Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers have not been the type to score an outrageous number of points, with the offense outshining the defense, but that is what has been going on these past few weeks.
Since Week 4, the Niners have a 174-61 point advantage, averaging 22.6 more points per game than their opponents.
In winning its fifth straight, the team tied a franchise record by scoring 30 or more points in five consecutive games, which had not been done since the 1994 and 1997 seasons, when Steve Young was in his heyday, via 49ers public relations director Bob Lange.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick appears to be finding his life force, two of the team’s long-time playmakers are shouldering the load and the offensive line is pitch-perfect nearly every week. Not to mention, the defense has been beating teams up and regaining its swagger.
After their latest smackdown—this time on the Jacksonville Jaguars—we’ll take a look at how the 49ers' individual players graded out. The following will provide letter grades of the San Francisco players in Week 8, along with a blurb about their in-game execution and season to date.
- Expectations: Some players can look really good out there, but how much did they leave on the field?
- Statistics: If you were blanked, booming or something in between, this plays a significant role as to how a player is graded.
- Impact: Stats are great and all, but did those yards come in garbage time or on a 3rd-and-long? The clutch value factors in here.
- Consistency: One big play can change a game, but consistency down to down can make sure you win it. Who was bringing it on every play?
Colin Kaepernick: A
The 49ers quarterback is getting back to his dangerous, dual-threat ways, as per usual. This is the high-powered version who received praise coming out of Nevada-Reno and the one who beat out Alex Smith for the starting gig.
After a performance dip in Weeks 2-3, Kap has visibly progressed each week, helping this team to string together a five-game win streak.
On Sunday versus the Jags, he went 10-of-16 for 164 yards and a single passing touchdown, with no interceptions. Couple that with seven carries for 54 yards and a pair of scores off the read-option and it was an awfully productive day for the 49ers quarterback.
Kap accounted for 200-plus all-purpose yards, which was nearly 55 percent of the total offense. He also channeled the intuitive scoring threat that we were used to seeing, going on to score three of the six touchdowns on Sunday. On top of that, he also did not turn the ball over, which was huge.
In this five-game win streak, Kaepernick has effectively piled up nine total touchdowns to only one interception, whereas he had three touchdowns to four interceptions in Weeks 1-3.
Colin Kaepernick: 1st player to post a Total QBR of at least 99 in consecutive weeks since Total QBR was first tracked in 2006.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2013
Frank Gore: A
The 49ers' star tailback led the day in carries, repping out 19 for 71 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a couple long runs of 19 yards as well.
His day got him to 9,457 career rushing yards, moving him past Earl Campbell and Shaun Alexander for 30th in NFL history.
He has had a phenomenal campaign in what looks like a Hall of Fame career.
Kendall Hunter: A
Surprisingly, the 49ers' No. 2 running back was actually the rushing leader on the day, racking up 84 yards (a lot of which came in garbage time). Nevertheless, it was a career high for Hunter, who has had a tough time taking any carries away from a hot-handed Frank Gore.
He also had the longest run of the season with a 41-yarder.
Anthony Dixon: B-
The 49ers' third-string tailback was hardly a factor on Sunday, only getting one carry for two yards. His most notable play happened when he came to relieve Kyle Williams of kick-return duties and wound up taking one out for 47 yards. You could say Dixon had a good day, but only as it relates to his usual impact.
Bruce Miller: A
Someone whose stock is rising on the 49ers is fullback Bruce Miller, who is getting work as a runner, a blocker, a special teamer and a receiver. While his one rushing attempt went for zero yards, he had two catches for 56 yards, including a long on the day of 43 yards.
He also played a pivotal role on a day when the offense racked up 221 net rushing yards and Colin Kaepernick was not sacked.
With two rushing TDs today Frank Gore has had back to back 2 rushing TD games for the first time in his career.— Bob Lange (@49ersPR) October 27, 2013
Vernon Davis: A-
There are no wasted movements with Davis. Every play to him seems calculated, and this season, those plays seem to be unstoppable. On Sunday, he was able to reel in three of his four targets, finishing with 52 yards and a touchdown.
