49ers 20, Broncos 14: Grades

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens, left, is greeted by general manager John Lynch, right, at the end of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Santa Clara, Calif. San Francisco won the game 20-14. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe)

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers upset the Denver Broncos 20-14 Sunday afternoon. Here are the 49ers grades.

NICK MULLENS: A. Showed accuracy, arm strength, anticipation, poise under pressure and confidence with the game on the line. Showed a little bit of everything. Mullens’ quarterback rating was 102.1, and would have been 118.5 had Trent Taylor not tipped a perfect pass to Broncos safety Darian Stewart. This was an extremely impressive win for Mullens, more impressive than any win of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career. Garoppolo could not have played better. The 49ers have two young, promising quarterbacks.

RUNNING BACKS: D-MINUS. Jeff Wilson averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and fumbled for the second game in a row, but the 49ers recovered the fumble. Kyle Juszczyk caught two passes. Then, Kyle Shanahan forgot about him as usual.

WIDE RECEIVERS: D. Dante Pettis made a touchdown catch in the red zone and a 31-yard catch to help put the game away. But, he dropped two passes, too. Alligator-armed the first one and took his eyes off the second one. Still, he was the 49ers best receiver. Marquise Goodwin caught two passes for 20 yards and fumbled twice, although neither fumble counted.

TIGHT ENDS: A-PLUS. Before halftime, George Kittle almost set the NFL’s single-game record for receiving yards by a tight end. But, he didn’t break the record, because he caught no passes in the second half. Still, he’s fantastic. If only Shanahan could find Kittle in the red zone.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: F. The 49ers rushed for just 2.8 yards per carry, and Nick Mullens got sacked three times and hit five times. Rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey gave up one of the sacks to All Pro Von Miller. Laken Tomlinson committed two false starts. This unit is overrated.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: A. This unit is so underrated. It held Broncos starting running back Phillip Lindsay to just 30 rushing yards. DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, Cassius Marsh and D.J. Jones each hit Broncos quarterback Case Keenum once. Blair even sacked Keenum, and has five sacks the past eight games. Blair is a keeper.

LINEBACKERS: A. The 49ers front-seven hasn’t played this well since Vic Fangio was the 49ers defensive coordinator. Fred Warner and Elijah Lee each recorded four tackles. Lee started in place of injured veteran Malcolm Smith and broke up a pass. Lee is better than Smith and should start at weak-side linebacker the rest of the season.

SAFETIES: A. The 49ers started two rookie backups – D.J. Reed and Marcell Harris. They combined to record a whopping 17 tackles.

CORNERBACKS: C. Didn’t have to cover the Broncos No. 1 wide receiver, Emmanuel Sanders – he tore his Achilles last Wednesday. So, the 49ers cornerbacks had it easy. But, they still gave up a touchdown catch to DaeSean Hamilton. And Richard Sherman gave up a 19-yard catch on fourth and two, an 11-yard catch on fourth and seven, plus he missed a tackle during a 23-yard fourth-quarter run by Royce Freeman. Sherman has declined big time since the Bye week.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Richie James fumbled a punt for the second week in a row, but recovered the punt and the 49ers benched him for Trent Taylor. Robbie Gould was perfect.

COACHES: B-PLUS. Robert Saleh probably kept himself in business with this performance – that’s how well his defense played. And Kyle Shanahan probably put Broncos head coach Vance Joseph out of business. The Broncos were not prepared. The 49ers certainly were. They played hard. Shanahan the Head Coach prepared his team well, and Shanahan the Offensive Coordinator put together a brilliant game plan. But, the Broncos defense adjusted during the second half, and Shanahan’s offense fell apart. Gained just 79 net yards. Let the Broncos come back. Almost gave away the game. Once again, Shanahan didn’t know how to run the ball against a loaded box while leading after halftime. That’s why he lost the Super Bowl. But, he didn’t lose this game, because Saleh and Mullens bailed him out. Still, Shanahan gets credit for having those two and performing well in the first half. This was a big win for him. One more win this season and he’ll be off the hot seat.

This article has 135 Comments

  1. Your grade of the offensive line is rubbish, along with your grade of the wide receivers. I would give both units a solid C.

    First of all, Shanny has never been on the hot seat, nor will he be on the hot seat at anytime this year, regardless of whether or not he wins another game. Second of all, Kaepernick ain’t coming back!

