49ers vs. Saints: Full Roster Report Card Grades for San Francisco

Dylan DeSimone@@DeSimone80Correspondent INovember 18, 2013

49ers vs. Saints: Full Roster Report Card Grades for San Francisco

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    Despite losing their fourth game of the 2013 NFL season—during a year in which they were expected to make a quantum leap—the San Francisco 49ers do have a few positive takeaways from Sunday's encounter with the New Orleans Saints

    It was not a total bust, especially knowing that the team was one bad call away from returning to Candlestick Park as 7-3 contenders. The team did play well in a lot of areas. Certain guys in particular have really made cases for themselves as future role players on this team, while other vets have stepped their games up significantly. 

    However, to appreciate the good, it is also important to recognize the bad.

    The Niners have come up short in a several areas on the field, and they were magnified again this past Sunday against a very astute New Orleans coaching staff. Once again, the team was exposed, which has caused concern now that we're heading into Week 12.

    Once again, it's time to take a look at San Francisco's most recent showing, complete with player-by-player analysis and grades.   

    Grading criteria: 

    1. Expectations: Some players can look really good out there, but how much did they leave on the field?
    2. Statistics: If you were blanked, booming or something in between, this plays a significant role as to how a player is graded.
    3. 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.
    4. 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?


    Statistics provided by ESPN.com Game Center and Pro Football Reference, unless specified otherwise.


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    Colin Kaepernick: C-

    Not a failing grade for the 49ers quarterback, but it wasn’t a very good showing all around. After posting a 7.7 Total QBR in last week’s loss, he followed it up with a 46.0 this time around versus the Saints, throwing an interception, completing half his passes and being sacked three times.

    He only strung together a few good plays, including a pair of touchdowns to Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin. 

    ESPN: Kaepernick has 96.9 QBR vs. teams with losing record and a 38.8 QBR vs. teams .500 or better.

    — Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) November 18, 2013

Running Back

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    Frank Gore: C+ 

    Gore only averaged 3.7 yards per carry against a revamped New Orleans defense that sold out to stop the run.

    The 49ers' star running back also had a key drop late in the game, which could have made this a different ballgame.

    However, he did rip the Saints for 24 yards at one point and was robbed of carries (finished with 13), so it is only fair to account for the situational aspect.


    Kendall Hunter: D

    Honestly, Kendall Hunter is another player the 49ers are using improperly. They hardly utilize him, and when he does get in the game, he almost always takes the handoff, so defenses know it’s coming. This is why he averaged 0.3 yards per attempt versus the Saints on Sunday.


    LaMichael James: C+

    James had 11 all-purpose yards, so it’s difficult to give him a terrific grade. However, he averaged 3.5 yards per carry, which wasn’t much less than Gore, and arguably would’ve had a higher level of production if he weren’t forced to take a read-option handoff up the gut on one occasion.


    Bruce Miller: B-

    The 49ers fullback did not have a bad day blocking and receiving, but he could’ve fared to do a little more of both. The Niners were not able to really get him, or anyone, in any sort of rhythm. This is a much better offense when Miller is making those extra-effort plays.

    It is worth noting that Miller tied wideout Mario Manningham in receiving on the day with eight yards, catching two of two targets.


Tight End

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    Vernon Davis: B- 

    Surprisingly, San Francisco’s monster tight end was bottled up by a Saints defense that he has torched on multiple occasions. He did have four receptions on five targets for 33 yards and a touchdown, but it was not a game-changing performance like we’ve seen from Davis.

    He also had a drop.

    Moreover, in a week when New Orleans did not have safety Kenny Vaccaro on hand, the onus should have been on No. 85 to take this game over. Instead, the 49ers' passing offense had one of its worst showings this season.


    Vance McDonald: C-

    How will Vance McDonald’s 10th game be remembered? Well, the 49ers tight end had his second drop in as many weeks, on a play that would’ve been a first down if he had boxed out the coverage and showed strong hands. It didn’t happen that way, and it resulted in just one more incompletion for Colin Kaepernick.

