49ers Week 8 grades: Defense and special teams

Here are the grades for the 49ers defense from their 24-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Defensive line: A. They completely shut down the Cardinals run game, holding it to 7 total yards. The defensive line often tackled running back LaRod Stephens-Howling five yards behind the line of scrimmage. Justin Smith got consistent pressure on a quarterback for the first time this season.

Linebackers: A. The outside linebackers had dominant games. Aldon Smith had 2 sacks and Ahmad Brooks had 1. Brooks also had a terrific tackle for a loss on a screen pass. The Cardinals barely ran the ball, so Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman couldn’t make a lot of tackle, but Bowman did record a sack.

Secondary: A. The safeties were dominant. Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner blasted every receiver who got the ball over the middle. Chris Culliver broke up at least three passes, including one deep pass in the end zone intended for Michael Floyd in the fourth quarter. As I’ve said all year, Culliver is the best cornerback on the 49ers.

Special teams: A. David Akers made the one field goal he attempted, Andy Lee pinned the Cardinals inside their 20 yard line three times, Ted Ginn Jr. gained 90 yards on 6 returns and the kick coverage team completely bottled up Patrick Peterson, who is one of the best punt returners in the NFL.

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