49ers 35, Rams 11: Grades

ST. LOUIS – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 35-11 win over the Rams.

KAEPERNICK: B+. He played very well – 115.7 passer rating – even though he rarely went through his progessions.  He didn’t have to – in this game his first read usually was open. This season if his first read isn’t open, he scrambles. On one play in the fourth quarter Kaepernick started scrambling to his right as Vernon Davis was breaking open down field. Kaepernick never looked at him. Instead, Kaepernick gained four yards scrambling. General Manager Trent Baalke jumped out of his seat in the press box and yelled, “Throw the ball!” in front of everyone.

WIDE RECEIVERS: B-. Anquan Boldin had a terrific game – five catches for 90 yards and a key touchdown, the 49ers’ first touchdown of the game. The only other receiver who caught a pass was Jon Baldwin – he caught two. I’d be surprised if Baldwin isn’t the 49ers’ starting split end the rest of the season.

RUNNING BACKS: A. Gore had his best game in years – 20 carries for 153 yards, a touchdown and a fumble. He ran old-school runs out of a conventional I-formation backfield with Kaepernick under center. Clearly, he’s more comfortable running when Kaepernick is under center. Gore still has terrific timing on those runs and timing is everything. Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon each scored a touchdown in garbage time.

TIGHT ENDS: C+. Vernon Davis wasn’t running full speed but he caught a touchdown pass in the red zone. Vance McDonald caught one pass for nine yards.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A. They dominated the Rams’ defensive line. The 49ers’ O-line created huge lanes for Gore, especially on off-tackle power runs. By the time the pulling guard made his block, Gore had an open lane to the secondary.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A. They immediately erased Daryl Richardson and the Rams’ running game. Ahmad Brooks played Aldon Smith’s position on passing downs and Brooks was dominant, finishing the game with 1.5 sacks. Glenn Dorsey also had four tackles and a sack.

LINEBACKERS: A. NaVorro Bowman was the 49ers’ best run stopper and pass rusher tonight. He had two sacks and six tackles.

SECONDARY: A. Tramaine Brock and Tarell Brown gave up catches in the first half but played well in the second half. Carlos Rogers played very well against the Rams’ quick slot receiver, Tavon Austin. In the second quarter Donte Whitner intercepted a pass in the end zone, one of the most important plays in the game. The 49ers were winning 7-3 when he picked off that pass. If he hadn’t pick it off, the Rams could have kicked a field goal on the next play and made it a one-point game.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B. They didn’t let Tavon Austin go anywhere on punt returns. That’s the good. Here’s the not-so-good – Phil Dawson missed both field goals he attempted.

COACHING: A. The offense started the game in the Pistol which didn’t work – big surprise – but they adjusted. Give the 49ers credit for that. Just like last Sunday against the Colts, power off-tackle runs were working. Unlike last Sunday, Greg Roman called those off-tackle power runs more than a couple of times. Smart. It was clear the 49ers’ offensive line was manhandling the Rams’ defensive line on power running plays and the 49ers could win the game running the same few plays.

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