49ers midterm report card, Part I

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) runs against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Dear Jed York,

You may wonder why you didn’t receive this midterm report card last week, at the midpoint of the 49ers season.

That report card would have been bleak. Mostly Ds and Fs.

For the fourth year in a row, your season ended before November. This season, the 49ers fell out of contention before they won their second game.

But, they tried so hard despite their shortcomings. They earned an extra week to boost their midseason grades. And they played the Oakland Raiders, grade-boosters deluxe. The Raiders made the 49ers look fantastic last Thursday. Your team may have improved.

Here are the 49ers midseason grades, starting with their offense. Grades for defense, special teams and coaches will arrive Tuesday.

This article has 106 Comments

  1. I agree with most of the grades you have for the offense except for the offensive line. You lay the blame on them for the sacks, but the reality is a good number of the sacks have been on the QB and the inability of the WRs to separate. I would grade the unit at a B- or C+.

      1. Playing better then I was expecting. Pass pro needs lots of work and as Mid noted that has a lot to do with QB and WR play eh, cant forget coaching either.

        1. The 49ers don’t run well while leading in the fourth quarter. That’s when they have to run to use up the clock. That’s when the opponent expects them to run and sells out to stop it. A team with a dominant offensive line can run even when the opponent knows it’s coming. The 49ers don’t yet have a dominant O-line.

          That’s why the grade should remain C…..they have yet to close out one game this season…

  2. Re offensive line, as I write, getting rid of Kilgore and Trent Brown were mistakes. You never get rid of any player until you KNOW you have a better replacement. They may get lucky with the draft but violated a cardinal rule. This has been a 49rd curse for too long. Delaney Walker, Ted Ginn Jr. , Mike Iupati, Vernon Davis…on and on. Replaced by a list of HOPEFULLY better players. Hope us not a plan.

    1. Re offensive line, as I write, getting rid of Kilgore and Trent Brown were mistakes.

      Kilgore wanted to be traded instead of playing RG and went on the Dolphins IR at the beginning of October due to a tear in his triceps. Meanwhile, Brown was not a fit for an offense that runs the ball; he is a great pass protector but an average run blocker at best.

          1. Golldarnitt, Razor!
            Howdaphuk we gonna getting back together again?
            We’re all our sheeting in the wind!
            You. Me. Different but NOT different! We’re not, even though we disagree sometimes.
            Gotta figure dis sheet out.
            ‘ Merican. Democracy. Compromise.
            God bless our Choice on Tuesday.
            Gung Ho after that.

            1. It seems some posters on show up once every six months to make posts. I thought that pretty much everyone had put the replacing Brown thing to bed. This is not the only instant where there have been entire threads on certain issues on which the subject is beaten to death, yet months later some guy comes out of the woodwork to make a statement like the discussion never even happened.

              1. Willtalk – Sorry I missed the part where you guys in the know worked everything out and that closes the door on any further comment. Why don’t you pick on Grant who is still pushing for CK after enough noise from all y’all to make a maggot puke.

      1. I’ll add you to the list of guys who don’t believe that Shanahan is serious about “competition”. The latest example of which is the “competition” between CJ and the other guy who just got let in the building. BTW – Brown is playing left tackle now and there’s nothing wrong with the Patriots running game. Did you play football at CSM or were you just a fan?

        1. Again where were you when all those discussion on this subject were taking place. The Pats do not run the same blocking system. The Niner system puts more emphasis on mobility than power. The play where McGlinchy was blocking 50 yards down field , while an exaggeration certainly makes a point of what makes the run blocking work. If it is a choice between power and mobility they will always go with mobility although they would rather have both. Brown has no mobility.

        2. Oh please. Your example went down like the Titanic, only faster. Brown was not a fit for this offense, and Kilgore resumed his annual tradition of being injured.
          If you are going to gripe about something, then make an actual effort. Don’t bring up players who are on IR and those who did not fit the offensive scheme.

          1. “and Kilgore resumed his annual tradition of being injured.”

