These past three weeks have been a real shot in the arm for the San Francisco 49ers, as they've come away with three straight victories, winning in smashmouth fashion.
Outside of the wide receiving corps, these have been complete team wins by the Niners, with the defense making plays, the ground game rolling on command and San Francisco's top receiving threat, Vernon Davis, streaking downfield like a red-hot meteor.
On top of that, the blocking has been great, the tackling has been much-improved and the 49ers are beginning to see significant contributions from a lot of unexpected places.
After digesting the win, it is necessary to take a closer look at the individual performances from the active players this past week. Proceed through the following for full grades and analysis from San Francisco's Week 6 win over the NFC West rival Arizona Cardinals.
The 49ers quarterback had a positive game overall on Sunday versus the Cards, boosting his record as the team’s starter to 11-5, including the playoffs.
Against a revamped defense, he went on to finish 16-of-29 for 252 yards with a pair of touchdowns that went for 35 and 61 yards. Kaepernick also had a 17-yard gain on a scramble, which was reminiscent of the dual-threat quarterback that was built up to be unstoppable.
At times, he flashed the improvisational skills and all-encompassing ability that would allow him to take advantage of what the defense gave him on a given play. Stopping him from having an even bigger day? Well, he was still limited by the play-calling and lack of viable receiving options.
Not to mention, Kap did turn it over twice, throwing a red-zone interception on a pass intended for Bruce Miller and falling victim to a strip-sack.
The pick was not as much his fault, as it was tipped. The sack, however, was his fault, as Kaepernick was frolicking in the pocket with the ball held away from his body. This hurts his grade, but it was still an uplifting performance for the man behind center.
Frank Gore: A-
Consistency at it’s finest.
No. 21 has continued to be a strength in San Francisco’s offense, piling it on again this past week. Gore carried 25 times and got over the century mark, including long run of 32 yards. The balance he has provided this offense in its time of need has been invaluable.
Kendall Hunter: B
Considering the number of carries Gore had, combined with attempts from Bruce Miller and Marlon Moore, there were not a lot of opportunities for Kendall Hunter to get his hands on the football. Nevertheless, he did what he could with what he had, even scoring a key red-zone touchdown.
Bruce Miller: B+
In blocking, receiving and short-yardage situations, Miller has been a quality player for the 49ers offense, providing it with dependability while it lacks explosiveness. While it is not a very stimulating way for fans to watch the team move the ball, it works right now.
Vernon Davis: A++
No other word to describe it than “unstoppable.” A one-man wrecking crew, Davis was the driving force behind this win, racking up eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He torched the secondary and made it look really, really easy, which does not happen often in the NFL.
This was arguably the best regular-season game of Davis’ career.
Vance McDonald: C+
Making a catch early on in the game, it seemed like there was a chance that McDonald would get more involved on Sunday. That is not how it worked out. His one grab in the flat that went for seven yards would be it for the day. He was throwing haymakers in the trenches, though.
#49ers Vernon Davis became first TE with 60-plus-yard TDs in consecutive weeks since 1969.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) October 14, 2013
Anquan Boldin: C+
It seems as if the lack of talent at the wide receiver position is beginning to do what everyone feared: affect Anquan Boldin. The 49ers' No. 1 wideout right now is having difficulty being productive on a weekly basis, largely because he receives so much attention. Only three grabs for 28 yards?
That is not the Boldin that went off in the postseason or in Week 1 of 2013.
Kyle Williams: D-
Williams had another opportunity to start—his first since Week 3. Once again, it was unsuccessful, as Colin Kaepernick failed to find the team’s longest-tenured wideout. He had one grab for 14 yards and that was it for the day. It is beginning to look like he will never break through.
Jon Baldwin: D+
Baldwin was one of five players to catch one pass versus the Cards, and it only went for nine yards. Not exactly an impact play or game-breaking performance, but it doesn’t even appear as if the 49ers are relying on him to produce. In several red-zone situations, the Niners did not even try to target their 6’4” pass-catcher.
Marlon Moore: D
The team’s No. 4 receiver had one carry for nine yards and zero catches. Like the rest of the receivers, Moore put forth an awfully underwhelming performance. This unit as a whole has been tanking week to week. Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree can’t get back soon enough.
Joe Staley: A
Week in and week out, Staley continues to play at a high level, both in pass protection and in the run game. His athleticism as a left tackle is perfect for this offense, especially now when it comes to protecting a dual-threat like Colin Kaepernick. The running backs also love him.
Mike Iupati: A-
The road-grader of the team was a major asset this weekend, going up against a tough-as-nails defensive line. Iupati is one of the leaders when it comes to setting the tone, and the 49ers managed to accomplish that yet again. You also have to appreciate his bravado playing through a shoulder injury.
Jonathan Goodwin: B+
Whenever the 49ers line up to play the Cardinals, this protection unit needs to keep its head on a swivel, which is precisely what it did this week. In the middle, Goodwin was both cerebral and physical, keeping Darnell Docket out of Kap’s face and getting to the second level when needed.
Alex Boone: A
Two notable runs stemmed from the right side, with Alex Boone blowing open major holes for the running backs. Frank Gore’s 32-yard gain and Kendall Hunter’s red-zone score were both made possible by Boone. He had a solid game overall.
49ers right tackle Anthony Davis was able to keep Kaepernick’s jersey clean, locking up a filled-out Cardinals defensive line that has solid pass-rush ability. He and Boone were also asked to face a physical test on that right side and came out ahead. Pounding the rock was a big part of this win.