    On Sunday, McDonald finished with 10 yards, reeling in one of two targets.

Wide Receiver

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    Anquan Boldin: B-

    Statistically, this will be remembered as one of Anquan Boldin’s better games donning scarlet and gold.

    However, the 49ers' No. 1 wideout failed to produce consistently on the day, proving again that he is much better suited as a complementary weapon in the passing attack.

    Boldin finished the day as the leading receiver, catching six of nine targets for 56 yards and a touchdown.


    Mario Manningham: D

    One catch for eight yards isn’t quite the impact the 49ers were hoping they’d get out of Mario Manningham, but like they say, it is what it is. He wasn’t a superstar receiver before his double-ligament tear, and it’s hard to expect much more now that he is easing his way back into football.

    Nevertheless, the Niners are counting on him right now as a starter and they did not get much of anything.


    Jon Baldwin: F

    This is the 49ers’ third and really only other wide receiver who contributes on offense. Outside of that, it’s Kassim Osgood, who is limited to special teams. Baldwin was targeted three times and did not manage to come up with any of them. He is no better than A.J. Jenkins at this point.

Offensive Line

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    Joe Staley: C

    On Sunday, the 49ers' Pro Bowl left tackle got burned around the edges and had a tough time handling pressure from New Orleans. All of San Francisco’s offensive linemen did. However, it is on Staley to set the tone in the trenches, and this was one of those games the Niners lost because they did not.


    Mike Iupati: N/A

    Iupati will finish with an incomplete grade due to his knee injury, which caused him to leave the game. He was teetering on an unflattering grade like the rest of his linemates, though. Again, this 49ers run game should have been able to slam the ball down the Saints’ throat and it did not do that.


    Jonathan Goodwin: C

    Whenever the 49ers are having a tough time running the football, especially in short-yardage situations, since they like to run inside, it is because center Jonathan Goodwin isn’t having the best of days. On Sunday, he most notably failed to create inside running lanes for the trio of backs.


    Alex Boone:

    For a team that likes to pound teams from the inside out, San Francisco relies on Alex Boone to set the tone just as much as it does on Mike Iupati. Therefore, when this O-line plays like it did, he does not get a pass. The 49ers could’ve benefitted from Boone hitting one or two more key blocks to possibly spring a game-changing run.


    Anthony Davis: C- 

    The bully of the 49ers offensive line did not quite provide a clean pocket for Kap, but it was tough sledding all day for the San Francisco linemen. So Anthony Davis certainly wasn’t alone. But between him and Staley, it was clear to see the edges were caving in on the quarterback, and he did little to stop it.

Defensive Tackle

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    Justin Smith: A-

    Rarely are there football games when All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith does not show up to play, imposing his will.

    In Sunday’s loss, he was one of the team’s better performers, collapsing the pocket around Drew Brees and flat-out walloping the Saints running backs. 

    "The Cowboy" was everywhere, racking up five tackles and one for a loss.


    Glenn Dorsey: B-

    Not a terrible day for the 49ers' starting nose tackle, who took part in a strong overall defensive effort by the team. Facing these New Orleans runners can be a challenge, but Dorsey proved to be up to it, making three tackles on the day. He has not disappointed so far this season.


    Tony Jerod-Eddie: B-

    Filling in at left defensive tackle for Ray McDonald, it is safe to say that Tony Jerod-Eddie did as well as anyone could’ve hoped. It was a close game throughout, and the 49ers had a stout game in the trenches. Not having his name called for the wrong reasons is a good thing.


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    Corey Lemonier: N/A

    With 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith getting back into the fold, rookie Corey Lemonier has taken a backseat again. While he is still getting involved, he failed to record a single tackle on Sunday and unfortunately has not been able to follow up on his one career sack made five weeks ago.


    Patrick Willis: B

    The 49ers' starting inside linebacker was the team’s second-leading tackler on the day but still only managed to pick up six stops. The splash plays were not really there from Willis, either, though he did help pressure Drew Brees on a couple of occasions. Overall, you can’t knock his performance on a day when his defense did enough to win the football game.


