Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 30-27 loss to the Giants.
KAEPERNICK: B+. He was playing for his job, and he kept it. Threw the ball hard and actually seemed confident for the first time since Week 2. Didn’t make many downfield throws, but completed two terrific deep ones to Anquan Boldin.
RUNNING BACKS: A-. Carlos Hyde was outstanding. He rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries (4.4 per attempt) and a touchdown against the best run defense in the NFL. Got better as the game went on, even though he seemed to have a leg injury. Had to keep playing because Reggie Bush, the professional rehabilitator, re-injured his calf.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B+. Anquan Boldin was the 49ers’ deep threat. When the Giants started playing press-man coverage to take away the dinks and dunks, twice Boldin beat the Giants’ slot corner deep. Torrey Smith didn’t catch any deep passes, but he drew three key penalties. Bruce Ellington played well – two catches, 39 yards – but, for some reason, never got the ball after the first drive.
TIGHT ENDS: B+. Vance McDonald didn’t dive for a catchable deep pass, but was fantastic blocker. Garrett Celek made his first touchdown catch of his career.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B+. Andrew Tiller replaced Jordan Devey at right guard, and the Niners’ offensive line instantly improved. Then Devey replaced Tiller, and Carlos Hyde rushed for a long gain. The Niners have a right-guard controversy on their hands.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C+. Generated no pass rush, but limited the Giants to four yards per carry.
LINEBACKERS: F+. Aaron Lynch was disruptive most of the game, even though he didn’t sack Eli Manning. The rest of the 49ers’ linebackers were awful. Especially NaVorro Bowman. Every time the Giants needed a big play, like on their final play, it seemed they targeted Bowman in pass coverage. He gave up the game-winning touchdown catch to Giants’ tight end Larry Donnell. The Niners may have to cut Bowman at the end of the season.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B+. Kenneth Acker was flagged for pass interference on Odell Beckham the play before Bowman gave up the touchdown pass to Donnell. Other than Acker’s mistake, the Niners’ secondary played pretty well. Manning had to go conservative and throw a lot of check downs in the second half because he couldn’t tell pre-snap which way the Niners’ safeties were going to rotate.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B+. Bradley Pinion averaged 46 yards per punt, and Phil Dawson didn’t miss.
COACHES: B+. Geep Chryst did a great job re-building Kaepernick’s confidence by calling a bunch of short, easy passes, and Mangini did a great job forcing Manning to be conservative. If Bowman could defend the check-down passes, the Niners might have won.