    1. Sure he was if the team had a blow out loss ‘again’ and next week and the rest of the games this season. If it continues into next year, I don’t see him lasting the whole year or the following year no matter what contract he has…… what have you don’t lately.

    2. Grant would be or should be on the hot seat for suggesting Kyle is. He is not going anywhere this year. If Grant thinks anybody in 49ers management would listen to him he is delusional.

  2. The grade for the oline must be a typo. There’s no way they win this game if that group failed.

    McGlinchey was definitely held by #95 on that sack. He’s going to be on the All Rookie team.

    1. Exactly. Wolfe grabbed McGs jersey at the neck and pinned him against the guard. If McG was an 8th year player you’d expect him to prep for that, break free, but as a rookie those are learning situations.

      End of the day the guy was held.

      But lets not ignore that Von Miller had 3 off sides, and I don’t think McG had any false starts. Shows poise since he knew Miller was coming every play and fast.

  3. Pretty harsh grades on the Running Backs, Wide Receivers and OLINE. I thought Wilson was impressive ,shouldering the full load – getting no support from Morris. Pettis and Taylor redeemed themselves in the end.

    OLINE only gave up 3 sacks against Von Miller and Chubb , which is pretty impressive. Richburg and Tomlinson were bad though. I would give them a B-.

    Agree on Blair though….he has got 5.5 sacks this season already. He had 5 sacks combined in 2016 & 2017.

  4. Great team win. Super happy Mullens & Kittle were able to overcome the shoddy coaching by Shanahan to give the team a win.

  5. I would not give the RBs a D-, because the O line did not open holes to run through. I think they deserve a C, because they did not fumble the ball.
    .
    I would have given the WRs a C. They might have gotten a C- for the drops, but Taylor and Pettis made redemption catches. Still, Pettis should have slid down in bounds to keep the clock moving.
    .
    The O line gave up 3 sacks, but generally gave Mullens time to throw. However, I would have given them a C-, because they did not do well run blocking. Maybe Garnett should get some snaps if they are running the ball.
    .
    I would have given the coaching an A for improvement, but a B- because they did not score in the second half. They should have coached Pettis to stay in bounds to keep the clock moving. They did waste a time out, but thankfully it did not affect the outcome of the game. KS needs to learn better how to finish games, and improve on the clock management. Leaving 4 seconds was poor coaching. If anything, they should have let the clock expire and taken the DOG penalties, and run out the clock so the Broncos did not have a last chance.

      1. I care, and I am disagreeing with Grant, something he asks me to do.
        .
        You probably do not have any football acumen, so I am glad I do not see your grades.

        1. Oh is that so? Off the top of my head how about Jeff Wilson.. Excuse me, Jeffrey Wilson, Jr. Fumbled the ball in college on average, EVERY 30 CARRIES. I would say this a trend with him, No?

          Checkmate find a real reporter or do your own scouting dummy. U try to act so smart use your own brain for once

          1. Look at the film. Wilson struggled for every inch, was held up, and almost stripped of the ball.
            .
            He was stripped of the ball last game, so that may be the trend you are ignoring.
            .
            Extrapolating college stats to the pros just means your brilliance is shining out of every one of your orifices.
            .
            Like I say, let’s see your grades. I could use a laugh.

            1. Your an idiot. Getting stripped of the ball and fumbling is the same thing. Lol. Man you are something else…

              Look at the film? Bro I pay for the Direct TV League Pass and the NFL All 22…I bet you dont have neither, and are probably on Megins Law

              1. wtf you are beyond an idiot. You are a menace.
                .
                Since you are obsessing about Megans law, you are projecting your own faults upon me.
                .
                I have also been called a Nazi and a Trump lover, so it is nothing new to me, but you seem to be defined by your name.

  6. Suddenly the Dline is underrated and the Oline is overrated, after one game?
    The Dline has been good against the run all year but has also failed to generate pressure which is something everyone knows.
    The Oline was facing one of its toughest opponents and struggled some but over the course of the season, they have been about average. They are not yet a good Oline but are about middle of the pack which is an improvement.

    This is definitely a prisoner of the moment grade.

  7. This unit is overrated.

    Ha ha!
    The obtuseness of Grant’s comments are legendary. His analysis approaches is what Greg Cossell dismisses as “results based analysis”. Check the box scores and then pass some judgement with some inane accompanying comments.

