49ers Week 14 grades: Defense and special teams

SAN FRANCISCO – The 49ers beat the Dolphins 27-13. Here are the grades for the 49ers defense and special teams.

unable to get the football to the best tight end in the NFL. Not good.

Defensive line: B. Justin Smith had five tackles, a QB hit and a leaping pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. He’s getting better as the season moves forward. Ray McDonald got pressure on Tannehill a few times as well.

Linebackers: B+. Aldon Smith should be an MVP candidate. He’s been absolutely unstoppable the last month. Today, he had two sacks, two QB hits and two tackles for losses. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman both had six solo tackles – pedestrian numbers by their standard. Ahmad Brooks had three tackles, one for a loss.

Secondary: B. Dashon Goldson missed a few tackles. Donte Whitner was beaten for a TD reception. Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown were each beaten a few times, too. Chris Culliver played an exceptional game, knocking away three passes in single coverage. After the game, Whitner called Culliver a top cornerback in the league.

Special teams: B. David Akers made two short field goal attempts, which was encouraging for the 49ers. LaMichael James averaged 26.3 yards per kick return and took Ted Ginn Jr.’s kick returning job. The punt coverage team recovered a fumble that was served to them on a platter, but the kick coverage team allowed a 56-yard return.

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