He also continued to hammer guys as a blocker.
Vance McDonald: C+
The rookie tight end did not impact this game from a receiving standpoint and was actually shut out completely. While he did not have any catches or targets, McDonald did see a fair number of reps as a blocker and was able to be a decoy.
That is how he was able to provide a helping hand, as the 49ers came out with their two-tight end sets on 30 of 55 offensive plays called, via Tyson Langland of Bleacher Report.
Jags went with the Schiano Cover-Nobody on that Vernon Davis TD.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) October 27, 2013
Anquan Boldin: B-
Anquan Boldin did not go over 100 yards or find the end zone, so it is hard to give him a top-flight grade here.
However, he did not have a bad game.
Boldin came up with four of six targets for 56 yards (14.0 YPC). And again, we have to consider that he is getting boxed in as a No. 1 when he works better as a complement. His game should take off after the bye week once Mario Manningham and eventually Michael Crabtree are back in the lineup.
Kyle Williams: F
It was perhaps his worst regular-season game as a pro—and considering the 49ers are getting players back and he is in a contract year, it literally could not have come at a worse time. Williams was targeted three times on Sunday and had two passes deflect off his hands.
He also had a fumble on a kick return that he nearly lost, while he muffed another punt out of bounds.
We're three minutes into the game and Kyle Williams has fumbled (he recovered it) and had two passes (tough chances) deflect off his hands.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) October 27, 2013
Joe Staley: A
San Francisco’s backside tackle kept Colin Kaepernick clean all game, not allowing a single sack. He was also able to showcase his athleticism as an edge-protector in this creative run scheme. The 49ers ran a quarterback sweep where Staley got outside and paved the way for a TD.
Mike Iupati: A
Much of this game was fought between the hashes, which put the Niners in a position to stick their mauling left guard on the Jags' front, allowing him to eat up potential tacklers at every level. The Pro Bowl guard demonstrated his flawless technique and created a lot of opportunities for the backs.
Jonathan Goodwin: B+
Then there’s Goodwin, who has quietly been doing an exceptional job for the 49ers in the middle. For most of those interior runs, the play design often relies on the center’s ability to get to the second level and get a hat on the linebacker. He has done that, even though he is known as a pass-protecting guard.
Alex Boone: A
The 49ers' right guard has turned into one of the best finds of the new regime and arguably one of the best on the line. Even though Iupati was the high first-rounder and Boone was an undrafted free-agent tackle-turned-guard, there really is not that much separating their level of play right now.
He had another strong game versus the Jags.
Davis has been a very good anchor on the right side of the San Francisco offensive line this season, building on a strong beginning to his pro career. He pitched another shutout versus Jason Babin and the Jags on Sunday, keeping Kap upright for the duration of the game.
Justin Smith: A
If you think about what he’s had to do, it's pretty incredible. A 34-year-old Justin Smith has essentially had to return to his playing style and level of efficiency prior to Aldon Smith’s arrival.
His game has been totally different in No. 99’s absence, as "The Cowboy" has gotten back to being a one-man wrecking crew in the trenches.
He’s been doing a bit more pass rushing, rather than just hooking the tackle and letting the linebackers shoot the gaps.
Glenn Dorsey: B
No sacks for Glenn Dorsey, who has a couple on the season, on Sunday, but he has been a total behemoth as a run-stuffing nose tackle. While he only had one tackle on the day, he did a good job clogging running lanes. The 49ers did not allow a 100-yard rusher or a rushing touchdown.
Ray McDonald: B+
Checking in game after game with a partially torn biceps, Ray McDonald should walk away with the iron man trophy this year. Even with that being the case, he has fulfilled his duties and provided stability up front. He logged three tackles on Sunday versus the Jags.
Corey Lemonier: B-
A “stud” is a title typically reserved for a young player who shows up on the scene right away and just gets it. The game makes sense to him. That is essentially what rookie pass-rusher Corey Lemonier has shown in his time taking over for Aldon Smith at right outside linebacker.
Even though he did not register a tackle, he was pressuring the quarterback again on Sunday and was not a liability in coverage.
