49ers-Bengals report card

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, meets with Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor, right, after an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Cincinnati. The 49ers won 41-17. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

The 49ers beat the Bengals 41-17 in Cincinnati on Sunday. Here are the 49ers’ grades:

GAROPPOLO: A-minus. At his best, Jimmy Garoppolo is a gorgeous passer. He has gorgeous footwork, gorgeous accuracy and a gorgeous spiral. Sunday was Garoppolo at his most gorgeous. He completed 68 percent of his throws, threw three touchdown passes and posted a 131.2. Gorgeous. The only play that wasn’t pretty was Garoppolo’s interception during the second quarter. On second and 20, Garoppolo predetermined a deep pass to Richie James Jr. and sailed a pass to a cornerback who was waiting for the ball. Garoppolo never saw him. That was the only reckless move he made. Mostly, he looked and played like Joe Montana.

RUNNING BACKS: A-plus. No Tevin Coleman? No problem. Matt Breida gained 132 yards from scrimmage. Raheem Mostert scored one touchdown (plus another that was called back) and gained 151 yards from scrimmage. And Jeff Wilson Jr. scored two powerful rushing touchdowns in the red zone. Wilson Jr. is exactly what the 49ers’ offense needs in the red zone. Even without Coleman, the 49ers have one of the best running back trios in the NFL.

WIDE RECEIVERS: A. The two starters — Deebo Samuel and Marquise Goodwin — combined to catch eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Last season’s starter, Dante Pettis, caught no passes against the Bengals, but did complete a pass for 16 yards.

TIGHT ENDS: B. The Bengals made it their business to take away George Kittle from the 49ers’ offense, so the 49ers basically won without him. Kittle caught just three passes for 54 yards. He drew the defense’s attention and helped his teammates get open.

OFFENSIVE LINE: A-plus. They gave up zero sacks and allowed the offense to rush for 259 yards and average 6.2 yards per carry. But, this group received a blow during the third quarter, when Joe Staley fractured his fibula. He could miss the next eight weeks.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A-plus. They played their usual “Wide 9” defensive alignment, which theoretically is vulnerable against running plays, and gave up only 25 rushing yards the entire game. The defensive linemen pushed around the Bengals offensive linemen and sacked Andy Dalton four times. Nick Bosa played through a high-ankle sprain for the second straight week and recorded no statistics other than an offside penalty.

LINEBACKERS: A-plus. Fred Warner recorded six tackles. Kwon Alexander recorded six and intercepted one pass. Alexander seems like a significant upgrade over Reuben Foster, whom the team released last season.

SECONDARY: A. Ahkello Witherspoon broke up two passes and made the Bengals looks silly for challenging him. Meanwhile, the Bengals never mustered the courage to challenge Richard Sherman, who still commands respect.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Robbie Gould missed an easy 39-yard field goal, which is rare for him. Rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky redeemed the special team’s grade by dropping a punt at the Bengals’ three-yard line.

COACHES: A-plus. Kyle Shanahan coached like he wanted to put Bengals head coach Zac Taylor out of business. Shanahan called a perfect mix of runs and passes, found brilliants ways to create big plays without exposing Garoppolo or throwing deep, and showed Taylor zero mercy. The Bengals defense seemed to lose heart after halftime, and Shanahan never let up. He seemingly wanted the 49ers to score 40 points and make a statement, and they did. The NFL is a hard world. Shanahan established himself as a serious up-and-coming head coach at the expense of Taylor, who now looks like a fraud. Sorry, Zac.

This article has 34 Comments

    1. Yup. Another ‘I nailed it’ assertion by Grant…

      The 49ers just made a terrible mistake.

      They agreed to terms with free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander, and reportedly will pay him $54 million over the next four years ($13.5 million per season on average). Alexander will earn $27 million guaranteed — tied for the most guaranteed money among inside linebackers with All Pro Luke Kuechly. Alexander now is the second-highest-paid player on the 49ers in terms of average annual money after Jimmy Garoppolo.

      Alexander, 24, is a former fourth-round pick who played the first four seasons of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and missed lots of tackles. Then, on Oct. 22, 2018, Alexander tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. Meaning three of the 49ers top-five highest-paid players in terms of average annual money (Alexander, Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garopplo) currently are rehabbing ACL tears.

      I thought the 49ers wanted to get healthier?

      This seems like a move Trent Baalke would make. But, he never would pay $27 million guaranteed for any linebacker he didn’t draft. This move is pure John Lynch.

      GRADE: F

      1. That bit by Grant aged about as well as all of trump’s idiotic tweets about Obama playing too much golf (along with all the other braindead drivel trump inflicts on us).

