PITTSBURGH – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 43-18 Week 2 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
COLIN KAEPERNICK: B+. Most of his production came in garbage time (read: the entire second half), so it’s tough to go gaga over his performance. But he performed well. He completed 33-of-45 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns, posted a passer rating of 106.7, escaped about five sacks and threw the ball impressively on the move. He was a bit off when throwing from a stationary platform, but his 75-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith was perfect.
RUNNING BACKS: F. The Steelers’ game plan was to shut down Carlos Hyde, and that’s what they did. Hyde gained only 43 yards on 14 carries (3.1 yards per attempt), fumbled once, and left the game to get evaluated for a head injury. Jim Tomsula didn’t let Hyde return to the game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B+. Torrey Smith was excellent. He caught a pass over the middle, broke one tackle and outran the entire Steelers defense to the end zone. He also made a tough catch jumping over a cornerback on a two-point conversion. Anquan Boldin played well and made a touchdown catch, but he also dropped a long pass when he was wide open. It’s only a matter of time before he’s the Niners’ No. 2 receiver, and Smith is the No. 1.
TIGHT ENDS: D. Vance McDonald and Blake Bell left the game due to injuries, Garrett Celek caught two passes for 10 yards and Vernon Davis caught five for 43. He also dropped a pass. All four tight ends blocked poorly, and the heavy-tight-end sets didn’t work.
OFFENSIVE LINE: F. From the left side of the offensive line to the right side, the pass protection was hideous. They couldn’t block the most basic pass-rush stunts.
DEFENSIVE LINE: F. Sacked Ben Roethlisberger zero times and gave up not one, not two, but three rushing touchdowns to 32-year-old running back DeAngelo Williams.
LINEBACKERS: F. NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite both got picked on in pass coverage, Ahmad Brooks jumped offside more than once, and Aaron Lynch generated zero pass rush. Other than that, they played well.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: F. The Steelers absolutely abused second-year cornerback Kenneth Acker. Even when he had help from a safety, Acker could not cover Antonio Brown. So the Steelers lined up Brown across from Acker as much as possible. The Niners didn’t adjust until the fourth quarter, when Tramaine Brock got a chance to cover Brown. Brown beat him deep for a gain of 56. The secondary was helpless.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D. Bradley Pinion averaged a measly 42.8 yards per punt, and DeAndrew White failed to reach the 20 yard-line during both of his kickoff returns.
COACHES: F. On offense, the Niners had two 17-play drives and managed to score only three points on them. Offensive coordinator Geep Chryst can’t allow that to happen. On defense, the Steelers completely dismantled defensive coordinator Eric Magnini’s game plan. When Vic Fangio was the Niners’ defensive coordinator, he never got dismantled like Mangini did on Sunday.