San Francisco 49ers Report Card: Grades for Each Position Group from Sunday
While the 49ers had shown signs of struggling in the opening preseason of new coach Jim Harbaugh, the Niners played disciplined and mistake-free football to start the new year.
They also saw strong performances from their special teams and offensive and defensive lines.
It wasn't always pretty, but a win is a win.
Here are the grades for the 49ers' position groups for Week 1.
Alex Smith, the much maligned on again off again starter over the past six years, played well enough to keep the offense moving throughout the day. He was greatly benefited by a strong day for the offensive line, which did not allow a sack.
Smith completed 15 of 20 pass attempts for 124 yards, and scored a touchdown on a gutsy run toward the end of the first half. He had no interceptions and no fumbles.
Despite this mistake free football, it should be noted that Smith (and the rest of the offense) could not get the job done in the red zone. The Niners settled for four red zone field goals Sunday.
While I'm not sure I can cosign Harbaugh's statement that Smith played "exceptionally well," it's clear Smith put together a decent game.
The running game, hindered by a lack of push from the offensive line, struggled to get rolling.
Frank Gore led the ground game, finishing with 59 yards on 22 carries, and another 19 yards on 3 receptions.
Most distressing was the lack of push from the line in goal line situations. Several goal line rush attempts were completely snuffed out by the Seattle line. Fullback Moran Norris struggled at times to make blocks on these goal line pushes.
It's tough to imagine a talented back like Gore continuing to struggle, but there are clearly some blocking questions that need to be answered before Week 2.
This was a solid performance from the Niners tight ends in Week 1.
Vernon Davis led the team with five catches for 47 yards, and made a few tough catches in traffic.
Delanie Walker was more effective on the special teams end, finishing the game with four tackles.
Sunday was a mixed day for the receiving corps.
Braylon Edwards helped draw a pass interference call that set up Alex Smith's second quarter rushing touchdown, while Joshua Morgan had a nice 26-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
Most disappointing was the discovery that Michael Crabtree is not fully healthy after offseason surgery. After a first half that saw him catch one pass for four yards (and drop a second pass his way), Crabtree exited the game after one second half play.
Truly a mixed day for the offensive line.
The offensive line's terrific play in pass protection (Smith was never sacked and had plenty of time to throw) was negated by their inability to create holes for running back Frank Gore and the rushing attack (the Niners ended with 85 rushing yards on the day).
The line will need to step up their play if they want to get the rushing game going against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2. However, the play Sunday was a major step up from the group's underwhelming efforts in the preseason.
An excellent day for the defensive line Sunday.
Justin Smith was dominant, finishing the game with four tackles and two sacks.
Ray McDonald, who hadn't started an NFL game since 2008, gave the Seattle front headaches throughout the day. He racked up six tackles and a sack
In his first NFL play, Will Tufuaku caught a floating fumble from Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and moved it deep into Seahawks territory.
The game had a solid performance from the linebackers Sunday.
Patrick Willis didn't have his best game, but racked up five tackles and recovered a fumble.
Navorro Bowman, taking over the spot left by the departing Takeo Spikes, led the team with seven tackles on the day.
Parys Haralson was electric, totaling two sacks and forcing a pair of fumbles (including the one that was caught by Will Tufuaku.)
The defensive secondary put up a so-so performance on Sunday.
Donte Whitner performed admirably in his Niners' debut, finishing with five tackles and a pass deflection. Tarrell Brown also had five tackles and a pass deflection.
Carlos Rogers also did well in his first game as a 49er.
Madieu Williams picked up a questionable 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness for his big hit on Anthony McCoy (you can be the judge if the penalty was deserved).
The unit (particularly Reggie Smith) allowed Seattle Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to throw for two touchdowns, including a 55-yard score to Doug Baldwin. The latter score allowed the Seahawks to close the 49ers' lead to two points late in the game.
An unbelievably excellent day overall for the special teams unit.
Wide receiver/returner Ted Ginn Jr. headlined the day, finishing what was at the time a very close game with two great returns for touchdowns in the fourth quarter. It was the first time in NFL history a player had returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown on opening day.
David Akers confidently handled his four field goals (although it should be noted he didn't have a kick longer than 31 yards Sunday).
Andy Lee had a career day, averaging a whopping 59.6 yards per punt attempt on five punts. Lee led the league in Week 1 in both average punt yardage and average net punt yardage.