Here are the 49ers’ grades after their 15-14 win over the Chicago Bears.
QUARTERBACK: C-plus. Jimmy Garoppolo did an acceptable job during his debut as the 49ers starting quarterback. He seemed to understand the 49ers system, he moved the offense, made accurate throws into small windows, scrambled a few times to extend plays, avoided pressure, performed well on third down and won. He gets credit for all of that. You could knock him for his interception, but that wasn’t his fault even though he threw the ball slightly behind the intended receiver, Louis Murphy. Murphy should have caught that pass. He let the cornerback snatch the ball out of his hands. No, I don’t fault Garoppolo for the interception – I fault him for not throwing a touchdown pass, not attempting a deep throw and posting a quarterback rating of 56.3 in the red zone. NFL teams typically lose if they don’t score touchdowns. But the 49ers were facing the Bears, who struggle weekly just to score 10 points. Garoppolo did enough to win. He made short throws that were available to him and posted a quarterback rating of 90 outside the red zone. Congratulations to Jimmy for winning his first game as the 49ers starting quarterback.
RUNNING BACKS: D. Carlos Hyde gained only 54 rushing yards on 17 carries, fumbled a pitch for the third or fourth time this season (counting exhibition games) and dropped a pass. His rushing average for the season now is 3.98 yards per carry, the lowest of his career. He is a poor fit for Kyle Shanahan’s system, as I’ve always said. Don’t be surprised if he signs with the Seahawks this offseason.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B. Marquise Goodwin and had 99 receiving yards and Trent Taylor had 92 receiving yards. Both had the best game of their careers. Both are better at beating man-to-man coverage than I realized. Garoppolo enabled those two to showcase their abilities. Goodwin and Taylor seem like keepers, but neither is a No. 1 receiver. And neither is effective in the red zone.
TIGHT ENDS: D. George Kittle almost made a great catch, but landed out of bounds. At least he didn’t drop the ball.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B. The run blocking was mediocre, but the pass protection was good. The offensive line allowed only two sacks, and one wasn’t their fault. Jimmy Garoppolo ran into a defender when he was rolling out during the first sack. The other sack was Brandon Fusco’s fault.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. This group gave up only 38 rushing yards to Jordan Howard, who came into the game with 847 rushing yards. And this group recorded two sacks – Elvis Dumervil recorded one and Cassius Marsh recorded the other. Dumervil and Marsh are the best edge rushers on the 49ers – better than Solomon Thomas, the rookie first-round pick. But Thomas played well today. He lined up at nose tackle on third down and beat the Bears center and knocked down Mitchell Trubisky. Thomas always should rush from the inside.
LINEBACKERS: A-minus. Brock Coyle gave up a long run, but otherwise the 49ers linebackers were terrific. Reuben Foster led the defense with seven tackles.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B. Greg Mabin gave up a touchdown catch while filling in for starting cornerback Dontae Johnson. Mabin apparently plays for the 49ers. I don’t know no Mabin. Collectively, this group gave up a completion percentage of 80 and a quarterback of 117.2 to Trubisky. But Trubisky attempted only 15 passes and threw for just 102 yards. The Bears passing game was mostly non-existent.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C. The 49ers punt coverage was terrible – Tarik Cohen returned a punt for a touchdown. But the 49ers field-goal kicking was fantastic – Robbie Gould made all five of his kicks. So, I’m splitting this grade down the middle.
COACHES: C-plus. Kyle Shanahan managed to keep Garoppolo healthy and win a game at the same time. That’s impressive. But, the 49ers continued to make way too many unforced errors. That’s on Shanahan. And the offense continued to stink in the red zone no matter who the quarterback is. That’s on Shanahan, too. The 49ers were 0-for-5 in the red zone against the Bears, and scored no more than 15 points for the eighth time this season. Shanahan needs to improve. Garoppolo can’t fix everything himself.