SANTA CLARA – Here are the 49ers’ grades after their 44-33 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
QUARTERBACK: A-minus. Coming into the game, the best performance by a quarterback against the Jaguars defense was from Jared Goff. He completed 11 of 21 passes, threw for 124 yards and one touchdown and his quarterback rating was 86.2. Garoppolo obliterated that performance. He completed 21 of 30 passes, threw for 242 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, and his quarterback rating was 102.4. He made the Jaguars defense seem awful. He did throw an interception in the end zone – forced a pass to a receiver who was covered when other players were open. Bad decision. Garoppolo makes a couple of those per game. Still, he has the skill set every team looks for in a quarterback. The issue moving forward is how he develops and how he responds when something bad happens. Everything has gone his way this season.
RUNNING BACKS: B-plus. Kyle Juszczyk was the 49ers’ leading receiver. He caught five passes for 76 yards. Matt Breida was the 49ers’ leading rusher. He gained 74 yards on 11 carries, and made the case that he should be the starting running back next season. The current starter, Carlos Hyde, gained only 54 yards on 21 carries. It seemed the 49ers were using him as a short-yardage back in the second half. Breida outplayed him.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C. Marquise Goodwin caught only three passes for 37 yards – his worst performance in a while. Trent Taylor caught three passes for 19 yards and a touchdown. Amazing that the 49ers scored 44 points while getting such little productions from their receivers.
TIGHT ENDS: B-plus. Forget Celek Time. Today was Kittle time. The rookie tight end caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown. He has a legitimate chance to become a cornerstone of the franchise.
OFFENSIVE LINE: A. This group gave up only one sack against a defense that had recorded 51 sacks coming into the game. Unbelievable.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C-plus. The Jaguars scored two rushing touchdowns and Blake Bortles got sacked only once. But the 49ers defensive line helped limit Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette to just 48 yards on 18 carries. By negating Fournette, the 49ers forced the Jaguars to rely on Bortles, who’s unreliable. A glorified Blaine Gabbert.
LINEBACKERS: C-plus. Brock Coyle led the defense with eight tackles. Reuben Foster recorded only five and left the game with a stinger for the second game in a row. His surgically-repaired shoulder may be an issue his entire career.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: B. Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams and Ahkello Witherspoon each intercepted Bortles once, and those interceptions were essential. But, this secondary gave up 382 passing yards and two touchdown catches, and Dontae Johnson got benched for the second time in the past three games. It’s amazing the 49ers continue to win with him on the field. He’s so bad.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B. The Jaguars blocked one of Robbie Gould’s extra points, returned the ball for a safety and scored 16 unanswered. That safety gave the Jaguars momentum, but they couldn’t keep it.
COACHES: A. Robert Saleh continues to do the best he can with half a defense. The 49ers don’t have the cornerbacks or pass rushers to stop the pass consistently, even against a bad quarterback like Bortles. Saleh deserves credit. Kyle Shanahan deserves even more credit. Today was by far his best performance as a head coach. He needed to figure out how to protect Garoppolo from a ferocious pass rush. And Shanahan figured it out. He called play-action passes where Garoppolo rolled out to his left. Usually, Shanahan makes Garoppolo roll out to his right – he’s a right-handed quarterback. Rolling to the right is natural for him. The Jaguars expected him to roll that direction. They didn’t expect him to roll left. They were unprepared. Shanahan exposed them.