            I’m surprised Vance McDonald hasn’t resumed that tradition yet.

      2. The book on Nick Mullens is he didn’t fit the scheme either…until he got a chance to play. Grant says: “And center Weston Richburg is weak. He can’t hold his ground against a strong nose tackle.” But, I forgot, you knew the future when they let Kilgore go – Better to sign a free agent who was coming off an injury and was replaced as the starter by the lowly Giants. Grant also says that the C- offensive linemen individually struggle in pass protection and have given up the third most sacks in the league. So, why not let go of a (now) left tackle (on a contending team) who several have claimed is one of the best pass blockers in the NFL but struggles to (get this) not run block but block the way his coaches scheme demands. You can go ahead and cap on me but your logic and knowledge of the game escapes me. Shanahan has a plan and a 6 year contract and here we are in year two with a line that can’t pass block but are all good scheme fits (I assume). Oh and Staley is old and showing his age so we just have to call the union hall for a HOF left tackle to replace him. Obviously my thoughts here are based on the fact that I think Grant has fairly evaluated the state of the team with his grades. And just as obvious to me, you don’t agree.

    2. WC,

      They got rid of Kilgore after they signed his replacement and Brown didn’t fit the blocking system – still doesn’t. The issue is at the OG positions for the most part, and even those have improved, so not sure why you are all broken up about letting these two walk.

      1. Rocket – They got rid of Kilgore after they signed a free agent who was coming off an injury and had lost his starting position. He wasn’t even the best center on the lowly Giants. I know the party line on Brown. They just didn’t like him. I don’t believe that Shanahan and his crew couldn’t have coached him up or slightly modified their precious scheme to utilize an excellent pass blocker who some have claimed is one of the best in the game. To me the situation is similar to what we saw with CJ Beathard, the QB that “fits the scheme”, but who would go out and stink up our TV screens week after week while another young QB, who clearly has better skills, but is not quite the proper scheme fit, sits on the sidelines. I know you know the game but I’m not a dummy. Left tackles who are lights out at pass blocking don’t grow on trees. And left tackles who are lights out at pass blocking AND excellent at zone run blocking are HOF and even more rare.

        1. Rocket – They got rid of Kilgore after they signed a free agent who was coming off an injury and had lost his starting position.

          This isn’t even remotely close to true. Richburg was coming off an injury, but he was let go because the Giants were wanting to revamp their OL. The team wanted to keep Kilgore and have him be the RG, but he wanted out. So they granted his wish and traded him to Dolphins.

          1. Beat me to it. The Giants offensive line is a mess. They overpaid for Solder, who the Patriots wisely let go, then they overpaid for Omameh who then got benched causing Greco to be moved from center to his RG position. They traded the center (Jones) who they felt was better than Richburg to the Vikings, and because they had to move Greco, they’ve had some dude named Pulley at Center. They recently picked up Jamon Brown, who the Rams released once they acquired Fowler, and plan to play him at RG so they can move Greco back to center. Whew and yikes!

          2. https://giantswire.usatoday.com/2018/03/07/new-york-giants-believe-weston-richburg-no-longer-starting-talent/

            Click the link if you like. It’s from the Giants POV. The title kinda says it all. Your account is the one that “isn’t even remotely close to true”. It is as I said to Rocket: Richberg was not even the best center on the lowly Giants”. I hadn’t considered it before, but Willtalk kinda summarized the state of this blog: A select group of old timers hashes things out until their view of reality is adopted as the real thing, news wise.

            1. You just proved absolutely nothing. In the article, it states that the coaching staff believed he was too light for a power run system which the Giants had to go to due to Beckham being out.
              Oh, and let us not forget that the new Giants GM Gettleman had stated that he wanted to rebuild the offensive line, so my statement was accurate.

            2. WC,

              Straight from the article you linked:

              After a rough rookie campaign at guard, Richburg returned with a vengeance as a sophomore and established himself in the middle. He started 15 games at center in 2015 and another 16 in 2016, but things took a downhill turn last season.

              the coaching staff was concerned about Richburg’s weight — he was too light — and his inability to move defensive tackles in a power running game.

