49ers 10, Packers 21: Grades

SANTA CLARA – Here are the grades for the 49ers’ 21-10 preseason loss to the Packers.

QUARTERBACKS: D. Blaine Gabbert gets a “C.” He made good decisions and delivered the ball on time, but every single pass he threw was off target, even his two completions. Receivers had to bail him out with difficult catches. Gabbert has terrible footwork, which leads to an inconsistent arm slot. This is who he is.

Colin Kaepernick gets an “F.” He did not make good decisions or deliver the ball on time – he held it too long and scrambled when there was no pressure. He was the worst quarterback on the field. He seemed completely freaked. I think he’ll get one more chance to win the QB competition next week against the Chargers, but if he doesn’t win the competition I expect the 49ers will cut him before Week 1. No pressure.

RUNNING BACKS: A. Averaged five yards per carry and fumbled zero times. The running game has been consistently effective during the preseason.

UPDATE: Carlos Hyde suffered a concussion, according to the 49ers.

WIDE RECEIVERS: F+. Torrey Smith caught no passes for the third preseason game in a row. The leading receiver was DeAndrew White who made one catch for 12 yards. The best catch was by Quinton Patton, who reached behind him to snag a poorly thrown pass from Gabbert, then ran for a touchdown.

TIGHT ENDS: C. Garrett Celek led this group with two catches for 14 yards, and Bruce Miller dropped his only target. Miller is not a tight end – he’s a fullback. The Niners should trade him to a team that uses fullbacks.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A. Gave Gabbert and Kaepernick plenty of time to throw.

OVERALL FIRST-STRING OFFENSE: D. In the first half the quarterbacks averaged three yards per pass attempt and the offense held the ball for eight minutes. Eight.

DEFENSIVE LINE: C. Gave up 6.4 yards per rush to Packers’ starting tailback Eddie Lacy. The best run-defender in this group, Quinton Dial, left the game with a knee injury. Will be interesting to see if the run defense improves when Arik Armstead returns. He was not a good run defender as a rookie. Run defense could be a problem for this team.

LINEBACKERS: C. The most disruptive pass rusher was Tank Carradine. He finished the game with one sack. Ray Ray Armstrong started next to NaVorro Bowman at inside linebacker and was flagged for taunting. He got cut from the Raiders and Rams for making similar mistakes. Not a smart player.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: D. Gave up 12 passing first downs and a passer rating of 103.4. Jaquiski Tartt was the worst player in the starting secondary. He couldn’t cover Jared Cook man to man, and he was lost in deep zone coverage. He’s not a good safety. The Niners should trade him before the rest of the league figures that out.

OVERALL FIRST-STRING DEFENSE: D. Struggled getting off the field on fourth down. Green Bay finished the game 5-6 on fourth down.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Phil Dawson made his only field-goal attempt, Bradley Pinion averaged almost 46 yards per punt and Bruce Ellington pulled his hamstring during a punt return. Was only a matter of time before that happened.

This article has 63 Comments

    1. The offense was moving just fine while Blaine was playing. The only reason his passer rating wasn’t at 100.0 and his Total QBR wasn’t closer to 75.0 is becasue the swing pass he completed for a TD counts as a run (and lateral). So let’s not pretend the offense sucked with Blaine at the helm. Which brings me to this:

      THE QUARTERBACK COMPETITION THAT NEVER WAS! The fallacy of Grant’s framining of a QB competition.

      Colin Kaepernick claims that the shoulder “tightness” had been building. On Friday, 8/12 Chip Kelly said: “His (Colin’s) throwing shoulder’s, just from the accumulation of what we’ve been doing, is a little sore,” Kelly said. “So, we’re going to monitor that. Hopefully we can get him to play againt the Texans on Sunday.” Kaepernick did not throw in practice for the second consecutive day Friday, so Gabbert took all of the repetitions with the first team offense, instead of the customary 50-50 split with Kaepernick. And so you had it. The much anticipated QB competition that so many 49ers fans had been looking forward to as the highlight of training camp, abruptly ended before it even really started.

