These are the grades for the 49ers’ 33-21 loss to the Cardinals.
QUARTERBACK: D. Blaine Gabbert showed none of the confidence he played with last week against the Cowboys. He somehow managed to average more yards per rush (7.0) than yards per pass (5.2), which has to be an NFL first. He also somehow managed to lead the offense to 21 points despite committing three turnovers. His most egregious turnover was his second interception, when he double-patted the ball while staring down his intended receiver, Jeremy Kerley, which allowed Cardinals cornerback Marcus Cooper to break on the pass before it even left Gabbert’s hand.
RUNNING BACKS: F. The Niners’ best running back was their quarterback, who rushed for 70 yards on 10 carries. Carlos Hyde, the starting tailback, rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries. He is averaging only 4.0 yards per carry through five games.
WIDE RECEIVERS: D. Jeremy Kerley, maybe be the best player on the team, caught 8 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown. The second-leading receiver, Quinton Patton, caught two passes for 16 yards. And Torrey Smith, supposedly the team’s No. 1 receiver, caught zero passes, although Gabbert over threw him deep down the field for the second game in a row.
TIGHT ENDS: D. Garrett Celek caught just one pass for four yards, although he was open on the first play of the game and Gabbert overthrew him. Do you sense a theme?
OFFENSIVE LINE: D. Gave up 7 sacks and a safety while primarily playing from open formations (no tight ends). The coaching staff could have helped the line by using more than just five blockers on passing downs. More on the coaches below.
DEFENSIVE LINE: F. Gave up 174 rushing yards and recorded zero sacks. Trent Baalke officially assembled one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL.
LINEBACKERS: F. To tackle successfully, you have to strike through and beyond the ball carrier. You can’t just lunge and try to tackle him where he is, although that’s what the Niners’ linebackers try to do every week. Shameful.
SECONDARY: C. Gave up two touchdown passes to Drew Stanton, the Cardinals’ backup quarterback.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F. Kick returner Chris Davis gave away the game when he fumbled the kickoff to start the third quarter.
COACHES: D. The 49ers’ players beat themselves by committing 14 FIPS (fumbles, interceptions, penalties and sacks). But the coaching staff could have put the players in better positions to succeed. Here’s what I mean:
Chip Kelly knows the Cardinals’ defense likes to blitz on third down. So why not call a play with more secure protection to pick up the pressure so Gabbert can make a legitimate throw to guys beyond the chains?
On one third-and-long play, Kelly called a five-man protection and Gabbert felt pressure right away. So he threw a quick one-yard pass to Carlos Hyde while the other receivers still were running and had yet to reach the chains for the first down.
Kelly played right into the Cardinals’ hands.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.