49ers First Half Grades: Offense

The 49ers reached the midpoint of their season. That coupled with the team having its bye this week makes it’s this a perfect time to reflect on the first half of the season. Here are their grades for the first half.

Quarterback: B

Trey Lance struggled in a season opening loss at Chicago. He missed a wide-open Tyler Kroft for a touchdown early in the game. In the second half he passed up a possible touchdown to Jauan Jennings, taking a sack instead. A torrential downpour made conditions nearly unplayable in shortly after he threw an interception.

In week two, Lance led the 49ers offense to a field goal on its opening possession against Seattle. On the ensuing possession he was lost for the season after suffering a broken ankle after keeping the ball on a zone-read.

With Lance out, Jimmy Garoppolo took over as the 49ers starting quarterback.

Despite missing all of training camp and preseason while recuperating from offseason surgery, the veteran quarterback had a solid performance off the bench.

His first start against Denver a week later wasn’t so smooth. In fact, it was Garoppolo’s worst performance of his career.

He has since rebounded and ranks among the top ten in several statistical categories. Those include completion percentage, touchdown percentage, yards per attempt, yards per completion and net yards per attempt.

In a 31-14 win over Los Angeles last Sunday, Garoppolo became only the fourth quarterback in 49ers history to complete 84 percent of their passes in a game.

Running Backs: C

The 49ers running backs had mixed results throughout the first half.

Elijah Mitchell suffered an injury after only six carries in week one against Chicago.

Jeff Wilson Jr. stepped in as the starter and was solid. The former undrafted free agent was among the top ten in rushing yards through the first six weeks.

Wilson saw his carries be reduced after the team traded for Christian McCaffrey.

Deebo Samuel was the only other 49er to have more than 20 rushing attempts through much of the first half. The wide receiver had 24 carries for 138 yards before missing the Rams game with a hamstring injury.

Rookie Ty Davis-Price missed most of the first half with a high ankle injury. Fellow rookie Jordan Mason was limited to only one rush attempt despite looking explosive during the preseason.

Instead of using the rookies, Kyle Shanahan brought in Tevin Coleman. The veteran had a couple nice receptions against Carolina but managed only 2.2 yards per rushing attempt before being released. He has since re-signed to the practice squad.

Seeing the lack of productivity from the backfield, San Francisco swung for the fences when it sent four draft picks to Carolina in exchange for Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey has looked fantastic through his first two games in red and gold. Making his first start last Sunday in Los Angeles, the former Stanford Cardinal picked up 149 yards on 26 touches. McCaffrey became the first player since 2005 to record a passing, rushing, and receiving touchdown.

If he and Mitchell are healthy the rest of the way, the running back room will show massive growth in production over the second half of the year.

Wide Receivers: C

This grade would be higher, but the 49ers lead the NFL in percentage of dropped passes at eight percent.

Deebo Samuel leads the team with seven and Jauan Jennings isn’t far behind with five.

On the positive side, San Francisco leads the NFL in yards after the catch with an average of 6.9 per reception. Their 12 receiving touchdowns is just outside of the top ten as well.

Brandon Aiyuk has led the way with 38 receptions for 483 yards and four touchdowns.

Rookie Danny Gray has been a non-factor so far. He has been targeted only six times and has no receptions.

Tight Ends: B-

The 49ers tight ends get a slightly better grade than the wide receivers because other than Charlie Woerner they’ve been able to hold onto the ball.

George Kittle has continued to be among the best blocking tight ends in the league. In addition, he has seen his targets increase over the last three weeks of the first half. That increase has led to touchdown receptions in back-to-back weeks.

Charlie Woerner is a decent blocker, but he has stone hands. The third-year player was wide open for a pair of deep passes, both hit him in the hands before falling to the ground incomplete. Those are his only two targets on the season.

Ross Dwelley and Tyler Kroft have been much better, and their snaps have increased in recent weeks as a result. The two have been able to haul in five of the eight passes that have come their way. Dwelley had a touchdown reception against Seattle and a 56-yard grab which set up the final 49ers score last week against Los Angeles.

Offensive Line: B

Heading into training camp and even into week one, there were a lot of questions about the 49ers offensive line.

Gone were Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack while Daniel Brunskill was sidelined with an injury. Their replacements: Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, and Spencer Burford had a total of three starts between them.

That inside trio along with Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey have proven to be anything but a concern.

San Francisco’s quarterbacks have been pressured on only 16.4 percent of their drop backs this season, fourth lowest in the league.