              Two thing: Richburg was the starter for two seasons for the Giants and graded out pretty well especially in 2016. The other was that he didn’t fit a power running blocking scheme. The Giants did the exact same thing with Richburg as the Niners did with Brown. No longer fits the system so you let him go. Richburg is a zone blocking C, he fits this scheme. His pass blocking wasn’t an issue previously but he’s struggled at times this year. We’ll see how that plays out, but he was a popular guy in FA for a reason.

              1. Rocket- The Giants were concerned about his weight but the 49ers brain trust wasn’t. Let’s agree to disagree – Richberg is in the same category of CJ and Joe Williams. I saw that some genius posted that there were a lot of changes in the 49er front office but the scouting staff was left in tact. Did any one of the geniuses bother to look at who the scouts recommended and who of their picks were over ruled. Richberg over Kilgore was a bad decision and letting Brown go was also one. I could go on but I am willing to let time tell the story. Based on my previous readings or your posts I believe that you have a business background – Richberg is being paid 47.5 million $. Go ahead and pile on me. Willtalk doesn’t address my points but says I filed my thoughts after the deadline. MWD is just a cranky old guy who won’t even tell me where he went to college. Let’s talk again at the end of the season.

        2. WC,

          I know you aren’t a dummy and you aren’t wrong about Brown’s ability to pass protect either. The issue is how well would he fit into a zone blocking system that relies on athleticism and ability to get to the next level in the running game. They got to see Brown in 10 games last year and decided he didn’t fit. Sure they could change the blocking scheme, but the scheme is the choice of the HC in order to run his system so doing that wasn’t an option. As it is they found a better fit in McGlinchey who has performed very well and will only get better, so not having Brown is not a huge loss imo.

          Richburg was the same deal. Better fit and was one of the highest rated C’s before his concussion problems last year. It’s been a slow start for him, but he has the ability and was a better choice than Kilgore who wasn’t a great fit and who has always had problems staying healthy.

          It remains to be seen how good Mullens can be, but blaming the Coaches for not seeing he could play like he did against Oakland is ignoring the realities of being an UDFA. He didn’t get enough snaps for them to see how good he can be. He also didn’t light things up in the preseason to the point the Coaches would be swayed to think he was more than a PS or 3rd string guy. These things happen because there isn’t enough to time to evaluate everybody and certainly not at the QB position. The starter has to get 90% of the snaps to prepare for a game which doesn’t leave much for the backup and nothing but Scout team for the 3rd string guy.

          1. Your both wrong. Nobody questioned Trent Browns talent, it was his dedication. The 49ers simply did not want him to be one of the highest paid players in the locker room…His ‘fit’ in the scheme was probably secondary, as everybody knows his ability to pass protect

    3. The offensive line is fine until they have to push people around. The offense averages 5.37 yards per carry in quarters 1-3 and only 3.09 in the 4th.

      They’ve also gotten worse in the redzone where they average only 1.4 ypc, nearly a full yard worse on average over last year.

  3. Can we expect a parent teacher conference? You know, Grant sits down with Lynch and Jed to discuss grades given to their position groups?

  4. I would give the O line a B-, because they deserve an A for the run game, and a D for pass protection.However, CJB held onto the ball too long, and even JG in the Lions game.
    .
    The WRs deserve a C-, because Goodwin was injured and they had CJB throwing to them. Garcon played well last game, but he was also open by 10 yards.
    .
    The QB grade is skewed, because CJB failed, but Mullens shined. JG gets an incomplete because he was injured so soon.
    .
    I wonder how the defense grades out.

      1. Well, KS deserves shade for declaring CJB is the best QB in the building, but maybe they stuck Mullens out in the equipment shed.
        .
        Some of the position coaches deserve poor grades.
        .
        Thank goodness Saleh is improving. The defense was stout last game, but they were also beating up a dispirited unmotivated team with no energy.
        .
        2-7 teams usually get poor marks due to the record.

