16 Jan 49ers Game Grades: A Tale of Two Halves
Giving out grades to position groups AND individual players is always a blast, considering the entire game needs to be taken into account. Had I written this after one the first half only, I’d be giving bad grades all around. Nonetheless, the San Francisco 49ers cleaned it up and took care of business against a Seattle Seahawks team that seemingly played with robust confidence, yet lacked the execution to stay in the game for 4 quarters. I’ll be giving out my grades to position groups and highlighting one player who stood out in each.
We all know the standout. After a relatively shaky first half (9/19, 147 yards 2 TDs) Brock Purdy adjusted and finished the 2nd half of the game 9/11 with 2 total TDs and 185 passing yards. The only thing holding me back from an A grade comes from the handful of missed throws early on. More than likely playoff jitters, and it being his 6th career start, but yet again, he played admirably. The SF offense continues to average over 30 PPG with him under center, and I don’t foresee the entire group slowing down anytime soon.
Outside of a beautiful 68-yard run by Christian McCaffrey, he and fellow running mate Elijah Mitchell were stymied on the ground by the Seattle defense all afternoon. Take away the longest carry, and CMC would’ve finished with 14 carries for 51 yards on the ground, while Mitchell finished with 9 carries for 2 yards. Ugly, but I’ll chalk it up to poor OL play, as well as familiarity of the Seattle defense to key in on what they know from Shanahan’s offense. It was Purdy and the passing attack that shouldered most of the load, so the RBs can get away with one relatively ugly performance. I fully expect this group to turn it around in the divisional matchup next weekend. Standout: CMC
The only group I thought that stayed consistent through the whole game, the trio of Jauan Jennings, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk continue to execute at an extremely high level. Purdy’s missed throws in the first half mostly were targeted to WRs that were open, with an occasional drop. Otherwise, this group continues to get open on their routes, and dominate after the catch, both a value of Shanahan’s scheme, as well as their ability to separate. Deebo Samuel made his presence known in the playoffs, exposing the Seahawks with 6 catches for 133 yards and 1 TD. Aiyuk finished with 3 catches, 73 yards (and a heartbreaking drop), while Jennings had 2 catches for 41 yards. Standout: Deebo Samuel
A pretty quiet day for the unit, as Purdy did not give too many looks to any of the three TEs that played this past Saturday. Kittle finished with a silent 2 catches for 23 yards, although he caught a 2-point conversion to help ice the game, while both Charlie Woerner and Tyler Kroft were not utilized in the passing game. Although this isn’t an issue, Kittle finally came down to Earth after his incredible stretch of play that resulted in 7 touchdowns over the span of the final 4 regular season games. Like the RBs, I expect Kittle to have a signature game at some point in the playoffs, as his rekindled ability with Purdy leading the offense cannot be overstated. Standout: George Kittle
It was a tale of two blocking tasks, as the 49ers OL was able to protect Purdy enough throughout the game to let him cook the Seahawks abhorrent secondary, while only allowing him to get sacked one time. However, the offensive line was very lackluster in attacking the front-7 of the Hawks. Although the rushing attack averaged 5.5 YPC, I feel this is misleading due to CMC’s monster 68-yard run. Take that away, and the unit would’ve ran for a meager 3.5 YPC. Regardless, SF has ran for over 100 yards as a team in 7 straight games, so the OL is executing. Familiarity is damning, and I think having to play Seattle 3 times is a huge factor. Look for the unit to be more aggressive in opening lanes, and continuing their dominant stretch of blocking. Standout: Trent Williams
Outside of Charles Omenihu’s game changing strip sack, the 49ers DL was getting pushed around by Seahawks RB Kenneth Walker and their OL for the majority of the game. This game was notable for Nick Bosa, as it was the first game in his career he did not record a pressure on the QB. In the first half, Seattle had a solid plan of attacking the 49ers DL, with Geno Smith keeping them off balance from his mobility, through play action and quick passing. In the 2nd half however, things turned quickly. The DL made proper adjustments and was able to contain Geno and the offense to 7 points. In my eyes, it’s felt like the DL has been inconsistent at hitting home, and this trend continued against Seattle. Let’s hope we see improvement next week against either Tampa Bay or Dallas. Standout: Charles Omenihu
It was a mixed bag of good and bad play from the LB unit, as we saw tackles being made from the unit that has been the story all season, while we did also see some poor tackling and failure to cover at times too. A poor angle by Greenlaw allowed an easy walk-in TD for Kenneth Walker. One thing of note: Fred Warner’s inconsistency in coverage. Having a down year, there were some lapses for Warner that resulted in 10–15-yard gains with him in coverage. Not that this is anything that’s concerning, but it has been a trend throughout the season. Warner is still having a monumental season; however, coverage lapses seem to be more apparent this season than previously. All very nitpicky things, but these mistakes need and should be cleaned as the 49ers’ playoff run runs deeper. Standout: Fred Warner
Prior to this game, I wrote an article stating that DC DeMeco Ryans should assist Deommodore Lenoir as much as possible. Boy was I wrong. Instead, DeMeco should’ve helped out Mooney Ward, who was getting eaten up by star WR D.K. Metcalf all afternoon. Lenoir on the other hand, was magnificent. Finishing with only 2 catches allowed, while also garnering an INT, Lenoir played the game of his life by shutting down both Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Both safeties Tashaun Gipson and Talanoa Hufanga did not have their names called much, which is always a good sign, as it usually means a big play was given up. Speaking of, this game was a rare OFF game for Mooney Ward, as he did not play his best. Getting burnt by Metcalf for a TD, Ward looked off all afternoon. Expect him to bounce back, as corners of his skill usually have that one “bad” game before it’s cleaned up entirely. Standout: Lenoir
Special Teams: A
Not much to say as usual, SF special teams allowed a couple of decent Seattle returns, but kept it clean otherwise. Robbie Gould continued to kick at a high level, and punter Mitch Wishnowsky didn’t make a mistake. This is the most we could ask for.