More often than not, 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis can be found near the ball-carrier. He is a terror on the field. A few times versus the Jags, he was like the boogeyman, popping out of nowhere and making a play. He finished the day with six tackles and a forced fumble.
NaVorro Bowman: A
San Francisco’s other All-Pro 'backer had himself a day and is headed back to the states with a team high in tackles. He had 10 on the day, adding to his 45 on the year. This is the second game of the season in which he has had double-digit takedowns. He also had another batted pass.
Ahmad Brooks: B+
The stocky strong-side linebacker powered through to make three tackles today and, once again, did a terrific job setting that edge. His zip from snap to whistle, running down plays and impacting them in different ways, has made Brooks one of the unsung heroes for the 49ers again in 2013.
Dan Skuta: B+
Six tackles and a three-yard stuff earned Dan Skuta some much-deserved recognition in Week 8. Typically, you’re not going to see this level of play from a journeyman special teamer who is finally trying his hand on defense. Skuta also had the defensive play of the game with a 47-yard fumble recover for a touchdown.
Tarell Brown: B+
It was certainly a positive performance for Tarell Brown, who did a fine job limiting wideouts Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III.
He did have a missed tackle but made up for it with a clutch pass breakup in the end zone. No. 25 was the best-looking corner on the day.
Carlos Rogers: C+
If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Rogers is clearly getting worse. He was flagged for a defensive holding on third down, which resulted in a Jags first down, and he even fell down in coverage on another occasion. Not a great showing by the Pro Bowler.
Tramaine Brock: B-
This could very easily be in the C/C+ range, the reason being that Brock was playing the ball too aggressively and let up a big 29-yard touchdown to Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown. However, he was solid for the rest of the game, nearly grabbing his fourth pick of the season.
He also registered five tackles on the day, which led the corners.
Perrish Cox: N/A
No. 4 corner Perrish Cox was quiet as a mouse. He did not have any tackles, pass breakups or anything of the sort. Usually, though, when a corner is not hearing his name called, it means he is doing a good job (unlike the wide receiver position). Cox has provided strong depth thus far.
Tramaine Brock waaay too eager for interceptions. He bites and the Jaguars get their first touchdown.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 27, 2013
Eric Reid: B+
The 49ers' rookie safety compiled eight tackles of his own, which was the second-highest total on the team, behind ILB NaVorro Bowman. Each and every week, he is finding a different way to make an impact. This week, the Niners had to stop Maurice Jones-Drew, and they did.
Reid helped in run support and did not let the play get behind him.
Donte Whitner: B
Donte Whitner plays a pivotal role in the strong team defense the 49ers rely on every Sunday.
He sets the tempo, helps stop the run and busts heads. This year, he has made a vast improvement in terms of coverage, which was a prior weakness. Eight weeks in the books and he has not been picked on. Even though he only had one tackle, this was another performance he could hang his hat on.
Eric Reid is really getting good on the back end of that 49ers defense. Upgrade from Goldson. There, I said it.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) October 15, 2013
Andy Lee: A+
It was a relatively easy day for 49ers punter Andy Lee, who only had to boot it down the field on one occasion. With the 49ers dropping a 40-burger on the Jaguars, his services were hardly required. But when he had to punt, it went for 61 yards.
Phil Dawson: A
The team’s place-kicker, Phil Dawson, also benefited from the offensive clinic the 49ers put on display. There were no field-goal attempts on his behalf and the six extra-point attempts he had were all good, as expected.
This unit is aces again, really looking sharp every time it charges downfield. There was a rough patch when the team was struggling to get over the losses of safety Colin Jones and linebacker Blake Costanzo, who were key contributors.
However, there's been a real improvement on the coverage team this year.
This group would have earned an A+ if it had been able to find some sort of solution in the return game. Return man Kyle Williams had a terrible day before Anthony Dixon replaced him, concluding a poor showing in Week 8. The return team can do a lot better when it comes to setting up the offense with good field position.
It's third down and 19. Should someone wake up Andy Lee or let him sleep some more?— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) October 27, 2013