      And he we are. Despite the narrative that GRANT COHN was desperately trying to make, which was likely driven by his dislike for Blaine Gabbert, the much anticipated 49ers QB competition never materialized! It wasn’t just Blaine’s job to lose, it was more than that. Kaepernick would have had to absolutely throw down with Blaine, run the gauntlet, and outright take the job from Blaine, like an alpha male lion would overthrow the reigning alpha male and claim his pride of lioness’.

      And Blaine proved to be the dominant lion in 2015, and has only gotten stronger while leading Chip’s offense! The fact of the matter is, Grant was either conciously trying to stoke controversy where none truly existed, or Grant has a complete lack of understanding of NFL players psychology, locker room dynamics, and the relationship between coach and player. And I am not talking about tonight’s incredibly uninspiring performance!

      Contrary to the Grant Cohn’s narrative, this competition was never in question once Colin’s shoulder decided to take a vacation midway through camp.

      How did Grant frame it? “ACCURACY ISSUES COULD SLOT BLAINE GABBERT ON THE $(ERS BENCH” As if competition doesn’t matter.

      In reality, the only thing preventing Chip from making it official and naming Blaine the starting QB for week 1 last week, was the determination Chip made that he needed to keep his word. And since Chip made the decleration that Colin would get an opportunity, on the field, to compete with Blaine for a starting role, that it would be premature to name Blaine the starter, before Colin stepped into the filed and took one, season like snap.

      Here is the point, and I cannot make this point strong enough! How incredibly wrong Grant was on this subject! If the players on the 49ers roster, belived that in any way, the Chip was always leaning towards naming Colin the starting QB regardles of how well he performed in this offense. despite Chip’s words and what he was telling his team. That perhaps all Colin needed to do was simply show up for one game, and complete a couple passes, perhaps orchastrate 1 or 2 effective drives, and Chip would essentially hand Colin the job.

      The reality is, that would have been the worst thing Chip could have done in regards to his tenure as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. It would have sent exactly the wrong message to this young roster, and would have undermined Chip Kelly in the worst way possible. In terms of analogies, it would have sent the exact opposite message that the front office sent by extending Navorro Bowman’s contract way before they had to, in order to send the message that if you have a possitive attitude, dedicate yourself to this team, to your teammates, work your fanny off, show integrity and take nothing for granted that you will be rewarded accordingly.

      And when you give your word as a new HC, that every single player starts with a clean slate, a “reset button” so to speak, and that every position on this team, with the exception of those veterans who have clearly earned their stripes, will be earned FAIR & SQUARE, through leadership and hard work, not politics and favoritism!


  1. I’m really disappointed with Armstrong. Patton too, celebrating is one thing but taunting and dancing shows immaturity. I didn’t see Armstrong taunting when he got beat over the middle early in the game.

    1. Armstrong is what he is. He was a self-centered punk at Miami. He was a self-centered punk with the Raiders. He’s a self-centered punk here.

    2. I hope they tell ALL the Niners to shut up and let their play do their talking on the field. No wild dancing or finger pointing, either.

      I want the Niners to act like the old Niners, and behave like they have been in the end zone before. Maybe Jerry can give them tips on how to act with class. Ronnie should tell Ray Ray how he acted on the field, so Ray Ray will know how a Hall of Famer acts, and try to emulate him.

      1. Sebnynah,

        I think even you can agree at this point, BLAINE GABBERT is the starting QB for the 49ers at 7:20 P.M. on Monday, 9/12, vs the Los Angeles Rams, and that, barring what would have been an almost Super Human performance from Colin Kaepernick last night, Blaine has been in control of this competition for the last 10 days at least, and probably longer?

