SAN FRANCISCO — The 49ers tied the Rams 24-24. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense.
Defensive line: D. Isaac Sopoaga was a liability at nose tackle. He actually got planted on his back by Steven Jackson in the first quarter. Sopoaga was briefly benched for Ricky Jean Francois. Ray McDonald was flagged for a 15-yard helmet-to-helmet hit on Bradford. Justin Smith finished with eight tackles and two pressures. He’s still playing at a high level – especially against the run – but he is not the same great player he was last season. That’s obvious.
Linebackers: C+. Patrick Willis did not play up to his usual high standard. He only recorded seven tackles, and he was pushed back a few times by Rams running back Steven Jackson. Also, Willis was flagged for a defensive holding penalty. NaVorro Bowman played better – he had 13 tackles. Aldon Smith played very well – he had two sacks, two pressures and three tackles for losses. Ahmad Brooks batted three passes down at the line of scrimmage. The front seven collectively let the Rams rush for 159 yards on 37 carries. That’s 4.3 yards per carry. That’s not what you expect from this front seven.
Secondary: D. The safeties played pretty well – Dashon Goldson finished with seven tackles and Donte Whitner finished with five. Chris Culliver allowed his first TD reception of the season. He tried to jam Brian Quick at the line of scrimmage and slipped. Tarell Brown gave up a few receptions, but he had the strongest game of the 49ers cornerbacks. Carlos Rogers absolutely could not keep up with Danny Amendola. Amendola beat him both in the slot and deep down the sideline. Last season, Rogers was a Pro Bowler and one of the best defenders on the 49ers. Right now, he’s one of their weakest links.