SAN FRANCISCO – Here are my grades for the 49ers’ 10-6 preseason loss to the Denver Broncos.
QUARTERBACKS: C. Kaepernick was perfect – four completions in four attempts for 38 passing yards. He also converted a third down with a six-yard scramble. His backups, Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien, played dreadfully. McCoy completed three-of-four passes, threw one interception and left the game with a neck stinger. Scott Tolzien completed 15-of-26 passes for just 158 yards (6.07 yards per attempt), and he threw an interception. B.J. Daniels did not play any snaps at quarterback.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-. With the exception of Anthony Davis who killed the 49ers’ first drive with a false start penalty, the 49ers’ first-string offensive line played well. They opened up huge holes in the running game, as usual. The 49ers’ second and third-string offensive lines played horribly, though. McCoy and Tolzien were under constant pressure, and Anthony Dixon had very little room to run.
RUNNING BACKS: B. LaMichael James picked up the yards his offensive line provided for him, but he did not create any yards on his own. When the 49ers’ first-team offensive line left the game, James struggled to gain positive yards. Anthony Dixon played better than James. Dixon gained 27 yards on seven carries, and he caught three passes for 18 yards.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C+. On the first drive, Anquan Boldin caught two passes and Marlon Moore made a spectacular catch. He’s leading the competition to be the 49ers’ starting split end Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. Kassim Osgood caught three passes for 34 yards. Ricardo Lockette forced two defensive pass interference penalties. Lavelle Hawkins dropped a pass and caught zero. A.J. Jenkins caught one pass but fumbled it.
TIGHT ENDS: B. Vernon Davis caught the first pass of the game, but he only played on the first drive. Garrett Celek caught zero passes, and neither did MarQueis Gray. Second-round pick Vance McDonald practically played the entire game. He was targeted a game-high eight times, caught four passes for 66 yards (16.5 yards per catch) and dropped one. When he caught the ball, he was a load to take down.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A-. The first-team defensive line held the Broncos’ top-two running backs, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, to just 18 yards on 8 carries. Demarcus Dobbs played well in particular. He had 2 tackles and a half of a sack.
LINEBACKERS: B+. Michael Wilhoite played most of the game in place of the injured Patrick Willis. Wilhoite finished with a game-high 10 tackles. Rookie inside linebacker Nick Moody had four tackles, but he left the game early with a knee injury. The outside linebackers played particularly well. Dan Skuta had two sacks. He’s probably going to make the team. Parys Haralson also had a sack.
CORNERBACKS: B. Tramaine Brock gave up a couple of completions to Peyton Manning, but Brock held his own for the most part. Perrish Cox more than held his own. He knocked away two passes as an outside cornerback. He was the 49ers’ best cornerback today. Nnamdi Asomugha played well too, though. He didn’t give up any catches, and he made a strong tackle.
SAFETIES: B+. Eric Reid didn’t start but he played most of the second half and finished the game with six tackles. He’s a hard hitter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-. Phil Dawson hooked a field goal wide left, but he made two others. Perrish Cox gained 15 yards on a punt return and 33 yards on a kick return. He’s making it tough for the 49ers to cut him. Kassim Osgood and Ricardo Lockette both made impressive tackles on kick coverage. And special-teamer specialist Bubba Ventrone pulled his hamstring.