world, and on a day where the pass protection has looked better, it is hard to give Goodwin a better grade than this. The lost battle in the trenches and pressure in the middle falls on the center, seeing how he quarterbacks the line. He is another player that could’ve had a better performance.
Alex Boone: C
Gaining 15 pounds, Boone was in monster mode leading up to the season, looking to follow up a strong debut in 2012. And in a marvelous assembly of O-linemen, he even looked like one of the stronger links. Unfortunately, his sluggish performance against lesser competition, and inability to help Davis and Goodwin made him one of five guilty parties on the day.
Anthony Davis: C+
The 49ers had a few big runs to that right side on Sunday, which Davis helped power. But when it came time to pass-block, it was hard for the fourth-year tackle to consistently hold that edge. Pressure seeped through, which resulted in Kap dancing quite a bit behind the line of scrimmage.
Justin Smith: C+
The 49ers were in the game for a while, largely because of Justin Smith’s ability to generate pressure on Andrew Luck. He was running like a man possessed, forcing Luck out of the pocket and even sacking him on one occasion. However, the grade drops with the Niners getting pummeled on the ground again.
Glenn Dorsey: C
Dorsey had a few eye-catching plays, but it wasn’t enough for the 49ers to control this game in the trenches. He was solid as a run-stuffer, standing up Trent Richardson in one instance, but the 49ers lost this game up front. Since he will be the starting nose tackle for the remainder of the season, Dorsey has to play better.
Ray McDonald: C-
Ray McDonald was a little dinged up heading into this game, and it may have contributed to his vanilla performance on Sunday. The Colts ran right at him, and he failed to respond with any sort of big play, whether it was a tackle for a loss or tone-setting hit. McDonald simply went through the motions in Week 3.
Aldon Smith: C+
The 49ers were expecting a lot more out of Aldon Smith today, seeing as how the Colts offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. No. 99 did not make his presence felt on the field, as Justin Smith generated most of the pressures. If he had a strong performance, the Niners might’ve been able to win this one.
NaVorro Bowman: C+
Once again, big bad Bowman closed out the day with a team-high nine tackles. But for one reason or another, these takedowns have not had the impact they once did. They aren’t behind the line of scrimmage, on the quarterback or on a critical third down.
As shocking as it may seem, Willis is another player that isn’t exactly passing with flying colors. He finished with five tackles and one assist, but it’s the same story as Bowman. These two are not hitting the holes and jamming the run like they typically do, allowing another finesse team to pound the rock on them.
Ahmad Brooks: C-
Brooks was also on the side with Ray McDonald that seemed to get victimized by the Colts' new-look run game. And not only did Brooks fail to set the edge, allowing Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw to run rampant, but the pressure from that side of the field certainly lacked.
Tarell Brown: D+
Even though Andrew Luck only threw for 164 yards, it does not tell the whole story. The 49ers secondary played terribly, failing to come through on third downs and committing several penalties. Brown, who is the 49ers' best cornerback, was called for multiple defensive fouls and could not make stops on Reggie Wayne when it counted.
Carlos Rogers: D
Rogers was also an offender this past week, getting called for holding in Sunday’s matchup. T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey were also able to take advantage of his diminishing skill set at times, which made the entire secondary look bad. His coverage ability, or lack thereof, has continued to hurt this defense in 2013.
Nnamdi Asomugha: F
Three weeks into 2013 and the 49ers can pretty much chalk the Nnamdi Asomugha signing up as a bust. He has not excelled in coverage, looking like the weakest link from Day 1—and he doesn't tackle. From what we've seen so far, Asomugha either whiffs or withers when it comes to contact, which is not the 49er way.
Perrish Cox: N/A
Indianapolis used more three-wide than four-wide receiver sets, which is why we saw more of Cox versus the Packers than we did the Colts. Cox did not affect the outcome of this game in one way or another, so he cannot earn a grade. However, he is a player to watch rise on the depth chart with the performances of the aforementioned cornerbacks.
Eric Reid: B+
Free safety Eric Reid continues to be a shining star in this unit, already looking like one of its best players week in and week out. This is a surprise considering he is a rookie in a defense laced with All-Pros, but as we can see, it has been an out-of-character year for the 49ers so far.
He laid the wood again, and as far as liabilities in the secondary go, he was not one of them.
Donte Whitner: C
Whitner had a solid Week 1 but ever since, it has been pretty ugly. After getting exposed against Seattle seven days ago, this game was no better. He has not been a positive presence and even hurt San Francisco with a helmet-to-helmet call (which was really more shoulder to collarbone).
Andy Lee: A
Andy Lee was called on perhaps a little too much on Sunday, punting seven times for a 38.4-yard net average. Of course, the average is largely based on field position, but he did have a long of 62 yards. Lee always does his job, even if the team around him collapses.
Phil Dawson: N/A
Can’t really given Dawson a failing grade and can’t really rave about him, either. The 49ers All-Pro place kicker was strapped to the bench for most of the game, not registering a single field-goal attempt. He went 1-for-1 with the point after, following Kendall Hunter’s 13-yard touchdown scamper.
Coverage/Return Unit: B
This unit did not kill the 49ers on Sunday. What hurt them was an inability to run the ball or stop the run. The field-position battle was hardly an issue, as San Francisco was in this game for at least three quarters of play. The special teams unit did enough for the Niners to pull off a win.