    I’d rank Niners O line solidly in the top half of the league and in the top-10 in run blocking. They did not have their best day because of the dominant D line play of the Broncos. There were a few mental errors (Tomlinson’s false starts and Staley catching a pass that lost 5 yards instead of batting down the pass) but they pass blocked sufficiently well so that Mullens could let some plays develop. The RB is a fifth stringer playing just his second game almost had 100 yards!

    1. Hey, Joe Staley is perfect as a pass catcher. Batting it down would go against his instincts. Maybe he wanted to make a first down! ;p

      1. For some reason I cant post as my tag now hmm

        Hey Seb why do you type what u think is intelligent and then stick your tongue out to grown men? That emoji thing, your mad creepy

        Maybe he wanted a first down haha wink and tongue.

        Bro. Un real

        1. Lighten up. Some posters appreciate a little humor on this site.
          .
          Sure, Joe should have batted down the ball, but then again, some DBs catch the long bomb on 4th down, even though they should have batted down the ball.

          1. That would mean that you would have to be funny, not unintentionally funny, which you are very good at. Seb, you’re intrepid and dauntless. I’ve never seen a poster take and it dish it back like you. For that you are to be commended. I’ll leave the rest of my thoughts about the quality of your posts to myself.

            1. Slam, I am not trying to write a treatise. I am just a die hard faithful Niner fan, writing about a game that uses a funny looking ball.
              .
              This is a 49er football blog, not the Library of Congress.
              .
              Intrepid, dauntless, commended? Thank you very much. At least you are not hurling expletives. ;p

              1. The thing is I don’t care if people do. Seb does! Ive been here long enough to know where I stand and I tell it like it is.

                You are just a follower of Grant. He says jump and you bark like a bioch!

    2. Good observation on the results based analysis Mood.
      While I think this is not entirely bad if the sample size is big enough, it leads large swings in perception/grades if applied to small sample sizes.

  8. What? Lmao. What hotseat?
    I just clicked to see what idiotic thing you would say, and sure enough

    Next itll be a QB controversy, Mullens over JG.
    Grant thinks he has way more power than what he does, it’s like the National Enquirer for the 49ers. Unfortunately your readers dont make up even 1% of all the 49er fans. Thank God for that

    1. Too bad less than 1% of all fans are not passionate enough to attend a game. There seemed like there were more Bronco fans than Niner fans, and the sea of red were just the backs of empty seats.
      .
      Grant said that Saleh saved his job, so the hot seat has cooled. Winning does that.

  9. This is my take: These players work harder than Grant ever has in his entire life. Then Grant sits there and essentially tries to make a mockery of the 49ers, creating stories and drama. Its sociopathic really, and then he wonders why real football ppl dont respect him. That just fuels his vengeance more. Its clown stuff. I’m not trying to hate, everybody has to make a living. It’s the idiot’s that feed into what he says thats bothersome.

    1. The 49ers make a mockery of the 49ers by losing at least 10 games every season except when Jim Harbaugh is the head coach. There is a serious culture of losing in Santa Clara and you’re happy because the players work hard.

      1. Oh so your gonna put words in my mouth? I’m not happy, however unlike you; I know football and can see progression and ideas better suited to the 49ers in sunny Santa Clara….Then trying to revive the ’85 Bears out there. And the same problems Harbaugh had in SF, he has in Michigan. Boring, flat offense. Too bad your daddy couldn’t get you a job out there huh? Cause you are hardly the man or credible enough to be talking 49er football and culture. Ouch

          1. What progression? The offense is light years ahead of what it was before your master Harbaugh and Kaepernick were here…And that’s with a 3rd string QB, who by the way Shanahan has done a masterful job with. You try to place blame on KS every single week on a SB loss, yet never bring up Harbaugh and Kaeps epic choke on the 5 yard line in the SB. All this analysis from you, who has never played a down of football in your life. Go back to politics chump

            1. Grant Cohn says:
              December 9, 2018 at 11:01 pm
              What progression?

              Reply
              boombap says:
              December 10, 2018 at 3:32 am
              What progression? The offense is light years ahead of what it was before your master Harbaugh and Kaepernick were here…And that’s with a 3rd string QB, who by the way Shanahan has done a masterful job with. You try to place blame on KS every single week on a SB loss, yet never bring up Harbaugh and Kaeps epic choke on the 5 yard line in the SB. All this analysis from you, who has never played a down of football in your life. Go back to politics chump

              Got em!!! 😳

      2. Grant, you re correct about the culture of losing with the York era with the exception of the Harbaugh years and even then and now Harbaugh lacks the ‘killer metality’ to win the big games.
        As far as grades go you were far too kind on coaching A – for first half D- 2nd half = C.
        Your built in dislike for the OL is overrated Grade should be C or C-. Running back should be a C-. Running Back is only as good as the OL blocking.
        Also Don’t encourage Sebnyanh he is boring !
        Hope we can keep the game close or win against the Seahawks.

