The 49ers lost 18-15 to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Here are the 49ers grades.
BEATHARD: C. He wasn’t accurate. He didn’t push the ball down the field. He held the ball too long in the pocket. And he didn’t make plays on third down or in the red zone. But, he didn’t turn the ball over, either, and that’s progress for Beathard. He didn’t lose the game all by himself. Unfortunately for the 49ers, he couldn’t win it, either. He is not an NFL starting quarterback. Kyle Shanahan needs to stop comparing Beathard to Kirk Cousins. Beathard is no Cousins. Shanahan must get real. Must sign Colin Kaepernick Monday. He would give the 49ers the best chance to win.
RUNNING BACKS: F-plus. Matt Breida averaged 2.6 yards per carry, Alfred Morris had just one good run and Kyle Juszczyk was a complete afterthought in the passing game. The only running back who produced was Raheem Mostert, but he carried the ball only twice. He is averaging 7.8 yards per carry the past three games. Someone should tell Shanahan.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C-plus. Marquise Goodwin caught just one pass, but it was a 55-yard touchdown catch. Kendrick Bourne started in place of the injured Pierre Garcon, and caught seven passes on 10 targets for 71 yards. Bourne is better than Garcon. The 49ers should bench Garcon if they can’t trade him. Trent Taylor made no impact yet again.
TIGHT ENDS: C. George Kittle had another solid game – five catches, 57 receiving yards. He also committed a pre-snap penalty. Garrett Celek didn’t receive any targets.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: F. They gave up four sacks and eight quarterback hits. The Cardinals defensive line pushed them around.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: B. Ronald Blair, Arik Armstead, Cassius Marsh and DeForest Buckner all played well and recorded impressive stats. But, they generated zero pass rush when the 49ers needed it in the fourth quarter. Solomon Thomas may or may not have played. I never notice him on the field.
LINEBACKERS: B. Reuben Foster pulled his hamstring and the 49ers didn’t miss him. He makes zero impact weekly. Fred Warner recovered a fumble, something Foster hasn’t done since high school.
SAFETIES: C. Jimmie Ward upgraded the free-safety spot by replacing the injured Adrian Colbert. Ward played well. So did strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who intercepted a pass. But, Tartt injured his shoulder, and backup Antone Exum Jr. suffered a concussion. So, third-string safety Tyvis Powell had to play, and the Cardinals exposed him.
CORNERBACKS: C. Ahkello Witherspoon played his best game of the season. Richard Sherman did not. He gave up a 19-yard catch to Larry Fitzgerald during the Cardinals’ game-winning drive.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-minus. Robbie Gould made both of his field goal attempts. But, Bradley Pinion shanked his last punt. It travelled only 39 yards, and the Cardinals got the ball at their 27 to start their final drive. And Dante Pettis fumbled his second punt of the season.
COACHES: F. They absolutely needed to win this game, and almost did. Both Shanahan and Robert Saleh coached well the first three quarters, and had a 12-point lead during the fourth quarter. But, once again, they couldn’t finish the game. Once again, they found a way to lose to the Cardinals, who might finish the season with a 2-14 record. Once again, Shanahan’s running game fell apart in the fourth quarter when he needed to kill the clock, just like in the Super Bowl. Once again, Robert Saleh lost his nerve and stopped calling blitzes with the game on the line. Shameful coaching. Shanahan officially is on the hot seat. Byron Freaking Leftwich outcoached him, and Leftwich never had coached a game as an offensive coordinator before this one. Shanahan must beat the tanking Raiders Thursday night, or Jed York should start looking for Shanahan’s replacement. York could start by calling David Shaw or Josh McDaniels. One of them might want to coach Jimmy Garoppolo.