SANTA CLARA – Here are the 49ers’ grades after their 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans.
QUARTERBACK: A. Jimmy Garoppolo may or may not be the franchise quarterback. It’s too early to tell. But he was fantastic against the Titans, and his teammates think he’s the one. They see him as a person with an aura. Believe he’s carrying the team. Garoppolo has elevated the play of everyone around him on offense. He even has boosted the defense’s morale, because he can covert 50 percent of third downs and keep the defense off the field. The players’ perception of Garoppolo’s greatness is giving them confidence in themselves. Will perception become reality?
RUNNING BACKS: D. Carlos Hyde had a rough game. He missed a block and almost got Garoppolo killed, and gained only 25 yards on 16 carries. But in fairness to Hyde, it seemed Garoppolo was tipping plays. When Kyle Shanahan called a run, Garoppolo kept his head down and didn’t survey the secondary before the snap. When Shanahan called a play-action pass or drop-back pass, Garoppolo raised his eyes to look at the defensive backs. I think the Titans noticed.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A. Marquise Goodwin had another phenomenal game – 10 catches, 114 yards, no drops. He has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL since Week 7. Rookie wide receiver Kendrick Bourne had a good game, too. He caught four passes for 85 yards, including 54-yarder in the fourth quarter.
TIGHT ENDS: A. Garrett Celek made a long catch and a touchdown catch – two things he seems to do every game. George Kittle made a long catch, too. The Titans kept forgetting to cover them.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C. Right guard Brandon Fusco gave up a sack, and left guard Laken Tomlinson tackled his own receiver during a screen pass. But the offensive line as a whole held up well against an onslaught of blitzes.
DEFENSIVE LINE: B. These guys held the Titans to 3.2 yards per carry. That’s outstanding. DeForest Buckner led the defense with nine tackles and recorded half a sack, but should have recorded 1.5. A penalty negated one.
LINEBACKERS: B-plus. Brock Coyle gave up a touchdown catch, but also forced a fumble the 49ers recovered. Rookie Reuben Foster recorded eight tackles even though he suffered a stinger and had to leave the game twice.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: D. This unit gave up a quarterback rating of 110.8. It could have been even higher had Delanie Walker not dropped a pass in the end zone during the first half.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-plus. Kicker Robbie Gould made six field goals. Enough said.
COACHES: A-minus. Both Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh had good game plans and made smart adjustments. They coached very well. Going forward, Shanahan has to fix the red-zone offense. The 49ers scored just one touchdown in four drives inside the Titans 20. That’s not good enough. And the issue isn’t just player execution. The issue is schematic, too.