        1. Grant does not encourage me, although I got a nice post from Lowell.
          .
          Considering the emotions generated from my posts, the last thing I would call them is boring.
          .
          I gave the coaching a B-, so you are harsher than me in your assessment. They did build up a 20 point lead and won the game. KS also finished the game, and did not let the Broncos come back
          .
          The Niners should not let the Seahawks shape them, and the defensive improvement gives me hope.

          1. “Considering the emotions generated from my posts, the last thing I would call them is boring”

            99.9% of those posts are responses telling you how dumb your ideas and comments are! And its definitely not just me.

            The thing you don’t understand is when you high tailed it out of here because you “feared for your families safety” (that’s another joke) is that the blog was 100% better!

            1. Prime, I remember when you SWORE you were leaving, and never coming back.
              .
              Obviously, you are not a man of his word, but then again, welchers are like that.
              .
              BTW, why did you state that Kaep took the league by storm?

              1. “Prime, I remember when you SWORE you were leaving, and never coming back”

                I think we all get a little frustrated and say that, most recently rocket. But you last summer acting like a coward because you posted your real name and said you feared for your families safety just reiterates what kind of loser you are! Who cares about you and why would anyone come after you? You think you are important and that anyone cares about you on this blog?
                News flash Seb, you are not that special!

                Go work on your status and grow a pair!

              2. Prime, you consider me special, because you haunt my posts. Some how, I dominate your thoughts so much, you cannot have any self control.
                .
                Spewing hate and insults just define you, and you are to be pitied.
                .
                Since you have personally threatened me, I have every reason to fear for my life, and the PD should ban you for malicious threats and stalking.
                .
                All I want to do is post in a calm, civil, pleasant manner about the Niners with fellow Niner fans without some one hurling vile epithets at me.

              3. So you left the blog for awhile because I personally threatened you and I am stalking you? When did I do that? Because I asked you to meet? That means I threatened you and am stalking you? Please!

                Always playing the victim. Maybe the reason you get so much backlash on here is because you are a d bag. Ever thought that you create your own image via the comments you make?
                No instead you just blame everyone else because you are such a special person and think you are so important.
                Take a look, I am not the only one telling you that you are an idiot.

                Again, news flash status boy, you are not a legend and no cares if you are here or not.

              4. Prime, you hurl epithets and expletives, then ask to meet me. You do not want to meet me to play tiddlywinks. Some may think you are harmless, but I am too smart for that.
                .
                Most blog sites have guidelines and protocols. You have violated all of them. Of course, you have been banned before, and have come back surreptitiously, but then you were recognized by your boorish behavior.
                .
                Prime’s legacy- Kaep took the league by storm.

      3. Grant hit the nail on the head and drove it down with one swing! The team needs to focus on the fundamentals. Tackling first and foremost. Securing the ball. False starts at home?! And adjustments in second half will be shanahans demise mark my words.

      4. Your opioion only. Not long time Niner fans. I pay to see them . How about you Grant. Definitely not a mockery.We have been fans long before Grant’s dad taught to be a hater. Sad.

  10. I wish to disagree about what Grant said about JG. Actually. that 5 game win streak was very impressive, because he made the whole team better. That pass JG completed to Louis Murphy did not hit a window, he threaded the needle, and he threw it into triple coverage.
    .
    Mullens has benefited from another draft and free agency, so the talent is better. He also went against a tanking Raider team, and a depleted Bronco team. Both TB and Seattle blew out Mullens and the Niners, so pump the brakes on any QB controversy. Grant is just being Grant, to tout Mullens so highly over JG.
    .
    It is a nice situation to have 2 accurate QBs, but JG is the franchise QB, even if he is injured. It does give the Niners more flexibility, especially if a QB needy team comes calling.