        Can we agree that if the team (and particularly the veterans like Bowman and Staley) genuinely felt that Chip was going to simply hand the starting job to Colin, despite their training camp and preseason performances, it almost certainly would have been a huge mistake on Chip’s part, and would likely have undermined Chip’s leadership in the early stages of his tenure as the 49er’s Head Coach?

        1. 49, I disagree. Chip was not going to hand the job to Kaep. He was going to have to earn it.

          Chip now saw how hard the players were going to play for Kaep, so he will never start him, especially since Gabbert does seem to be able to move the team and does not give the ball away.

          Chip was just fulfilling his promise to Kaep, and now Gabbert has won by default. Kaep is his own worst enemy, and unless he stands up and puts his hand over his heart, will never play another down in his life.

          1. That’s what I said Seb, read my post again please. I asked if it would have been a mistake for Chip to simply hand the job to Colin without Colin having earned it in the eyes of his teammates?

            You see, Grant was advocating the opposite. Grant suggested (everywhere he went, even on the radio) that all Colin had to do was show up for 1 or 2 series’, and look half way decent, and he’d win the job.

            And my point is that GRANT SEEMS TO HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL MISUNDERSTANDING when it comes to the relationship between a team full of hard working, dedicated players, and head coach. That is …….. if Chip had been willing to give his team the impression that the QB competition was, by default, Colin’s job to lose, REGARDLESS of the fact that Colin hadn’t thrown a meaningful pass in training camp or preseason in nearly 2 weeks, it would have sent the wrong message and undermined his credibility as head coach!

            Grant is on record, suggesting that Colin stood a chance of winning the quarterback competition without earning it in the eyes of his teammates.


            And I really have a problem with this narrative. Grant doesn’t think Blaine is a good QB! I get it. Grant’s got every right to feel this way about Blaine Gabbert.

            However, here is my point. When Grant shows a willingness to throw common sense out the window, in order to support his argument, and when Grant ignores a fundamental principle when it comes to the importance of head coach credibility in the eyes of his players, in order to support an argument he knows he’s losing, I’m not going to let him get away with it without having to defend his fundamentally flawed argument!

            1. Kaepernick still can win the job. As poorly as he played yesterday, Gabbert hasn’t won anything job yet. He has completed only 54 percent of his passes in the preseason. Not a high bar.

  2. Good to see you have added the bit about Gabbert’s footwork. That is a far bigger issue than the arm slot thing, as it is actually what causes him to throw with a differing motion.

    I think the grades for the WRs may be a little harsh (though only a little), as its not their fault the QBs can’t get them the ball. If that pass to Patton is on the money the grade would probably be a fair bit higher.

    Is it fair to grade the first string offense with Kaep’s drives included? If so, yeah, a D is about right.

    Most of the bigger runs in the first half came around the edge from memory, and were more a LB issue than DL. Though there were a couple of decent runs up the middle too. Outside of Tank’s pass rushing, I thought the LBs were pretty ordinary.

    Tartt gave up a lot of passes, as did Davis. Not a good night for those two. Reaser was pretty bad too. Ward was good, as was Reid. I thought Johnson did pretty well too, the long completion to Allison aside. Redmond had some positive moments too. Good to see him getting some action.

    Overall, the 1st team D gave up 7 points. Hard to see a D grade in that. They weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible either.

  3. Do you believe that the 49ers have a shot at the no. 1 overall pick in next years draft? It sure looks that way because the Browns looked better on offense with robert griffen as their QB. I know it preseason but if Robert Griffen continues to play better they could win more games than 49ers. 49ers looked like they have the worst passing offense in the NFL. QB’s are struggling and WR’s are not making plays. These are two positions that Trent Baalke continues to ignore.

  4. Agree with all of the grades Grant.

    Gabbert just flat out missed Patton, and the backups were terrible in the 3rd quarter.

    Baalke needs to try to get something for Miller. He has no role on this team.