  1. Interested to see what they do this week. Maybe a trade for a LT, more likely they sign one of those guys they worked out earlier this month. I’m definitely concerned

    1. Yes. Unless a ‘can’t pass it up’ deal comes along, I think they bring in an OT they’ve been scouting–currently unsigned or ‘poachable’ on someone’s practice squad.

      1. Raz

        My only concern with Brunskill is his weight…I fully expected him to spend this season beefing up…He has the length and the frame….Who’s looking ‘ripe’ for poaching the Ps’s…anyone..? I think that Skule is our next “JOE”

  2. “Shanahan called a perfect mix of runs and passes, found brilliants ways to create big plays without exposing Garoppolo or throwing deep”.

    Yep, he sure did. This was a great showcase for Shanahan’s ability to scheme big plays. JG had nearly 300 yards passing but only threw a few balls beyond 10 yards (and one was a TD to a wide open Goodwin). I really liked what he did using guys like Samuel and Pettis as pseudo RBs at times, with WR sweeps, fake sweeps and screens (even though Pettis never actually touched the ball except for the pass play).

    The run and pass blocking in this game was also one of the big keys though. And it wasn’t just the OL – everyone blocked well. JG had heaps of time, the RBs had heaps of space. That, plus Shanny calling a great game to keep the D hesitating, won the game.

  3. …..found brilliant ways to create big plays without exposing Garoppolo or throwing deep….

    Really want to avoid exposing Garoppolo.

  4. Rookie punter Mitch Wishnowsky redeemed the special team’s grade by dropping a punt at the Bengals’ three-yard line.

    Indeed.

  5. Agree, with the exception I give Jimmy an A- for the pick he threw up for grabs. Bad decision. But really the best performance by a 49er team in years. Efficient and dominant on both sides of the ball. This is why I was so PO’d last Sunday. They shoulda won by 30. . Long season and already lost Staley. Gotta knock out a reeling Steeler team next Sunday at Levi’s.. Go into the Bye and get healthy..

        1. Gran t
          You forgot to bring up the number of penalties.
          Also since the game was well under control and Joe S was hurt KS should have pulled Jimmy G just in case, no sense in risking another injury.

    1. They even took a time out to get that play perfect. It was perfectly dreadful, after a false start penalty.
      .
      Generally, I agree with every grade.
      .
      I would give the DBs an A- because Dalton did complete a lot of passes for first downs.
      .
      I would give the Coaches an A, because they could have reduced the number of the unforced errors.The coaches did do a great job, but the Bengals were bunglers, so the Niner coaches had an easier time defeating them.
      .
      No matter what, they are now in the playoff picture. It sure is nice to see the Niners relevant again.

  6. Alexander is what I thought Foster would be when we drafted him. Alexander has exceeded my expectations, so far and is an absolute BEAST !
    What about the elephant in the room, Staley out for 8 weeks. Is there someone out there we can get off a practice squad or in trade. I think this is HUGE and was not exposed at the end of our blowout victory. The rookie is not going to cut it in a full NFL game and might get JG hurt. We need help and we need it soon. A craft old vet would be nice. Do we need to move McGlinch to LT and maybe fill in at RT?

    1. montanaoveryoung

      I’m in complete agreement with you about Kwon Alexander…and every week he gets stronger…. You don’t just replace a Staley off of the junk heap…and I don’t think anyone expects to…but if we’re going to fill that hole, I like that Big Joe is going to be personally coaching Skule, I believe that he’ll be up to the task over someone who doesn’t know the system like Skule does and willl .

  7. What’s it gonna take to get Trent Williams from Washington? Skule is not ready, and may not ever be a competent LT in this league. Brunskill weighs only 260, would probably get run over. The OT’s who worked out for the 49ers recently both signed with teams.

  8. Grant, I really respected the things you said in your pre-game periscope about changing your mind about Saleh, and even Shanahan (yes, I do watch, but not live).

    Liked this post. Maybe I’m changing my mind about you!

  9. Most TEs get about 50 yards per game. That’s an 800 yard season, which puts one into consideration for the pro bowl so nothing to take away fro Kittle.

  10. Did anyone else see Kittle truck a db or two on a reception? I always love a straight arm…very VIOLENT….great win today I am for once stoked….although the team they played really really sucked but way to put away a team that sucks…..go Frisco

  11. Sherman did get challenged with Ross going deep in man to man coverage and Sherman was hip to hip with him. Incomplete. And Sherman was bumping at line of scrimmage.

  12. I think you are deflating the Tight End grade. The Bengals did not take into account Kittle could block. And block, he did extremely well. Most of his blocks resulted in great-extended gains for the running game. Just shows he is great at both pass catching and bloccking.

    Once more, I think this grade should be an A.

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