SANTA CLARA – Here are the 49ers’ grades after their 24-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
QUARTERBACKS: C. This felt like a repeat of the Week 6 game against the Redskins. C.J. Beathard checked down too quickly and missed open receivers because he was shell-shocked after weeks of taking punishment, just like Brian Hoyer against Washington. Then Jimmy Garoppolo came in and played confidently while he avoided the pass rush and made plays, just like Beathard against Washington. If Garoppolo remains the quarterback going forward – and it seems he probably will – I wonder how confidently he’ll play by the end of the season once he’s taken the beating Beathard and Hoyer took.
RUNNING BACKS: C-minus. The Seahawks game plan on defense was to shut down Carlos Hyde, and they accomplished that. They put eight defenders in the box for most of the game and held Hyde to just 2.9 yards per carry. They also held him to only three yards per catch. The Niners should have given more touches to Matt Breida, who ran once for 12 yards. He has a future on this team. Hyde probably doesn’t. I expect he will sign with the highest bidder this offseason, and I doubt the 49ers will be the highest bidder.
WIDE RECEIVERS: D-plus. Marquise Goodwin was the only receiver talented enough to exploit the Seahawks’ depleted secondary, and he missed a quarter with a foot injury. This unit needs an overhaul.
TIGHT ENDS: D-minus. Garrett Celek gained seven yards and committed a 10-yard block-in-the-back penalty. So, he was a net-negative. George Kittle caught one pass for 14 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE: F. Joe Staley seems old and slow. He gave up a sack to someone I haven’t heard of. Trent Brown missed the game with a shoulder injury, and his replacement, Erik Magnuson, gave up the hit that knocked Beathard out of the game. How would you like to play quarterback when Magnuson is playing right tackle?
DEFENSIVE LINE: C. This group held the Seahawks to just three yards per carry. But the Niners defensive line never sacked Russell Wilson, and repeatedly let him escape the pocket. DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas and the rest of the D-linemen kept diving at Wilson’s feet and creating open throwing lanes for the 5’11” quarterback. Not smart.
LINEBACKERS: C. This group shares the credit with the D-line for shutting down the Seahawks run game. But Brock Coyle gave up a rushing touchdown when he blew his assignment on a zone-read play. He was responsible for Wilson, who kept the ball and scored. Coyle ran after the running back instead. And Reuben Foster struggled as a quarterback spy. Early in the game, Foster let Wilson run right around him on third down. Foster looked like a stiff.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: C. Eric Reid picked off Wilson on the first play of the game. That was the highlight for this group. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon tried to jam Jimmy Graham near the goal line, but whiffed and gave up a touchdown catch. And Dontae Johnson committed pass interference in the end zone. This unit isn’t good.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C. Bradley Pinion punted nine times and shanked at least three.
COACHES: D. Robert Saleh got the defense to play hard, which is admirable. But he couldn’t stop Wilson in the second half. Saleh kept rushing only three or four defenders, so Wilson always had at least one lane to throw or run through. A fifth pass rusher would have clogged that lane, but Saleh rarely used a fifth rusher.
On offense, Kyle Shanahan couldn’t find anything that worked until Garoppolo came in at the end. After the game, Shanahan seemed upset. I interpret this to mean he didn’t want to play Garoppolo, but had to. And now Shanahan probably has to play Garoppolo the rest of the season. Shanahan has no choice. Fans would revolt if he went back to Beathard.
Don’t be mad, Kyle. You brought this on yourself. Had you signed a third quarterback like I said you should have, you could have kept Garoppolo on the bench where you want him. Plan ahead next time.