Adam Snyder: B
Kudos to the 49ers’ primary backup O-lineman for answering the call of duty when Iupati had to leave the field with a shoulder injury. Snyder filled in nicely and also appeared in the team’s ever-popular jumbo package, as San Francisco grinded out on the ground with the backs.
Justin Smith: A
The 49ers are truly fortunate to have Justin Smith on the defensive line, which is still pressing offenses, even without Ian Williams and now Glenn Dorsey. Disregard the box score—the fact that "The Cowboy" only registered one tackle on the stat sheet does not do him justice.
Smith’s quarterback pressures, as well as his ability to free up his defensive linemates and linebackers, were what drove this unit. Whether it was a Carson Palmer interception or a Corey Lemonier sack/safety, he left his fingerprint on every play.
Glenn Dorsey: N/A
The next man falling victim to the injury bug was 49ers defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, who tweaked his hamstring early on. After clutching it on the field, he returned to the sideline under his own power, but was out for the remainder of the game with an ice wrap on his leg.
Ray McDonald: B+
After being questionable with a partial biceps tear, McDonald appeared to be favoring his leg versus the Cardinals. He is clearly playing injured, not even close 100 percent, but he is still making a difference. He did not have any tackles, but McDonald helped control the line of scrimmage.
Tony Jerod-Eddie: B+
After having to fill in for Ray McDonald (biceps) last week, Jerod-Eddie was asked to step up and play the nose this time. He was eventually targeted a little later by the Cardinals run game, but he held his own. The 49ers were able to win a hard-fought game in the trenches with a third-string DT.
That says quite a bit about Jerod-Eddie’s game and the depth on defense.
Ahmad Brooks: B+
Sunday was not Brooks’ day to shine on the stat sheet, but he was once again a very active contributor on defense. With the Cardinals running the ball 20-plus times, it was helpful to have him there setting the edge. Akin to the defensive linemen, Brooks can engage and disengage at will and ruin plays.
He is a powerful guy with a great fix on his center of gravity.
Corey Lemonier: A+
Yes, rookie linebacker Corey Lemonier receives a higher grade than Ahmad Brooks this week. He was all over the place on Sunday, wreaking havoc on whoever had their hands on the football. Lemonier finished with three tackles, one sack, one safety and a forced fumble that was recovered by NaVorro Bowman.
Corey Lemonier with the sack/safety. Lemonier is French for SackQB— Dave Feldman (@FeldyCSN) October 13, 2013
NaVorro Bowman: B
Not quite stunning performances from either 'backer, but these two showed up to play, as per usual. Bowman wound up finishing third on the day in tackles with four solos and two assists. However, his highlight was falling on a loose ball that was knocked loose by Corey Lemonier.
On Sunday, Willis was the tackle-leader of the two All-Pro linebackers, which is not normally the case. He returned from his groin injury after missing games versus the Rams and Texans and got right in the mix, racking up six solo tackles, two assists and a key forced fumble.
Tarell Brown: C
Certainly not a strong performance from the team’s starting cornerback, as he allowed a touchdown to Michael Floyd on a flag route. It was not a clean game from Brown overall, as he was beaten several times and dropped an interception. He looked out of it. He is usually San Francisco’s most dependable cover corner.
Carlos Rogers: B-
Rogers is teetering on B-/C+ range here, showing the two sides of himself on Sunday, both good and bad. He led the team in tackles with seven and an assist while also being the one to pull in the second interception on the day.
However, he was burned badly by a rookie UDFA for 53-yarder, which set up an Andre Ellington touchdown on the following play.
Tramaine Brock: A
The NFC’s reigning Defensive Player of the Week had another strong showing in this one, having the best game out of the top three featured cornerbacks. Now comfortable within the scheme, Brock is playing how Brown usually does, with an intelligent and highly fundamental style of play.
Perrish Cox: B
This was another player who has helped keep things quiet in the secondary. As the fourth corner and primary rotational option behind the top three with Nnamdi Asomugha now inactive, Cox is holding his own on one-on-ones. He is also showing his versatility by lining up in the slot and boundary, as well as contributing on special teams.
Eric Reid: A
How does Eric Reid keep doing it? As a rookie, he continues to find a way to shine each week in a star-studded defensive unit. In both run support and pass coverage, he has been exceptional, playing such an astute brand of football—yet it has an extremely physical polish.
The 21-year-old is already looking like a Pro Bowl safety. This past week, Reid notched his third career interception and recovered a fumble.
Donte Whitner: B
The play got behind Whitner on one occasion, but for the most part, this was a solid performance by the strong safety. With the hard-hitting bravado still there and his offseason work on coverage paying off, it is easy to argue this is the veteran’s best year as a pro.
All Eric Reid does is make big plays. #49ers— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) October 13, 2013
Andy Lee: A
Andy Lee is like the Patrick Willis of punting.
What can you say about him that hasn’t already been said? He is a model of consistency, really bringing value in a time when the 49ers need to win the battle of field position. He has received excellent support from the coverage unit as well.
Phil Dawson: A
On Sunday, Phil Dawson netted 12 points for the 49ers, finishing 3-of-3 on field goals and 3-of-3 on extra points. He was a perfect 100 percent from the field and sent some booming kickoffs down the field, providing a nice head start for the Tony Montana squad.