  11. One would think McGlinchey had a bad game if they only had your grades to go on. McGlinchey the rookie more than held his own against Von freaking Miller. But all you mention is the sack where he was clearly held (pic related). McG is a stud. Wanna tell us how Kolton Miller is better again?

    http://i65.tinypic.com/21aaljn.jpg

    “Still, he was the 49ers best receiver.”

    Your whipping boy has turned into the whipper. Dante is whipping CBs with some sick route running. 4 TDs in his last three games, impact.

    “CORNERBACKS: C”

    No mention of Witherspoon who played well yet again, hardly worthless.

    “One more win this season and he’ll be off the hot seat.”

    Shanahan is safe. The hot seat doesn’t exist anywhere outside of your mind.

    Grant Cohn: F

    1. #80
      “Grant Cohn: F”

      And may I add : Predictable
      A large number of us already know what Grant is going to write about before we see it on the blog.
      Same negative and tired routine.

      Yesterday was a very good win against a team fighting for a playoff birth, but our predictable moderator had to find the negatives.
      What else is new?

  12. If you rate or grade a position group, its important to understand their responsibilities, right? Saying the DL is underrated is just wrong. They have really been good vs the run this year, no doubt. Armstead being healthy has really helped there. But this scheme is inherently good vs the run…It is also reliant on generating pressure from the front. Very important…In that context, the DL has not been good, particularly from the edge. Today was a win, win because the Niners need Bosa…
    Also Vance Joseph is known as a defensive coach…Their breakdowns vs Kittle in the first half were inexcusable …Kittle cost Vance his job

    1. I beg to differ. Cousins is a mobile QB, and i think JG is more mobile than Mullens.
      .
      Mullens kinda reminds me of a raw, inexperience Brees.

  13. I think Arizona should now be in line to get the number one pick.

    SF and AZ both play Seattle and the Rams, however, AZ will play ATL and SF will play Chicago which should bump up their strength of schedule. IE AZ should have the tiebreaker if I understand this correctly.

    Now, AZ will not go with a qb as they have Rosen which means they will likely either go with Bosa, Williams or Oliver. I’m guessing Bosa which will make that front 7 even more dangerous. They might trade back but with SF only having 5 picks they will not be a partner in that. The only hope at that point is if someone wants a qb.

    If Bosa is not available, while this is a deep draft for edge rushers they all have the potential to bust. Polite is a bit of a 1 year wonder and lacks a bit in length, Ferrell is good but was surrounded by talent and isn’t the athlete the others are, Burns is a flyweight and Allen lacks countermoves.

    I just hope its not like 2 years ago where that 1 meaningless end of season win makes them draft another Thomas like player because the one difference maker is gone.

    1. BTW I was still rooting the 9ers to win as it’s ingrained… it’s just when the team is eliminated so early and your hope is invested in the draft so early… everything becomes bitter sweet.

      1. When the 49ers made one critical first down Kyle said he tried to call time out but the ref didn’t hear him. He didn’t like the look but was glad the ref didn’t hear him. Getting the number one pick goes in the same category; Be careful what you wish for. I agree, they must continue to win each game and not think about anything else. If we get Bosa there is no assurance he will live up to our expectations. Right now we’re very fortunate to have a pro-bowl tight end who was drafted in the 5th round and rated only the 5th or 6th best TE in the country. Hate to quote Al Davis but he was right: Just win, Baby.

    2. Bosa just had surgery, and quit on his team. He and his brother have a reputation to be firm in their contract negotiations, so there is no guarantee that he will not hold out.
      .
      I agree that Bosa is talented and could help the team, but I hope they win all the rest of their games, because winning will help attract decent free agents. If Bosa is out of reach, the Niners should trade back to garner more picks. Titans traded back and got 4 starters, Niners should do the same.
      .
      I agree that they should have gotten a different player than Thomas, since he was duplicative, but then again, the Niners have had no major injuries on the defensive line, and shoring up the run defense was critical.

        1. Oh great, the loonies are coming out of the woodwork.
          .
          Believe it or not, many players are quitting their team and not playing in the bowls. It is the new tend.

