The 49ers dismissed the Rams 31-17 in St. Louis Monday night. Here are the 49ers’ grades.
KAEPERNICK: A. His best game this season. The Rams stopped the 49ers’ run game and forced Kaepernick to win with his arm. He did. His deep 80-yard touchdown pass before halftime hit Brandon Lloyd in stride. On the opening drive of the second half, Kaepernick converted a third-and-12, anticipated an opening downfield and fired a 16-yard pass to Boldin before he made his break. Three plays later, Kaepernick rolled to his left and flicked the ball 25 yards off his back foot to Boldin in the back of the end zone. That was the game-winning touchdown. Only Kaepernick makes that play.
RUNNING BACKS: C-. Didn’t have many holes to run through. The Rams had six tackles for losses. Frank Gore had 38 rushing yards on 16 carries, although he had a 7 yard run, a 6 yard run and a 9 yard run on the 49ers’ touchdown drive to start the second half. Neither Gore nor Hyde pushed the pile and picked up a first down on third or fourth and short. Colin Kaepernick was the 49ers’ best short-yardage back. He picked up three yards on a quarterback sneak on fourth and 1 in the first quarter.
WIDE RECEIVERS: A. Whenever the Rams’ defense played zone coverage it seemed Boldin caught a pass right in the middle of the field for 9, 10 yards. He was just outstanding. Brandon Lloyd ran a perfect double-move on his 80-yard touchdown before halftime, got Janoris Jenkins to bite even though there were just 14 seconds left. Jenkins could have conceded the short stuff and the 49ers probably wouldn’t have scored on their final drive before halftime. Lloyd made Jenkins look like a chump. Michael Crabtree made rookie E.J. Gaines look like a chump on Crabtree’s 32-yard touchdown catch. He ran a triple move – to the post, to the corner, back to the post. Gaines spun around like a dreidel.
TIGHT ENDS: F. Vance McDonald was miserable, fumbling the one pass he caught. Somehow, Vernon Davis was worse. He committed a false start penalty, dropped two passes and batted away what would have been a touchdown pass to Vance McDonald, who was open. Davis seemed out of it.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-. Could not move the Rams’ defensive line in the run game, couldn’t move them before or after Mike Iupati left with a concussion. But the 49ers won the game passing the ball, and the offensive line gave up no sacks.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Shut down the Rams’ starting running back, Zac Stacy. Held him to 17 yards on 8 carries. Tre Mason gained 40 yards on 5 carries. He was the Rams’ best running back, but they didn’t stick with him.
LINEBACKERS: A-. Ahmad Brooks committed an illegal hands to the face penalty that negated a Dan Skuta sack on the Rams’ first drive. But Brooks also had two sacks and two quarterback hits. Skuta had two sacks, one quarterback hit and a tackle for a loss. They were everywhere. Maybe Skuta should play more snaps with the Nickel defense on passing downs. Aaron Lynch didn’t do much in this game. Patrick Willis left with a toe injury. Chris Borland replaced him and made two tackles.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: A. Antoine Bethea was terrific. He had a team-high seven tackles and one sack. Perrish Cox was very good. He gave up a 42-yard catch to Jared Cook on third-and-five early in the game, but Cox broke up two passes and played well at Nickel back after Jimmie Ward left with a thigh injury. Dontae Johnson ended the game with a pick six.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Jimmie Ward blocked a punt, and Andy Lee pinned the Rams inside their 20 yard line four times.
COACHES: A. Vic Fangio overwhelmed the Rams’ inexperienced quarterback in the second half. Early in the game, Jon Gruden compared Austin Davis to Drew Brees. In the second half, Davis looked like Blaine Gabbert. Fangio figured him out. On offense, Greg Roman exploited the Rams’ cornerbacks. We learned last year they can’t cover double moves. Michael Crabtree used a double move to catch a long pass against them last season at Candlestick. Jeff Fisher didn’t correct the issue and Roman made the Rams pay.