49ers divisional playoff grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers massacred the Packers 45-31 on Saturday night. Here is the grade for the 49ers defense and special teams.

Defensive line: B+. Justin Smith played 53 snaps, 91 percent of the defensive snaps. That alone is impressive. He couldn’t use his injured left arm, but the Packers still double teamed him, and he was disruptive bull rushing. And he was effective against the run, finishing the game with five tackles. I can’t give this group an ‘A’ because it did not get much pressure on Rodgers and it gave up 6.5 yards per carry.

Linebackers: B+. I downgrade the linebackers for the same reason I downgrade the defensive limeman – subpar run defense and pass rush. But NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith each covered very well. Bowman knocked away two passes. And Patrick Willis was the best rusher on the night. He was the one 49er Aaron Rodgers couldn’t run away from.

Secondary: B+. Tarell Brown was dominant. He gave up just two catches for 16 yards according to Pro Football Focus. He also intercepted Aaron Rodgers in the first half.

Carlos Rogers gave up four catches in five targets, but none of those completions were consequential.

Chris Culliver gave up five catches in six targets for 84 yards. He was hindered by leg cramps.

Donte Whitner gave up two touchdowns. He’s been a liability in the red zone.

Dashon Goldson played very well. Aaron Rodgers avoided throwing his way the entire game.

Special teams: A. C.J. Spillman recovered the key fumble early in the game, the one that gave the 49ers all of the momentum and touchdown a few plays later. David Akers made a field goal. The 49ers special teams hasn’t played this well since Blake Costanzo was on the team.

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