Here are the grades for the 49ers 34-0 trouncing of the Jets – the worst team in the NFL despite their 2-2 record.
Quarterbacks: C. Alex Smith completed 12 of 21 passes for 143 yards. No touchdowns or turnovers. He did not complete a pass on third down. Twice he was sacked because he held ball for more than three seconds in the pocket. Colin Kaepernick attempted one pass – he forced it deep to Randy Moss, who was double covered, and the pass was almost intercepted. Kaepernick rushed 5 times for 50 yards and a touchdown as well. He could have had a second rushing touchdown at the end of the game, but he slid near the goal line to kill the clock.
Offensive line: B. They didn’t allow much pressure against a subpar defensive line. The offensive line also blocked well in the run game – the Niners gained 245 yards on the ground – but the Jets missed at least a dozen tackles on those runs.
Running backs: B. Frank Gore had his worst game of the season, rushing 21 times for 62 yards including a 2-yard touchdown. Kendall Hunter had an excellent game, rushing 8 times for 54 yards including a 1-yard TD.
Wide receivers: D. Michael Crabtree caught just two of the seven passes thrown his way, and he was completely dominated when he faced Jets’ CB Antonio Cromartie. Alex Smith never threw a pass to Randy Moss. Mario Manningham had a pretty good game, catching three passes for 47 yards and rushing once for 28 yards. But he dropped a deep pass on third down he probably should have caught.
Tight ends: C. Even though he was getting open, Vernon Davis didn’t get targeted for a pass until late in the first half. Smith ended up throwing two passes to Davis and he caught both of them. Delanie Walker also caught two passes, but dropped two as well. It seems he drops a couple every game.
Defensive line: A. Backup nose tackle Ricky Jean Francois filled in well for the injured starter, Isaac Sopoaga. The Jets tried to run the ball right at Jean Francois but got nowhere. Ray McDonald tipped a pass which Patrick Willis intercepted. Justin Smith had four tackles and a fumble recovery.
Linebackers: A. Aldon Smith sacked Mark Sanchez twice and forced him to fumble once. Ahmad Brooks also sacked Sanchez once. Patrick Willis had 10 tackles, two passes defensed and an interception. NaVorro Bowman had eight tackles and a dropped interception.
Secondary: A. Dashon Goldson forced a fumble and broke up a deep pass to Santonio Holmes when the game was still relatively close. Carlos Rogers recovered two fumbles and returned one 51 yards for a touchdown. Donte Whitner almost picked off a pass – he dove and trapped it against the turf.
Special teams. B+. David Akers missed two field goals. Anthony Dixon was flagged for an illegal block in the back. Those were the negatives. On the positive side, Andy Lee pinned the Jets behind their 5-yard line twice and Larry Grant blocked a punt.
Coaching: C. Greg Roman’s offensive game plan revolved around trick plays – end arounds, options, quarterback runs, etc. It wasn’t a bad game plan. Any game plan would have worked against this Jets team that couldn’t score a single point, turned the ball over four times (almost six times) and had a punt blocked. The Niners could have started Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and called nothing but read-option runs if they wanted, and they still would have won.
But it would have been in the Niners long-term interest if Roman’s game plan hadn’t been so cute.
Every good offense needs core plays that can succeed against good defenses. Roman didn’t develop those plays today. As a result, his offense is still searching for an identity a quarter of the way through the season.