These are the grades for the 49ers’ 41-23 loss to the Saints.
QUARTERBACK: B. Avoided throwing passes outside the numbers to his left – his biggest weakness – and posted a passer rating of 102.3 against a terrible defense. Threw for 398 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Also fumbled once.
RUNNING BACKS: B-. DuJuan Harris is the best running back on the team – even better than Carlos Hyde, whose hype outpaces his production and durability. Harris rushed 10 times for 59 yards, and caught five passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. He also fumbled during garbage time. Backup running back Mike Davis fumbled at the Saints’ one-yard line during the 49ers’ first series of the second half when the game was still a game. The Niners should cut Davis tomorrow.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B. Quinton Patton played his best game as a pro, catching six passes for 106 yards. Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley combined to make five catches for just 40 yards.
TIGHT ENDS: A. Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek combined to make seven catches for 160 yards and one touchdown.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+. Gave up just one sack, and the offense averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
DEFENSIVE LINE: F-. Recorded one sack and gave up 248 rushing yards on 42 carries. DeForest Buckner gave up an 11-yard gain when he misdiagnosed a run play and tried to rush the quarterback. And Quinton Dial gave up a 75-yard touchdown run when he let the Saints offensive line push him out of his assigned gap.
LINEBACKERS: F+. Nick Bellore broke up a couple of passes early. That’s the only nice thing I can say about this group.
SECONDARY: F. Tramaine Brock let a pass bounce off the back of his shoulder and into the hands of Michael Thomas for a touchdown. And Jimmie Ward gave up a 1-yard touchdown catch to Saints’ rookie wide receiver Michael Thomas despite being in press coverage. Hard to do.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Phil Dawson was the Niners’ best player, and kick returner JaCorey Shepherd was their second-best. He averaged 34.7 yards per return.
COACHES: F. Look, we know Jim O’Neil knows nothing about gap integrity. But he also knows nothing about combination coverages or how to play wide receivers short and long. Or in and out. Or two deep with man under. Or a stay concept with man over the top.
Although if you asked him if he knows those things, he probably would say, “Yeah, yeah.”
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.