The Seattle Seahawks blew out the 49ers 43-16 on Sunday. Here are the 49ers grades.
NICK MULLENS: B-MINUS. The kid played better against the Seahawks in Seattle than any 49ers quarterback I can remember. Mullens passed for 414 yards. Colin Kaepernick, for example, never passed for more than 244 yards in Seattle. Mullens showed toughness, courage, accuracy and good decision-making, although he threw a pick-six in the red zone. That was a bad decision. Still, he firmly established himself as the second-best quarterback on the 49ers, better than C.J. Beathard. Had Jimmy Garoppolo passed for all those yards in Seattle without both of his starting wide receivers, people would have called him the greatest quarterback of all time.
RUNNING BACKS: C-PLUS. Matt Breida tweaked his injured ankle during warmups and played poorly. He rushed five times for just six yards. His backup, Jeffrey Wilson, played better. He ran extremely hard, averaged four yards per carry and gained 134 yards from scrimmage. Wilson has both speed and power, as opposed to Breida, who has speed but no power. Wilson reminds me of Chris Carson, the Seahawks starting running back. Wilson should have a future in the NFL, unless he keeps fumbling. He fumbled once in the red zone Sunday.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B-PLUS. Both Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon missed the game, and both of their backups played well. Dante Pettis caught a 75-yard touchdown pass during garbage time (read: the entire second half) and finished with five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Kendrick Bourne finished with six catches for 60 yards and no touchdowns. The rest of the receivers did hardly anything.
TIGHT ENDS: B. George Kittle caught six passes for 70 yards but didn’t score a touchdown. He is the 49ers best receiver and the 49ers can’t get him the ball in the end zone. He has only five touchdowns in his career. No other tight end caught a pass Sunday. The 49ers don’t have a worthwhile No. 2 tight end. If only they had kept Vance McDonald instead of trading him to the Pittsburgh Steelers and keeping Garrett Celek. McDonald has caught 33 passes for 444 yards and three touchdowns for the Steelers this season. Celek has caught three passes for 29 yards and one touchdown for the 49ers. Oops.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: F. They gave up three sacks and a whopping 15 quarterback hits, so the pass-blocking stunk. And the run-blocking did, too. The 49ers gained just 2.9 yards per carry. All five of the offensive linemen struggled big time, especially left guard Laken Tomlinson. He committed two false starts and gave up all three of the 49ers sacks. He’s not good. But, the 49ers probably won’t replace him any time soon, because they gave him a three-year, $16.5 million contract extension through 2021. Once again, the 49ers failed to properly assess one of their players.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: D. The 49ers couldn’t stop the run or the pass. The Seahawks averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and Russell Wilson’s quarterback rating was 140.9. Big, big numbers. DeForest Buckner played well – he recorded two sacks – but the unit as a whole made no impact.
LINEBACKERS: F. None of them broke up a pass or forced a turnover or recorded a tackle for a loss. The 49ers linebackers just made some downfield tackles after long runs.
SAFETIES: D. Jaquiski Tartt left another game with a stinger – he can’t stay healthy. The 49ers should have kept Eric Reid. The other safety, Antone Exum Jr., committed a 43-yard pass interference penalty.
CORNERBACKS: F. Ahkello Witherspoon committed his weekly pass-interference penalty and gave up a 45-yard catch because he forgot to cover his zone. K’Waun Williams gave up two touchdown catches. And Richard Sherman gave up one. Teams have picked on Sherman the past two games. He does not deserve to go to the Pro Bowl. The 49ers need three new corners.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D. The kickoff-coverage unit gave up an 85-yard kickoff return to start the second half. And Richie James fumbled a punt which the Seahawks recovered. But, James also returned a kickoff for 42 yards, and that play gave the 49ers life in the third quarter. James is a decent kickoff returner, but a horrible punt returner. Pettis should return the punts.
COACHES: F-MINUS-MINUS. Pete Carroll may have put Robert Saleh of business. Saleh runs Carroll’s defense, and Carroll knows exactly how to attack it because Carroll created it. Saleh merely imitates it. The imitator never catches the innovator, because the innovator constantly creates new wrinkles while the imitator still tries to master the basics. Fire Robert Saleh. Fire Kyle Shanahan, too. He challenged his players to play hard after the Bye week and they quit on him. Got blown out two weeks in a row. Made the same mistakes they’ve made since Shanahan became the coach almost two years ago. Committed 13 penalties, converted only one-of-four trips to the red zone, gave the ball away three times, took the ball away zero times and played soft, because that’s what Shanahan’s 49ers are. Soft. Jimmy Garoppolo can’t fix this mess.