This group has been solid in the run game as well. Although they are around the middle of the pack in yards per attempt, their average of 4.5 is a slight increase over last season.

Coaches: C-

In school a C- represents slightly below average, which is where the 49ers offense has been throughout the first half.

They are eleventh in yards, but yards don’t win games, points do and their average of 22 per game ranks 18th.

San Francisco’s points output being slightly below average in the first half stems from their lack of execution.

The 49ers offense is tied for the eighth most penalties and they are tenth in fumbles. These mistakes have led to only 34.5 percent of drives resulting in touchdowns, putting them in them in the bottom ten.

This article has 16 Comments

  1. I believe that the RB grade is in direct correlation to the O lines inability to open holes early in the season. The O lines run blocking has gotten better as the season has progressed but early on I don’t believe their run blocking was effective. I believe the O line is grading out as a B now but their comprehensive grade id a C at best. I think the coaching grade is also effected by the O lines problems early in the year. To Quote an old alumni of the blog “Hofer” I do believe that now all arrows are pointing up.

    1. Totally agree. O-line issues directly lead to the RB issues. Stats are kind of weird though. 49ers are averaging 4.5 YPA this year so far. The past 2 years they were at 4.3 YPA which would seem to indicate the o-line is better this year than last year which I don’t think is the case at all. My best guess is the number of attempts is the driver for the higher YPA this year. 49ers ran the ball much more often over the past 2 years than this year which statistically means it’s more likely to have a lower YPA when you have more attempts.

    2. OC,

      The RB grade is a reflection of the group as a whole. Wilson Jr. gets a B, but the rest of that group drags them down to a C.

      McCaffrey wasn’t here long enough to change the entire grade for the half.

      The rookies have been non-factors to this point, creating the need to bring in a vet like Coleman who didn’t have a high average per carry the first time around with the team.

  2. I think Jack’s grades are fair and as OC says, run blocking has improved. Nice to see Kittle getting chances once again. He is still impactful. Kroft is interesting but we do not have enough data. Woener needs to go. next year. His blocking is average and he cannot catch. NO need to pay anything for that combo.
    Can we see Mason? I wonder why he has not played except one touch? Please do not overuse CMC and do nto send this dear man up the middle. Kyle loves to send invaluable players to that spot. Finally, I worry that trey did not, during OTAs or Camp show substantial improvement. He does not see the field that well and seems too inaccurate. Hard to see him starting next year. We overpaid for him by a lot.

    1. Without question, McCaffrey has shown to be THE difference maker for this offense, after two games…and with that, I want to second your plea not to overuse him..really, there is no need to should Elijah Mitchell return to form, Davis-Price fully recover and Mason get increases in playing time and touches…Deebo’s talents can now be utilized downfield as opposed to in the backfield…but, he does make an outstanding decoy in the backfield, for opposing defenses to concern themselves with….

    2. The QB situation next season will be “interesting”. Drafting QBs has always had a lot of swing and misses over the years and Trey might end up in that category. Trey has some nice physical attributes but Montana and others have shown that “intangibles” are the key to success. I doubt that Jimmy G will want to stick around after this season if he continues to have success and is offered a starting job elsewhere.

  3. Jack what has been your thoughts on Brian Griese? You have posted a decent amount of videos during practice with Griese really getting involved. I find it sort of surprising.

    I think he has helped Garoppolo at least become more aware of some of his weaknesses. The last 3 games he seems to be making progressions and throwing the ball to the right places. He also has been using the pump fake, really more of a decision to pull a ball back. I also feel like he has been using his legs at the right time. Since 2019 he has showed a bit more maneuverability in and around the pocket.

    Also why does he struggle so much when throwing on the move going to his right?

    1. Griese has been very hands on, and that seems to be helping.

      Garoppolo’s problem when rolling to his right is he doesn’t get the shoulder pointed to the target. This keeps him from being able to drive the ball like he does when rolling to his left.

  4. A few thoughts:

    What does Anthony Lynn do for a living?

    Offensive Line: B – Totally disagree. I’d probably go with a C.

    QB: Kyle Shanahan is 73.8% responsible for Trey Lance’s injury. I agree the QB grade is a B but the Coaching grade should be a D for absolutely ridiculous play calls and play designs that directly led to a major injury to your franchise QB.

  5. I understand and agree with those who argue that these messages are pointless because the owner will not pay attention to what is written on them. However, geometry dash if you don’t already attend games, continuing to do so isn’t much of a protest. People who do not attend games can express their dissatisfaction with the team by purchasing banners and posting messages, as their lack of attendance will not be a factor.

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