SANTA CLARA — The 49ers neutered the Green Bay Packers Sunday night by a score of 37-8. Here are the 49ers’ grades:
GAROPPOLO: A. He played with the lead the entire game and only threw 20 pass attempts, but he didn’t need to throw much. And he still threw for 253 yard and two touchdowns, and his quarterback rating was 145.8. This was the biggest game of Garoppolo’s career and he was outstanding. He fumbled one snap, but didn’t throw any passes to the opposing defense for a change. Meaning Bad Jimmy never made his weekly cameo. Good Jimmy hogged the spotlight, while Aaron Rodgers played like Bad Aaron or Old Aaron or both. Big step for Garoppolo.
RUNNING BACKS: B. Tevin Coleman averaged only 3.5 yards per carry — he has struggled running the ball since his huge game against the Panthers four weeks ago. But, Raheem Mostert averaged 7.5 yards per carry and Jeff Wilson Jr. averaged 13.5 yards per carry. And for the first time in weeks, the 49ers ran the ball effectively.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B. Deebo Samuel’s 100-yard-streak ended at two games, but he still made a 42-yard touchdown catch that essentially put away the Packers late in the second quarter. Emmanuel Sanders played through a painful rib injury for the second straight game. Dante Pettis never played, and Marquise Goodwin was a healthy scratch. I would be shocked if Goodwin remained on the team next season.
TIGHT ENDS: A. George Kittle played with a freaking bone chip in his ankle, and still caught six passes for 129 yards and one touchdown. He’s a legend, one of the best athletes and showmen in the NFL. He will make a fantastic professional wrestler one day. He’s already a fantastic tight end.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-plus. They gave up three sacks, and rookie left tackle Justin Skule really got schooled by Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith. But, the 49ers benched Skule and replaced him with backup tackle Daniel Brunskill, and the pass protection improved tremendously after this switch.
DEFENSIVE LINE: A. Arik Armstead recorded two sacks, Nick Bosa recorded one and DeForest Buckner recorded 0.5. The Packers couldn’t block this trio. Even without Dee Ford, who missed the game with quadriceps and hamstring injuries, the 49ers have a phenomenal pass rush. Just ask Aaron Rodgers, who was looking for a place to hide most of the game.
LINEBACKERS: A. Fred Warner recorded 11 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. He is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. The improvement has made during his second seasons is reminiscent of the improvement Kittle made last season.
SECONDARY: A. The Packers threw at Richard Sherman only twice, and he gave up just one catch for seven yards. The Packers seemed scared of him. So, they went after the 49ers’ other cornerbacks, Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley, who are arguably better than Sherman. So, of course the Packers struggled passing the ball. Free safety Jimmie Ward played his best game in the NFL. He broke up three critical third-down passes, including a deep one to tight end Jimmy Graham.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Mitch Wishnowsky averaged a respectable 45.5 yards per punt, and backup kicker Chase McLaughlin made all three of his field-goal attempts, including a difficult 48-yarder.
COACHES: A. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh correctly identified the Packers are a run-first offense and shut down their running game. Packers starting running back Aaron Jones, an MVP candidate, rushed for only 2.9 yards per carry. Most defensive coordinators would focus on stopping Rodgers, but Saleh is smarter than most defensive coordinators. He’s that good. And so is head Kyle Shanahan. The Packers tried to take away Shanahan’s running game early in the game. So, he took what they gave him. Called lots of passes and run-pass options early in the game until the Packers defense backed off. As opposed to Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, who continuously ran the ball into loaded boxes with no success. Shanahan is so much better than LaFleur. Shanahan is so much better than most coaches.