SAN FRANCISCO – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 27-7 Week 3 loss to the Colts.
KAEPERNICK: D-. His second horrendous game in a row. He completed just 13-of-27 passes for 150 yards. He also threw an interception and fumbled. Kaepernick is the kind of quarterback who wants to feed the ball to the receivers he trusts but he trusts just one receiver – Anquan Boldin. Kaepernick hardly looks for other receivers it seems because he doesn’t trust they’ll get open or catch the ball. So, it’s easy to stop Kaepernick, especially when Vernon Davis doesn’t play. Whatever you do, don’t let Boldin beat you.
WIDE RECEIVERS: F. Boldin had a decent game, catching five passes for 67 yards. None of the other receivers did anything. Kyle Williams had two catches for 12 yards and he is apparently the 49ers’ second-best receiver. If the 49ers wanted to lean so heavily on Williams in the passing game they should have played him in the preseason and established some go-to plays for him.
TIGHT ENDS: F. Vernon Davis didn’t play. Garrett Celek dropped a deep pass when they game was in doubt and caught a deep pass in garbage time. Vance McDonald caught one pass for six yards.
RUNNING BACKS: C. Kendall Hunter had a nice 13-yard touchdown run and then he disappeared from the game. Frank Gore rushed 6 times for 67 yards in the first quarter and then gained 15 yards on 5 carries the rest of the game. You wonder if he’s at the point in his career when he can only get his legs going for a quarter at a time against a bad defense. Do you expect him to have a good game against the Rams just four days from now?
OFFENSIVE LINE: A. This group created huge holes in the running game especially during the first quarter. They also gave Kaepernick time to pass but no one was open so Kaepernick held the ball too long and took three sacks.
DEFENSIVE LINE: C+. Aldon Smith had five tackles including one for a loss but he was a non-factor as a pass rusher. The Colts’ left tackle Anthony Costanzo handled him on passing downs. Justin Smith and Ahmad Brooks got in Luck’s face a couple of times but only Justin Smith sacked him. The Nickel front continued to struggle against the run.
LINEBACKERS: C+. Along with the defensive line, the 49ers’ linebackers gave up 4.6 yards per carry on 39 carries. They could not stop the run, particularly Ahmad Bradshaw in the fourth quarter when the Colts drove down the field and ran out the clock. On top of that, Patrick Willis injured his groin. Who knows if he can play in St. Louis on Thursday?
SECONDARY: C. Tarell Brown struggled. He got beat repeatedly by Darrius Heyward-Bey and was flagged twice for defensive pass interference. Eric Reid missed at least two tackles and Donte Whitner was flagged 15 yards for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Nnamdi Asomugha left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. Carlos Rogers gave up key drive-extending catches to Reggie Wayne in the second half.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-. Kyle Williams made two fair catches inside the 49ers’ 10 yard line and Kendall Hunter got tackled at the 49ers’ 13 yard line on a kick return and as a result, the 49ers’ offense started at least 4 drives inside their 15-yard line.
COACHING: F. Frank Gore ran effectively when Kaepernick was under center in the first quarter, but then Greg Roman abandoned those plays and went back to the Pistol. The pistol suits Kaepernick but apparently it does not suit the rest of this offense, especially Gore. Gore looks much more comfortable running the 49ers’ old-style plays involving power schemes and off-tackle weak-side plays.
The 49ers’ lack of another receiving threat opposite Boldin partly is the fault of the coaches. During the preseason they hardly played Marlon Moore and did not play Kyle Williams. That was the time to get those two going, not Week 3 of the regular season.
And by playing Aldon Smith, Jim Harbaugh undermined the integrity of the franchise just to beat the Colts. The 49ers still lost by 20.