    NaVorro Bowman: A

    Holy moly, NaVorro Bowman.

    This guy really is all over the place, doing a bit of everything. Week in and week out, Bowman always seems to be the first guy to the ball-carrier. This past week, he racked up a team-high 14 tackles, including one for a loss. He did a very solid job helping to contain Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham.


    Ahmad Brooks: A+

    Ahmad Brooks had a bigger game than the box score would indicate, and that is saying something, seeing as how he came up with a sack and an interception. It was an impeccable performance by the outside linebacker, who also had countless pressures and stood up to the run.


    Dan Skuta: N/A

    Like Lemonier, veteran linebacker Dan Skuta is in spot duty again. His showing, while incomplete, was on the plus side of things. He had three tackles and a QB hit, helping to bring pressure on the Saints quarterback.


    Aldon Smith: C+

    Aldon Smith had his named called a couple times, but it was not the big game he needed to have. The Saints are the type of team offensively that typically allows the All-Pro rush linebacker to pin his ears back and get after it. However, he could not capitalize on that opportunity, only racking up one tackle.


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    Tarell Brown: N/A

    The Niners’ No. 1 cornerback was putting forth a solid game before his injury, manning up and taking away the Saints’ outside weapons.

    Brown was even charged with covering all-world tight end Jimmy Graham and came up with a pass breakup. Unfortunately, he had to leave with a rib injury before halftime.


    Carlos Rogers: B-

    Considering the opponent, it would be hard to get on Carlos Rogers’ case for the game he had. It was not a poor showing by any means, as the secondary actually played very well in this one. His grade does take a hit for him getting burned on one occasion, though. Not a perfect outing.


    Tramaine Brock: B 

    Tramaine Brock has still been playing like San Francisco’s best cover corner in 2013, really showing his versatility and ability to hang with an array of different-style pass-catchers. He only had one tackle and one pass deflection, but overall, a solid effort by Brock in this matchup.


    Eric Wright:

    This was a tough first game for Eric Wright, especially after Tarell Brown had to leave with a rib contusion. Wright was coming off the non-football injury list, facing Drew Brees and Co. right out of the gate. Naturally, he was picked on by the Saints quarterback, who had a relative amount of success when targeting him.


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    Eric Reid: B+

    49ers rookie safety Eric Reid continues to play like a vet for this talent-laden defensive unit. He’s had some tough tests already in his career, but he managed to rise up once again, helping to hold Drew Brees to one passing touchdown. Reid finished with six tackles and one pass deflection.


    Donte Whitner: B+ 

    The bruising strong safety, who has been labeled coverage-deficient, actually had another solid game defending the deep part of the field. He had a pass breakup and did not let up the big play down the field, particularly to Jimmy Graham.

    Whitner also did a standout job in run support and in helping to contain Darren Sproles underneath.

    Both Donte Whitner and Eric Reid have coverage grades in our top 15 for safeties, and those last two plays are an example of why. #49ers

    — Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) November 17, 2013

Special Teams

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    Andy Lee: A

    All-Pro punter Andy Lee would’ve been one of San Francisco’s stars of the game had the team pulled this one out.

    If nothing else, the 49ers were able to win the field-position game because of Lee’s precision boots down the field.


    Phil Dawson: A

    Place-kicker Phil Dawson had another perfect game, going 100 percent from the field and tallying eight points to San Francisco’s total. He went 2-for-2, crushing one from 55 yards out, too. For a team that had trouble with kickers last year, the 49ers have had no complaints when it comes to Dawson.


    Coverage/Return: B-/C+

    This unit had some great plays, particularly the coverage unit. Early on, it locked up the Saints' return game and managed to get a takeaway, courtesy of Ray Ventrone’s awareness on the muffed punt. Unfortunately, it let up a big-gainer later on which gave the Saints great field position.

    The 49ers return unit did nothing positive to speak of.