  14. Grant ol Grant my boy. When will you learn?
    Your manufactured hatred for JG and KS does not look good my dude.

    Mullins is a fine gritty player. Had a solid game yesterday. He threw some passes to one of the best tight ends in the game. For a half.
    Faded away in the second half. The 49ers had 28 yards mid 4th? And you’re claiming he had a better game than any JG put out?
    I know you called it garbage time games last season vs Jax and Tenn. even though those two had top defenses and were playing for a playoff spot and seeding. And yet you give Mullen’s the nod vs a crappy team that came in overrated at this time. I’ve watched the Broncos all season and picked the 49ers to win this game, because Denver sucks away from home and has had to rely on lucky plays late and rally’s to get to 500 ball. Those teams luck runs out eventually.

    Now I’m not knocking Mullins. I like the kid. But to say this game was better than JG vs Jax or Tenn is half cocked nonsense. Heck his raider game was better than this one. He led a blowout and finished them in the 3rd.
    He was awful in the second half yesterday. And was good the first half.
    I’ll play a game you like to play. Take away the catches and runs from Kittle and you’d have a qb with maybe 50 yards in the first half.
    Kudos for him executing, something Kap would have missed unless he was a hot and first read. Sorry man. That comment is ridiculous.

    And for Mullins. My only knock on him is I wished he was a little more mobile and polished in the pocket when pressure is coming. Maybe he will get better with the pocket precense.

      1. OC, Foster and Joe Williams may have downgraded the 17 draft, but Thomas played well, CJB is an adequate backup, Taylor made a clutch catch, and Kittle was like finding the Mother Lode.

    1. For sure, we have good cause to like those players.

      I try not to look at draft from the perspective of what did pick did you use for each player, but whether all the new players added to the teams needs.

      I’m liking a lot of the additions, and trying to see the glass 3/4 full.

  15. An F for the O-line, an F for the O-line, holy cow an F for the O-line…SMH. I agree the O-line is over rated but an F…….

  16. Couple notes:

    1) Best game of Solomon’s career. Repeatedly had pressure on QB. Mostly at DT position. That is where he belongs.
    2) Denver is not good and they were without their starting CB’s. It’s a little like when we beat the Raiders and got excited. We beat a bad team, which does not make us a good team.
    3) Young talent showed promise. Per above, they showed promise against Raiders and then looked lost and overmatched next three games. The remaining three games will tell us everything. All playoff contenders who likely will not be able to rest players.
    4) We will see the real Mullens in next three games. That will tell us whether we have a potential starter or strong backup. If a starter, teams may come calling before draft – 2nd and 3rd? Would you do it?
    5) Extend Blair. The guy is getting better every week.
    6) Reed may be the nickel corner we need.
    7) Do we extend Armstead? Playing better, but also playing only position Solomon can potentially excel at. I say, let him go and spend money elsewhere.

      1. I thought that roughing the passer penalty was ticky tacky. Thomas bumped into him and he fell down. No head contact or Thomas falling on top of him.

    1. Don’t use that “we beat a bad team” crap. If that was the case, neither the Raiders or Broncos should have a win. The niners are a bad team, because of injuries and youth, and so beating any team is not to be expected, and when they do win it should be appreciated.

      Should we subtract wins from win totals for all the bad teams that a good team beats? Do we have to say that NE and KC only have 8 wins now since they beat teams like the Raiders and the Jets?

  17. Hearing very little about Spoon’s game. I think it was #80 that mentioned him, but no one else has. I thought he looked solid. Even turned around EARLY while in coverage on a deep route. Made a solid play in the end zone and made a couple of good tackles as well. Grant, did you see it this way or do you chalk it up to the receiving corps he faced?

      1. Well, that is kind of what I was getting at Rocket. The what if game is ultimately futile. We are what the record says we are.

        Impossible to know what could have been. But Mullens has been a bright spot in a dismal season.

  18. Not surprisingly I saw a very different game than our keeper of the blog. The Oline was solid for much of the game in pass protection and run blocking. Wilson’s YPC average declined in the second half when Denver was playing run but overall he had 90 yards on the day so far from a failure.

    Mullens was good but the over the top excitement regarding his performance is based on numbers much like it was last week. He did play well but every big play made in the passing game was the result of a wide open receiver – there was nobody within 5 yards of Kittle on his big plays – and that’s scheme and route running by the receivers more than great play by the QB. Mullens has impressed – this kid was on the PS last season and the beginning of this one – but to say this was better than any win Garoppolo had last year is hyperbole. He also has to learn to when to take a knee while running out the clock. That was the first time I’ve ever seen a QB blow the victory formation. He looks like somebody that could be good over time but he’s the backup here at best if he beats out Beathard next year.