  5. Bowman did not play so there is no way for Armstrong to start next to him and tart is way better than you are giving him credit for

      1. No one really cares whether you do or not. Prominent figures in the public however are a different story.

    1. That alone makes me really angry and I don’t want that piece of crap on the team. Kaep needs to be gone. I now can’t even root for him even if he proved to be a great QB. Your right he is an ass.

  6. I vote for trading or cutting kapernick.

    Trade Miller

    Trade or cut gabbert

    Start driskel

    Ponder as back up

    The QB position is the weakest position on the team.

  7. I thought the run game was poor after the second 49er drive until late in the third quarter. Maybe it’s just me. If I can stand it, I’ll replay that part of the game tomorrow and see what the run productivity was for that part of the game.

  8. Grant:

    “He was not a good run defender as a rookie. Run defense could be a problem for this team.”

    More of the same. They were not better last year; only Cleveland, NO, and Philly (not surprised, are you?) were worse. Philly in an awful conference ranked dead last in run defense. Go figure…

    1. Yeah. Because it’s completely different team with a different DC and everything. So it must be exactly the same as Philly last year… :eyeroll:

      But, beyond that, you’re just wrong about last year’s run defense. They were a good, but not great, run defense last year. 4.0 YPC (TIED FOR 10TH). AND the problem was in the nickle defense that gave up about 5.5 YPC while the base defense gave up about 3.4 YPC.

      The reason they had so many yards (a worthless statistic) was because teams didn’t need to pass after ripping the lousy pass defense to shreds in the first half. They had half the games won at half-time and were just grinding out the clock.

      So, please, it’s too early in the morning for the stupid, I don’t get statistics, juice to flow. Wait until the Kaepernick apologists, the same ones that dropped ‘Alexcuses’ every third post, come here to put up their ‘Alexcuses.’ That’ll at least be amusing.

      1. Go ahead, rip Kaep all you want. I think he did OK for it being his first action since last November, and his supporting cast did not shine, either.

        I concede Kaep did not take the league by storm, but this was just a small step in his rejuvenation. GB contained him in the pocket and batted down passes. Maybe they should have rolled him out where he is so much more dangerous and eliminate the batted passes because he will have open space to work with. Kaep did complete passes and did not throw the ball into the ground, so I am hopeful.

        Posters were ripping me for mentioning the first 2 passes that Gabbert missed to Hyde in the Texan game, saying it was done in a meaningless preseason game. Now the same posters are ripping Kaep for failing to gain first downs with his running. So typical, and expected.

        It really does not matter who the starting QB is. If the rest of the team plays like they did, the Niners will be hard pressed to win a game.

        1. He sucked. I know he sucked. YOu know he sucked. At this point you’re waiting for some magic to happen.

          There is no magic. He was bad from the pocket in 2013. He was bad from the pocket in 2014. He was bad from the pocket in 2015. He is bad from the pocket now.

          1. Do not force him to play from the pocket, if that is his weakness. Play to his strengths.

            Too bad his sit down will play him to the bench.

  9. I think that Kaep wanted to be traded before the season started. If the Niners release him then he can play somewhere else with a new contract. I will be sorry to see him go.

  10. I disagree with the grading of Gabbert, unless he gets a “C” for throwing the swing pass that is considered an handoff, that was ran in for a TD. Gabbert deserves a “D” at best. WRs could not get open, in which you fell to mention, do deserve their grade. Offensive line didn’t play as good in second quarter as first.

  11. Grant, you are a very smart man and I know you know that we both know, Kaep wasn’t gonna win the starting job come week one. Kaep is not ready for the sample fact that he has been back throwing for all of two weeks. He is not in ” football playing shape”. He needs a month before he is really ready. I commend Chip for handling of Kaep and would have started Gabbert in first quarter too. He has said that he would bring Kaep along slowly but did want to see him in game action. Now this is only one game,one quarter…so give Kaep a break. I don’t think the team needs or should cut Kaep off one game, one quarter.

  12. overall first string offense – D
    overall first string defense – D

    Fair grades I would say. F for Kaep is too good of a grade. Ponder’s interception looked better then anything then Kaep did.

