SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers’ 19-17 win over the Seahawks.
KAEPERNICK: D+. He was pretty good in the first half and awful for most of the second half until his 8-yard run to seal the win on third-and-7 at the end of the fourth quarter. That’s why I give him the “plus.” He missed wide open receivers all game and completed just 52 percent of his passes. His interception was an underthrown deep pass to Michael Crabtree.
RUNNING BACKS: A. The Seahawks held Frank Gore more or less in check for most of the game – no touchdowns, only one run longer than 10 yards until the 49ers’ final drive. And then Gore broke one of the best runs of his career. He ran a weak-side lead, Vance McDonald made a good block, Gore didn’t get touched running through the line, All-Pro Free safety Earl Thomas barreled down on Gore to tackle him before the first down marker and Gore completely juked him. It was one of the best jukes of Gore’s career. He didn’t have the speed to run all the way into the end zone, but he slid down in bounds, something Kaepernick forgot to do in New Orleans a few weeks ago. Kendall Hunter also had a pretty good game – 16 yards and one first down on four carries. And Bruce Miller had a good game blocking, running, catching passes and tackling after Kaepernick’s interception.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C. Boldin played well – 6 catches for 93 yards, including a 27-yard catch over Richard Sherman. Michael Crabtree caught four passes for 40 yards and dropped two – so-so game, but his presence on the field opened up opportunities for Boldin. Mario Manningham was awful. Kaepernick threw two passes to him in the first half and Manningham caught neither. The Seahawks single-covered Manningham the rest of the game and the 49ers still didn’t trust him enough to throw him the ball.
TIGHT ENDS: C. Vernon Davis caught just 3 passes for 21 yards, but one catch was a touchdown. The 49ers do not win this game if he doesn’t catch that touchdown. Kaepernick never threw a pass to Vance McDonald, but McDonald made a key block on Gore’s 51-yard run.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B. Even though the 49ers weren’t gaining a ton of yards on the ground, they were able to stick with the running game (33 rushes) without their No.1 run blocker – Mike Iupati. That’s impressive against Seattle’s terrific defense. The 49ers’ offensive gave up two sacks, but Kaepernick had time to throw most of the game.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. They successfully muted Marshawn Lynch (72 yards on 20 carries), and got a ton of pressure on Russell Wilson. Wilson had to quickly pull the ball down or slide in the pocket more than just a few times.
LINEBACKERS: A-. This group did a good job against the Seahawks’ run game, too. NaVorro Bowman had 9 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. The only knock against this group is Patrick Willis gave up a couple of long passes to rookie tight end Luke Willson. Collectively, the 49ers’ linebackers gave Russell Wilson nowhere to run – he ran just once for two yards.
SECONDARY: C. The 49ers’ front-seven stopped the run and pressured the quarterback, so the 49ers’ defensive backs’ jobs were pretty easy. Still, they played soft coverage most of the game and gave up and some key third-down conversions to allow the Seahawks back in the game. They left Golden Tate wide open on a third-and-five at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Wilson simply bounced the throw short. Carlos Rogers had 8 tackles but he missed two, and each missed tackle resulted in a Seahawks’ touchdown. Eric Wright ended the game with an interception on a Hail Mary.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Kassim Osgood blocked a punt which led to a 49ers’ field goal and that was the difference in the game. Phil Dawson was perfect – 4-for-4 on field goals. Bubba Ventrone made an excellent tackle on Golden Tate at the Seahawks’ 15 on their final kickoff. I give this group a B instead of an A for two reasons: One, NaVorro Bowman was flagged 15 yards for unnecessary roughness after a punt, and the 49ers gave up a 38-yard punt return to Golden Tate in the middle of the fourth quarter. That gave the Seahawks the ball down 2 at the 49ers’ 27 yard line. The 49ers’ run defense bailed out the team after that, holding Lynch to a two-yard run and no-yard run inside the 49ers’ 20 yard line, and forcing the Seahawks to punt.
COACHING: B+. Give the 49ers credit for sticking with the running game all afternoon even though it wasn’t producing big “chunks” of yardage. They finally got the chunk they needed, on a simple weak-side lead run to Gore at the end of the game. 51yards. See you later. Kaepernick put the nail in the coffin on a quarterback sweep on third down – the same play Alex Smith ran for a touchdown against the Saints in the playoffs two seasons ago. Another good call by the 49ers. But, the offense scored just one touchdown and just three points in the second half – peanuts. And a big reason the 49ers were able to score that many points is the Seahawks committed 9 penalties, which kept extending the 49ers’ drives.