    The CB grade also didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Witherspoon was excellent. DJ Reed was excellent. Sherman gave up the pass when he slipped on the 4th and 2 play, but he was not responsible for the 4th and 7 reception. He dropped back in zone with Marsh dropping out to cover the flat which is where the pass was completed just beyond him. Not a great defensive call to put Marsh in that situation but the conversion wasn’t Sherman’s fault. Overall the CB’s were very good and Spoon especially showed up not only in pass coverage but tacked well as did most of the defense on this day.

    The second half criticism of the offense lacks context as usual. They had 5 possessions. First possession ended after Tomlinson took a false start penalty to put them in 3rd and 15 leading to a sack. Second possession ended when Mullens had his foot stepped on forcing another 3rd and long. 3rd possession ended when Taylor had a pass bound off his hands for a pick and the 4th possession ended with a dropped pass by Pettis. Also not mentioned by our esteemed blog analyst was the almost perfect 4 minute drive the offense put together to put the game away.

    Lastly, I must mention the fact that the much maligned draft classes under the current administration showed up and played very well. The defense had multiple first and second year players playing heavy minutes and we saw plays being made by late round picks and guys who have been written off by Grant and few others around here. Just reinforces the fact you have to have patience and refrain from drawing conclusions too soon.

    While the win hurts the draft positioning, it was nice to see the team step up and play well to give us an indication of what could be on the horizon with the experience young players are getting along with the return of some key players from injury.

    1. Yeah, that’s much closer to my thoughts on the game too.

      Mullens was good for the most part, but there were quite a few throws he was very lucky to get away with. If JG had made those throws it would have been mentioned and his grade docked accordingly.

      The OL performed pretty well. Not spectacular, bit an F grade is purely designed to get a rise out of people on this site. Pointing out McGlinchey’s one sack was an attempt to suggest he played poorly, but reality is he held the best pass rusher in the NFL quiet most of the game, and the only reason he gave up a sack is the refs missed a blatant hold on him by Wolfe.

      As you said, the CBs played really well. Reed and Witherspoon especially. Also very impressed with Harris.

        1. Yeah it’s definitely not good, but it’s also not F worthy. To single-our McGlinchey doesn’t make sense considering he’s a rookie and held Miller to one sack, and he was held on that one.

          Instead I’d look at the left side where two vets allowed a rookie to get a couple of sacks on them.

            1. It was 8.33 yesterday, better than their season average. And again, if the line truly failed they would have lost the game.

              1. You’re right. Still, that would rank 24th instead of 28th. Bad. Combined with bad run blocking, they deserved an F.

                And they really should be credited with four sacks, because Richburg sacked Mullens once.

              2. The run blocking was fine with Wilson. Morris is just too slow. They really should just shelve him and play Dayes if Breida is inactive again.

              3. Wilson had no daylight and had to fight for his yards. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry against a defense that was allowing 4.7 yards per carry coming into the game.

              4. How about we take that F to a D? Still below average, but not failing. You don’t win when your oline is failing.

        2. Yeah, but yesterday’s win also showed that you don’t have to blow up the sack chart numbers to win.
          I’m too old to get worked up over stats – I only see the win/loss record these days.

      1. Scooter,

        I didn’t mention Harris by name due to not focusing on the safeties in the post, but I agree he was very impressive. He and Reed were all over the place making plays yesterday. It was nice to see some of the young players starting to play faster.

        1. Rocket,
          How is Lynch/Shanahan’ draft looking now?

          Beginning of season, I said that I wanted to see our young players develop.
          They are.

          1. The jury’s still out but they are looking a lot better the more they play. It’s understandable that the lack of impact from the #3 overall pick generates a lot of criticism, but the draft is more than the top pick and at the very least it’s looking like there is some young talent on the roster that will only get better with time. I was very pleased with what I saw from the young guys yesterday, especially on the defensive side.

            1. Rocket,
              Yup. I now view the draft as the totality of players drafted, FA’ and UDFA (especially given Baalke’ complete whiff one year).
              Looking at it from this lens, I think the new regime is ahead of the curve.

              McGlinchey will garner Pro Bowl attention and Warner could make the All Rookie team.
              They also have a consensus Pro Bowler and possible All-Pro in Kittle from last years draft.
              Not bad.