  13. Grant, your grades may seem a tad harsh, but cannot fault your overall assessment. GB is poised to return to the playoffs, and clearly showed how to win games. McCarthy was bold, and Chip was predictable.

    I still like Kaep, but he definitely was rusty after the long layoff. Glad Chip is not panicking like the fans and writers, but he has a lot to correct. He needs to instill more discipline, and get them to stop shooting themselves in the foot. I hope he raises the roof when he addresses the team, and put the fear of God in them.

    Glad Hyde followed my advice. He started right, let the GB defense over commit, then turned left in a counter move to almost score.

    When they put Patton in motion, and scored, I felt like Chip read my posts.

  14. Haven’t seen the game yet, but it looks like CK certainly isn’t what everyone wished he would be. Not surprised, neither is Gabbert. Perhaps a game or two under CKs belt will help but was it rust or simply the same old Kap?

    1. East, I am not panicking like many fans and pundits are, but I will concede that Kaep did not shine.

      Gabbert still cannot throw an easily catchable short pass to his receiver, but despite his flaws, still managed to help score a TD. They put Patton in motion, so I will say that maybe they do read these blogs. ;p

    2. Kaep did not throw a pick, but I will let you off, and not insist you change your avatar.

      Sigh, I may have to concede, that I will be wearing a clown avatar, though.

      1. A deal’s a deal Seb. He looked pretty sub par from what I read but I’ll take my medicine for the first couple of weeks here.

    3. East, I say its rust. I think you have to take in consideration that he hasn’t really had no football activity in 10 months. He is not ready to be starter,I’ll have to give him another month to get in football condition

  15. Baalke’s incredible draft classes are really starting to show up and play well. Packers went for it on 4th down like 6 times and converted = NO respect and mostly…. NO talent. Still more question marks than positions solidified. When national writers say this is the least talented team you have to believe them now.

    1. They didn’t get the TD. So, no, they didn’t convert them all. And against a Championship offense, the first team defense (missing multiple starters) held Rodgers, an obvious future HOFer, to one score and scoreless in the first quarter. Then shut them out for the rest of the half.

      So I don’t know what universe you’re from, but I live in the one that recognizes holding Rodgers and the Packers to 17 yards in the first quarter and just 7 points in a half is a major accomplishment.

      Especially when Kaepernick couldn’t do a ****ing thing but lead the 49ers to 30 yards in three drives with multiple 3-and-outs.

  16. If anyone honestly believes that Kaepernick still has a chance of earning the starting job please allow me to be the first to welcome you to your first season of watching NFL football.


    1. Thanks for the levity CFC. I couldn’t care less about what Kaepernick’s views are toward the flag ,he has a right to his opinion but doesn’t have a right for them to be taken seriously. Perhaps he is just warming up his 12 million dollar seat on the bench after Capers so adeptly exposed his short comings, who knows!? It is rather disconcerting that the most exciting QB on the squad last night was our rookie,albeit against 2nd tier talent and the little glimmer of hope that some fans began to feel about our team were diminished by a long and dreary game that reminded one of the previous season perhaps a bit too much. I do take solace that Chip is an inventive and decidedly present coach.Clearly he has much work to do.

  17. Just a thought, but it seemed to me that when Kap was put in the game, the offense line played worse than when, Gabbert was in, in fact the whole team seem to play worse…are they playing harder for Gabbert than Kap?

    1. 3 out of 5 weren’t with the team last season and a 4th was likely spending the majority of his time doing rehab work instead of in the locker room. Also as a competitor (with some fighting to secure positions), that’s ludicrous.

      The longer a QB holds the ball, the more push a DL gets. And the OL always looks bad when a QB bails on the pocket (even if there is no immediate threat), because the DL can see it & disengage and the OL can’t.

  18. I disagree with the F grade for the WRs. It’s not their fault who their QBs are. Torrey Smith is wasted on this team.

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