        1. “Well, KS deserves shade for declaring CJB is the best QB in the building”

          What else would he say? He was supporting his starting QB. Saying he should have started Mullens sooner is true, but it’s much easier to say that after last Thursday.

          You said this and it also applies to Mullens.

          “but they were also beating up a dispirited unmotivated team with no energy.”

          1. KS’s assessment skills were lacking when he declared Hoyer to be the starter, too.
            .
            Grant thought CJB was bad, even during TC.
            .
            Mullens would not have lost to the Cards twice. He not only threw the ball with accuracy, his decision making skills were superior to CJB.

            1. “Grant thought CJB was bad, even during TC.”

              But Grant wanted Kap, not Mullens.

              “Mullens would not have lost to the Cards twice. He not only threw the ball with accuracy, his decision making skills were superior to CJB.”

              Again, you can say that now, but a week ago we were all just hoping he would be somewhat competent.

              1. Mullens was an unknown. He never threw a pass in the NFL. Kaep is a grizzled veteran. A SB QB who has set playoff rushing records.He has a 4-2 road playoff record.
                .
                However, now that Mullens has shown his competence, I am happy if he starts for the rest of the season. I just want an accurate QB who can help the Niners win. I thought JG could do that, so I never advocated that Kaep supplant him. Yet, when JG tore his ACL, and CJB struggled, I felt perfectly fine advocating for Kaep, because he would be light years better than CJB.
                .
                Now, I will wish Kaep well, and hope he plays again, so he can prove his detractors wrong. Just not on the Niners. The Jags, or Broncos may be his best landing spot. The Bills are a train wreck, and since they think Drek and Peterman were superior to Kaep, I hope they keep losing.

  5. We all know PFF is not the greatest at evaluating how an Offensive lineman performs. However, if you look at the end of year grades they typically line up with the best players at the position.
    Currently, McGlinchey is the highest graded rookie Olineman and is ranked 7th among all Offensive Tackles. He also grades out higher than Joe Staley (ranked 12th), who appears to be on the downside of his career.
    While Grant says the Tackles are inconsistent, in today’s NFL they are one of the better tandems in the NFL at the position group.

    Per PFF
    “McGlinchey currently ranks seventh among the 80 offensive tackles who’ve played at least 100 offensive snaps this season in terms of overall grade, and he’s really come into form in the last month, earning grades of 77.0 or better in three of his last four games. McGlinchey has been a force in the run game this season, as his 88.6 run- blocking grade leads all tackles, he’s one of just three tackles to own a run blocking grade greater than 80.0. He’s had some issues in pass protection, but the ninth overall pick has taken some big strides in that department, allowing two or fewer pressures in four of his last five games.”

      1. I knew it was a critical coin flip by the expression on Gruden’s face after the fact. I knew they wanted the same player after the 49ers drafted McGlinchey and Gruden traded back for the inferior prospect, Kolton Miller….

  6. The WR group is not an F group. Goodwin is very good. Taylor may be hurt so it’s hard to tell with him. Garcon does look like his time may be up. The issue with the WR group is the injury disruptions to JG and McKinnon. IMO the 49ers do need to find a quality #1 WR but those guys don’t grow on trees. This current group of WR is a good but not great group.

  7. Ok KS let’s hear it , today’s the day you tell the world you made a mistake trotting CJB out there all these wasted games and your going with Mullens from here on out

  8. OT, but very important.
    .
    I wish to urge every American to vote today.
    .
    America has always been great, but today, I hope we restore the honor of our nation.
    .
    Good luck to all, even you, Razor.

  9. My Early Voting:

    #5)Deionte Thompson, FS, Alabammy
    #37)Oshane Ximines, Edge, Old Dominion
    #69)Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
    #101)Bobby Evans, OT, Oklahoma

    1. I prefer the idea of taking a Corner high with the idea of either signing Ward or bringing someone in for the FS slot……. Sherman and Witherspoon are both essentially questionable at this point for performance or health reasons and I believe priorities are CB and Edge.