            2. U guys are something else. We were playing a journeyman QB, devoid of any real star power to throw to. ( I was surprised Sutton had absolutely no impact, while Pettis flashed again)…Let’s not get too excited, like now the draft class is great. Itll take 3 years to know.

              Why in Gods name, time and time again…In crucial plays….Is f*n Marsh dropping back in coverage?? They blew the Giants game with that crap and it really irritated me yesterday to see that they are still running the zone blitz on 3rd and 4th down..Its not fooling anybody..A good reporter would ask Shanahan about that. Clearly the zone blitz isn’t working. I’ll tell you this, and it’s not hard: If I’m dropping back and I see Marsh drifting back? I’m throwing straight in his direction. That ball is coming out.

              Niners need to correct this. Soloman Thomas has been tasked with it too, it’s not good. Hasn’t been successful, not once.

      2. One reason why the Niners run game was less successful, IMO, is that they missed an effective outside zone running game without Brieda. Wilson has been more effective on inside zone runs. Kyle builds up his play calls nicely and he is missing a piece.

    2. Yeah, Wilson didn’t rip off as many big runs in the 2nd half but was pretty consistent in the 3+ range. A lot of that goes to the push of the oline. The holes just weren’t there.

      The biggest difference yesterday was the Broncos didn’t once start a possession on the 49ers side of the field.

  19. Grant gave the defense good grades, and I generally agree with them.
    .
    One thing I saw in the box score, was that the defense caused 4 fumbles. Too bad they did not recover any of them, but it was nice to see them going for the ball. The Niners set the edge well, too.
    .
    Another thing to praise KS for, was that he made a quick adjustment. After James fumbled a punt, they put Taylor in, the next punt.
    .
    Sure wish they could have scored in the second half, but the unforced errors like stepping on the QB’s foot and false starts were frustrating. Glad they were able to finish with a win.

  20. Some have been saying that I am such a homer for Grant, so I will rip him a bit. He can take it.
    .
    Grant said that turnovers are the big determinant for whether a team wins or loses.
    ,
    However, the Niners lost the turnover battle, and won.
    .
    Guess I am reminded of Samuel Clemons and his quote- There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    1. sebnynah says:
      November 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm
      Grant, by calling me a legend, elevates my status,

      You know all about lies don’t you Status boy?

      1. I sure know about liars. You SWORE you were leaving, and never coming back. That was a big lie.
        .
        Then you lie by admitting Kaep took the league by storm, but now declare he has no talent.

        1. sebnynah says:
          November 28, 2018 at 7:43 pm
          Grant, by calling me a legend, elevates my status,

          All I know is you want to be part of the group but the group doesn’t want you.

  21. https://www.49erswebzone.com/articles/121820-49ers-coach-rich-scangarellos-emerging-offensive-coordinator-candidate/

    “Amidst backup QB struggles elsewhere, worth noting #49ers third-stringer Nick Mullens has a 93.5 passer rating (higher than Mariota, Mayfield, Trubisky, Stafford, et al.). A credit to Kyle Shanahan as well as QB coach Rich Scangarello, whose name is circulating as an OC candidate”
    — Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 10, 2018

  22. Grades are likely fair, again; and that’s kind of good and kind of a bummer.

    DBs: Richard Sherman was the weak link. Besides the whiffs Grant mentioned, he played passive on a 4th down, stopping in front of the first down stick and watching a runner go out of bounds. The runner was short of the stick, but running through rather than watching would be good.

    McGlinchy played O.K., I thought; considering it was Vaughn Miller, and Miller wound up having a bad game. On the sack, the Niners had blockers for all rushers, but the Fullback took the inside rusher even though he was being passed off, and confused assignment on McGlinchy’s side of line caused sack. Glinch’s fault for not protecting outside guy. But, McGlinchy showed speed on run plays and pushed Miller around at times. He’s a keeper.

    Niners draft added two lineman: McGlinchy and Kittle (let me count him, please); and should give more protect for QB.
    Lee played good at LB; and LB’s were aggressive in pass coverage; a huge improvement from two year’s ago.

  23. Anyone talking about trying to trade Garoppollo and rolling with Mullens? I haven’t noticed a huge drop in QB play between the two and it seems the better option than trading Nick at the end of the season would be to trade Garoppolo and maximize the contract of Mullens. I know Jimmy’s contract is high but I’d bet you could find a reasonable return for him.

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