SAN FRANCISCO – My grades for the 49ers after their 34-28 win over the Packers:
KAEPERNICK: A. He outplayed Aaron Rodgers and shredded the Packers’ defense despite having no rushing threat, one wide receiver and one tight end. Kaepernick may be the only quarterback in the NFL who can pull that off. Here’s his final stat line: 29-of-37 for 412 yards, 3 TDs, a 129.4 passer rating, 9-for-18 on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth down.
I give him an “A” and not an “A+” because he had to burn three timeouts to avoid delay of game penalties. He still struggles getting the play off before the clock runs down. That’s going to be a factor next week in Seattle.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B. The Packers handled the 49ers’ read-option run game, but they forgot to cover Anquan Boldin. That was a bad strategy. He caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers took advantage of the fact the Packers were missing their starting Nickelback, Casey Hayward. That was a good strategy.
Kyle Williams caught three passes for 32 yards. He was nothing special. No other wide receivers caught a pass. I’d imagine the Seahawks will try to take away Boldin next week and force Kaepernick to throw to someone else.
RUNNING BACKS: C. Frank Gore had a bad game, 21 carries for 44 yards and a touchdown, but he didn’t have any holes to run through. Neither did Kendall Hunter. He had one 24-yard run in the fourth quarter, but besides that he had just 2 yards on five carries. He looks like he’s got miles to go before he’s as explosive as he was before he tore his Achilles’ last November.
TIGHT ENDS: B+. Vernon Davis had a great game, six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Vance McDonald caught one pass and dropped one.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C. They were terrific in pass protection, Kaepernick had all the time he needed when he dropped back to pass. Joe Staley did a great job against Clay Matthews. But the offensive line was horrendous at run blocking. They could not move the Packers’ massive D-linemen, especially Johnny Jolly, who clogged the middle.
Iupati usually is the 49ers’ best run-blocker, but he struggled today. He was a waist-bender, meaning he played too top heavy and as a result had no leverage.
Jonathan Goodwin was flagged for two false start penalties.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-. Justin Smith was dominant against the run. The Packers absolutely could not run the ball when he was in the game. But when Justin Smith took a breather for a few plays and Glenn Dorsey replaced him, the Packers ran it right down the 49ers’ throats. Justin Smith is just as important to this team as Kaepernick.
Aldon Smith played well against David Bakhtiari, recorded 1.5 sacks. Ray McDonald also had half of a sack.
LINEBACKERS: B. NaVorro Bowman had an outstanding game, making eight tackles and knocking a way a third-down pass in the fourth quarter. He also forced Eddie Lacy to fumble near the Packers’ end zone, and that was the difference in the game. Willis made five tackles, but he didn’t play as much as he normally does because the 49ers’ were using a lot of their Dime defense. Ahmad Brooks made just one tackle, but he batted down a pass as well.
SECONDARY: C. Eric Reid played well despite missing a couple of tackles. He intercepted a pass and made a few big hits. And Donte Whitner didn’t give up any touchdowns, which is a bonus.
The cornerbacks played poorly, though. Carlos Rogers couldn’t cover Randall Cobb (7 catches, 108 yards and 1 TD) and neither Tarell Brown nor Nnamdi Asomugha could cover Jordy Nelson (7 catches, 130 yards and 1 TD). This is going to be an issue all season.
Overall, the defense did not tackle well, but that’s to be expected Week 1. These players logged very few minutes in the preseason.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-. Phil Dawson missed a 48-yard field goal, but that was this group’s only major blunder. C.J. Spillman made a spectacular play on kickoff coverage, tackling Jeremy Ross at the Packers’ nine –yard line.
COACHING: A-. Greg Roman could not figure out a way to get the 49ers’ running game going. That’s a first. Luckily, Kaepernick bailed him out.
The 49ers finally played well in the red zone, scoring touchdowns in three-of-five trips. Give Roman and red-zone coordinator Geep Chryst credit.
But this group, particularly Roman, still needs to improve on getting the plays called quicker. Part of that is on the quarterback, but part of that is on the play caller, too. After the game, Harbaugh put it all on the coaches, saying “that was us not getting the plays in on time.” Roman needs to fix this problem by next week.