      I would like to see what the rookies can do in the secondary for part of the balance of the season. Hopefully, Staley gives the 49ers 2-3 more.

      Thx for the college scouting – I don’t watch much so enjoy reading your guy’s thoughts there.

      Did you catch Accept?

      1. I did, 2nd row dead center. Great show as per usual. Got their setlist from the stage up on the wall. (21 songs) St. Charles is a very quaint city, and always enjoy taking a walk down the river walkway afterward toking as I go….

        1. They did 3 shows in LA, all small venues- they were a bit curious to have some tables down front w people sitting- yes, true story.
          Fun as always- Fast as a Shark was the highlight for me, but Breaker is probably my favorite Accept song.

            1. I like Mark and he fits the band perfectly, just am partial to the old stuff. I didn’t realize Peter was living in Pennsylvania- interesting if still true. I like that him and Wolf clearly enjoy playing – I felt that Maiden goes through the motions a lot……. and prefer to go to small venues.

              1. Peter is super cool. I’ve got to buy him a beer and chat with him a couple times. Real down to earth. So’s Mark. I find it somewhat embarrassing that they have to play these small venues here in America, when they’re so used to playing such large ones in Europe. Just grateful that they make the effort to reward us fans over here….

            2. I am hoping to in the next year or two get to Europe to see a Maiden show….. maybe Y&T when they tour there and would like to see Accept as well- I wonder if they are better received in Germany than Scorpions?

              1. They play a lot of dates in Germany, that’s for sure. Accept is the headliner on the 70,000 Tons Of Metal Cruise in 2019 too. My dream is to catch all the summer big festivals in europe. Wacken, Hellfest, Graspop, Metal Days, Bang Your Head, and Midgardsblot!

      1. Not sure Baker fits the size requirements they’re looking for at the position. I think if they add to the secondary with their first pick, it’s gonna be the most important position to the defensive scheme, and that’s FS and Deionte Thompson. Remember, they already drafted the heir apparent to Sherman in Moore and Witherspoon seems to be making baby steps in the right direction….

  10. I’ll give you a head start with your coaching grades.

    Bleacher Report, 11/6/18:

    “It may be a miserable season in San Francisco, but fans should be grateful that Shanahan is the head coach.”

    Sobleski couldn’t agree more:

    “Kudos to quarterback Nick Mullens and head coach Kyle Shanahan for stellar performances on the national stage. Mullens threw for three touchdowns Thursday and posted a quarterback rating of 151.9—the highest from a quarterback with at least 20 pass attempts in his first start since 1970. His performance showed two things. First, Mullens came prepared and is far more talented than most third-string quarterbacks. Second, Shanahan has a beautiful mind when it comes to designing an offensive game plan. Both will serve the 49ers well in the coming weeks.”

    The fact of the matter is ….. it’s a widely held belief throughout NFL circles that Kyle Shanahan is doing the best job anyone realistically could, or should expect, given the dire circumstances which have derailed his 2nd season at the helm. I’ve yet to hear one credible NFL analyst outside of this blog (but if somebody can link me to another credible source claiming Kyle should be on the hot seat, please do), claim Kyle Shanahan’s job could be, or should be in jeopardy, despite being 1+ seasons removed from taking over a roster widely considered one of the least talented, if not THE least talented rosters in the entire league, and then losing his franchise QB during the 3rd week of the season, seemingly just as the team was finding their offensive form (and one of the hottest QB’s in the league, who just so happens to hold a 10-1 record [with 1 game undecided] as a starting NFL QB) and only 3 1/2 weeks after losing his featured RB (and prized FA signing) to the same kind of injury.

    There you go Grant, there’s your blueprint for grading Kyle Shanahan’s 2018 season so far.

    1. “and one of the hottest QB’s in the league, who just so happens to hold a 10-1 record [with 1 game undecided]”

      You need to take a math class.

