Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 31-24 preseason win over the Broncos.
QUARTERBACKS: B. Blaine Gabbert gets a ‘C.’ He made four good throws and five bad ones, including a five-yard pass on third-and-7, a short pass in the flat that almost hit Vance McDonald in the ankle, a short pass in the flat that led Carlos Hyde too far toward the sideline and a long pass down the middle of the field that sailed high and away from Vance McDonald who was open. On the bright side, Gabbert led a scoring drive against the Broncos’ second-string defense. Kaepernick will have to top that to win the job. He’s still alive.
The backups each get an “A.” Driskel completed 6-of-7 passes and made two beautiful throws – a 25-yarder to Bryce Treggs while taking a big hit in the pocket and a 40-yarder to Devon Cajuste. Christian Ponder completed 7-of-8 passes, ran for a touchdown and threw a 30-yard TD pass to Dres Anderson. I still don’t think he’ll make the roster. He has no future. Driskel does.
RUNNING BACKS: D+. Carlos Hyde broke a 20-yard run and scored a touchdown. He was good. The rest of the running backs were not. Mike Davis fumbled twice and DuJuan Harris fumbled once at the goal line. In two preseason games, the Niners’ running backs have fumbled a whopping five times, which could be a byproduct of Chip Kelly’s frenetic high-paced offense. Davis doesn’t fumble often. He had fumbled just twice in his past 233 carries dating back to college, according to PFF.
WIDE RECEIVERS: D. DeAndrew White was the team’s best wide receiver. He made two catches and ran for two first downs. He absolutely should make this team. None of the other receivers caught more than one pass. Bryce Treggs tore his MCL.
TIGHT ENDS: A. Vance McDonald was the best player on the offense, catching three passes for 38 yards. Blaine Gabbert clearly loves him. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to McDonald if Kaepernick wins the starting job. They don’t seem to click.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A-. Gave up just one sack and helped the run game average 5.1 yards per carry. Andrew Tiller started at right guard and played well. Anthony Davis played with the second- and third-stringers. I downgrade this group because Marcus Martin got pushed on his rear end and should get cut immediately.
DEFENSIVE LINE: D. Struggled stopping the run without Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Glenn Dorsey. Gave up five yards per carry. Garrison Smith, an undrafted free agent, was their best player. He recorded a sack and two tackles for losses. He might make the final roster.
LINEBACKERS: B. Sacked the Broncos’ quarterbacks five times. Eli Harold looked explosive and disruptive early in the game before Tank Carradine hit him in the ribs with his helmet. Carradine also recorded a sack. Marcus Rush recorded three sacks while rushing against Broncos’ backup right tackle Kyle Roberts, a former undrafted free agent who probably won’t make an NFL roster.
At inside linebacker, Gerald Hodges gave up 19-yard touchdown run to C.J. Anderson because he in the wrong gap. Hodges frequently is in the wrong gap. The defense improves when Ray Ray Armstrong replaces him.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B. Eric Reid picked off Broncos’ starting quarterback Trevor Siemian early in the game, and Kenneth Acker picked off Paxton Lynch to seal the win in the fourth quarter. Tramaine Brock gave up a few short catches early but nothing big. Jimmie Ward was flagged for a holding penalty.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Phil Dawson made a field goal and DeAndrew White fumbled a punt. He recovered it. He seems extremely uncomfortable returning punts. The Niners don’t have a backup punt returner.