      It’s also funny that you continue to say the KC game was undecided. They never got within 11 during the 2nd half and were down 14 when he got hurt and the offense never touched the ball again after that possession.

      1. Garoppolo was on the doorstep to make it a one possession game with well over 5 minutes remaining, and 3 timeouts, at the time of his injury. If you’ve been watching modern day NFL games for any time at all Jack, you’d know that the 49ers were very much in that game before Jimmy tore his ACL.

        My bad on his record as a starter:

        Garoppolo was 2-0 as a starter in New England,
        5-0 as a starter for the 49ers last season,
        and 1-1 with 1 undecided this year, prior to injury.

        So Garoppolo is 8-1 with 1 undecided as a starter. I guess that makes him replaceable, right Hammer, because it’s easy to find NFL QB’s who have a career winning percentage close to 85%, through 10 starts?

        How exactly do you phrase it Jack, plug in replace, or something ridiculous like that? SMH!

  11. I’m begining to worry, I have been agreeing with Grant way too much lately. I pretty much agree with your grades, I would have graded the QB’s a little lower D- and would have given the WR’s an incomplete because of poor QB play. Other than that we are on the same page.

    1. The entire offense has been affected by poor QB play which is why it’s pointless to give out grades. Grant has to have something to write about for content though so I get it.

  12. Wishing Grant would put some effort into evaluating position coaches–objectively if possible (ha!). Most on this blog have long concluded that Lynch, Shanahan, and Saleh are deceitful, incompetent buffoons. And then there’s Jed but let’s not go there yet. Too, players have taken their lumps–except THE Hall of Famer du jour…

    What about the position coaches? Are they great? Horrible? Barely adequate?

  13. didn’t one of the murph and mac guys rip into JED a couple years ago,
    during an on the air interview ?
    it didn’t do any good.
    but yet, we get these love letters………

  14. wait a second!!!! the pictures say something………
    is JED York really Grant’s father ???
    I want a dna test……..jerry!jerry!jerry!

    1. Yes, they should. With Mostert out for the year he would provide a nice foil for Breida and basically costs nothing.

      1. I think I’d prefer Wilson because he’s the most familiar with the scheme. Never was a big fan of Abdullah although I know MWD liked him….

        1. I like Abdullah cause he is proven and probably has the biggest chip on his shoulder.
          There’s nothing better than a RB who runs angry!

            1. Yup, they should go with Albert Wilson, since he knows the playbook better.
              .
              Ball security jeopardized his job security.

    2. “The Detroit Lions on Tuesday signed wide receiver Bruce Ellington and waived Ameer Abdullah, the team’s leading rusher last season and their former second-round pick.”

      Ellington…..the ex 9er.

  15. The O-line deserves a better grade. A 1000 foot high reading of the stats isn’t a good indicator of the O-line’s production. Unlike in years past when we could see O-lineman after O-lineman simply get straight up beaten for a sack. Most of the sacks this year have been due to very slow reads by the QB or bad footwork by the QB and some of said the receivers haven’t been getting open (I’d argue that the plays called and the routes run weren’t timed well for the fast pass rush and blitzing the Niners were facing).

    The receivers have made some plays. Not many…but they certainly don’t deserve an F. Maybe a D or a C- if I’m feeling generous. It’s hard to get production from a receiver position if the QB isn’t getting the ball to them or the routes called aren’t good ones against the defense. I mean yeah…they need to improve the position…but an F is too harsh IMO.

    1. Blood and soil Razor? Keep an eye on the black helicopters….

      So, how do you see the 9ers approaching free agency this offseason–now that Lynch and Shanahan have two complete seasons in the bag?

      1. I think it’s a safe bet that they go after an edge player like Clowney, (unlikely available) or Dee Ford, (likely available).

        1. Razor,
          I agree one big time edge rusher in FA and their 1st pick in the draft will be spent on an edge rusher and all of a sudden they will jump up 10 to 15 spots on D.

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