49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 9-0 win vs. Washington

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense in 9-0 win vs. Washington

LANDOVER, Md. – You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in the 49ers’ locker room that was dissatisfied with the club’s 9-0 victory over Washington on Sunday.

The game mirrored the conditions. It was sloppy. The offenses had a difficult time slogging their way through, but each team committed only one turnover apiece. The closest Washington came to scoring all day was on the first drive.

The 49ers finished strong with three consecutive possessions that ended with field goals. The 49ers will take their 6-0 record home to face the Carolina Panthers next week at Levi’s Stadium.

But, first, here are the grades from the 49ers’ sixth consecutive victory to open the season.

Rushing offense

Matt Breida averaged 4.4 yards per rushing attempt before leaving the game after getting poked in the eye. Tevin Coleman had difficulty finding any holes, as Washington stacked the box and held him to 62 yards on 20 rushing attempts.

Jimmy Garoppolo scrambled for a career-high 20 rushing yards. The best thing about the team’s running game is they held onto the ball.

Grade: B-minus

Passing offense

Garoppolo had just 10 yards passing at halftime, but things opened up a little in the second half, as he threw for 141 yards in the final 30 minutes of the game.

Garoppolo made one play in each of the 49ers’ three scoring drives that contributed to all of the team’s points. Richie James caught a 40-yard pass on third down to set up the first field goal. Garoppolo converted a fourth-down pass to a diving Ross Dwelley on the next drive, and finally Garoppolo hit George Kittle for a big third-down conversion on the final scoring drive.

Garoppolo finished with 12 completions in 21 attempts for 151 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked twice for minus-5 yards.

Garoppolo’s interception came on a fourth-down play when he failed to look off deep safety Troy Apke before making the deep throw intended for Dante Pettis. (And Pettis certainly could have been more aggressive in going up after the pass.)

Kendrick Bourne led the 49ers with three receptions for 69 yards.

Grade: C

Rushing Defense

Just like a week ago, the 49ers had difficulty stopping the run on the first drive of the game. Washington opened with 10 consecutive running plays before finally throwing an incompletion on third down to set up a missed field-goal attempt.

After that, the 49ers’ run defense buckled down. Jullian Taylor and Ronald Blair teamed up to stop Adrian Peterson for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 run play from the 49ers’ 28-yard line.

Kwon Alexander and Taylor teamed up for a big play in the third quarter. Alexander forced a fumble of Peterson and Taylor recovered for the 49ers’ only takeaway of the game.

Grade: A

Passing Defense

The 49ers’ pass defense was dominant. Dee Ford, Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa registered quarterback sacks. And Washington quarterback Case Keenum managed just 77 yards passing while completing nine of 12 attempts.

Keenum’s biggest completion was a 19-yarder to wide receiver Trey Quinn.

[RELATED: Watch Bosa's slip-and-slide sack celly to end 49ers' win]

This performance came just one week after the 49ers held the Los Angeles Rams to 48 yards net passing. The 49ers gave up just 50 yards net passing to Washington. The 98 yards of net passing allowed over a two-week span are the fewest yards the 49ers have allowed in back-to-back games since 1977.

Grade: A-plus

Special Teams

After Robbie Gould missed a 45-yard attempt, the 49ers’ special teams did everything it needed to get the victory. Gould made kicks of 28, 22 and 28 yards for all the points in the team’s 9-0 win.

Mitch Wishnowsky was called on to punt just two times, but he averaged 47.0 yards with no returns. Richie James continues to do a fine job on punt returns, as he averaged 15 yards on his two attempts.

Grade: B


Let’s not forget that the 49ers were playing without six injured players who would ordinarily be active: fullback Kyle Juszczyk, receiver Deebo Samuel, offensive linemen Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, nose tackle D.J. Jones and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon.

The 49ers had their issues on offense, but a lot of that could likely be attributed to the field conditions. The defense continues to be outstanding. After solving their issues in the run game, the 49ers locked up the Washington offense.

It might not have been a thing of beauty, but there’s no such thing as a bad win on the road in the NFL.

Grade: A

49ers need to add wide receiver to give Jimmy Garoppolo another option

49ers need to add wide receiver to give Jimmy Garoppolo another option

NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might be good fits, along with some hidden gems in the later rounds. In this installment we examine why the 49ers have a need at wide receiver.

The class of wide receivers is strong at the top with more than a handful of expected first-round draft picks.

But what might separate the 2020 NFL Draft from other years is there could be a strong receiver available for nearly every team that wants one through the middle rounds, too.

“It’s a really good class,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. “You can kind of get whatever flavor you like.

“If you like smaller, quicker guys, those guys are there. If you like the big guys that can move, those guys are there. If you like speed, that's there. If you like separators. ... So, I think the whole league's kind of smiling about that.”

The 49ers need more contributing pass-catchers than last season, when coach Kyle Shanahan had trust in only three wide receivers toward the end of the season.

In the Super Bowl, 49ers wide receivers were on the field for a combined 140 snaps. Veteran Emmanuel Sanders, a mid-season pickup in a trade with the Denver Broncos, played 55 of the 49ers’ 58 offensive plays. Deebo Samuel was on the field for 51 offensive plays, followed by Kendrick Bourne (28) and Richie James (6).

Sanders signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent, which leaves the 49ers with a major hole to fill on offense.

The 49ers signed slot receiver Travis Benjamin to a one-year contract as a free agent. The club anticipates the returns of Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd after both players missed the entire season with injuries.

It will take a combination of players to compensate for what Sanders brought to the club throughout the second half of the season.

The 49ers own the Nos. 13 and 31 picks in the draft. And they could use that first selection on a wide receivers. The top options are Jerry Jeudy (Alabama), CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma) and Henry Ruggs (Alabama).

If the 49ers trade back from No. 13 or use their second first-rounder to select a wideout, Justin Jefferson (LSU), Tee Higgins (Clemson), Laviska Shenault Jr. (Colorado), Brandon Aiyuk (Arizona State) and Denzel Mims (Baylor) are among the possibilities.

[RELATED49ers Mailbag: Could Frank Gore or Delanie Walker return to franchise?]

Do the 49ers need to come out of his draft with a No. 1 wideout? Maybe not. Tight end George Kittle is the team’s No. 1 target, and Samuel is to be a good fit for the offense. Bourne proved to be reliable and could take on more responsibility, too.

The 49ers, however, can benefit from a player who can stress a defense, whether he’s a deep threat on the outside, a red-zone target or a reliable player working the middle of the field to give Jimmy Garoppolo another option on third downs.

This draft has plenty of options for whatever it is the 49ers desire.

Vernon Davis explains why 49ers responded to Jim Harbaugh as coach

Vernon Davis explains why 49ers responded to Jim Harbaugh as coach

From 2003 to 2010, the 49ers were a ship that was adrift in the ocean.

San Francisco went through four coaches during that span, until they hired Jim Harbaugh away from Stanford in 2011.

Harbaugh was a game-changer, and former 49ers tight end Vernon Davis explained why in a recent interview with Niners Nation.

"I think Harbaugh changed up the culture and the way we approached the game as a team," Davis told Jas Kang. "That’s what you’ll see throughout history of sports; sometimes it takes that. That’s what it took for us. A culture change in the way we approached the game. Not saying that coach Singletary and the rest of the group did a horrible job, they did a great job. But certain players and certain teams respond differently to certain coaches. That’s what happened to us; once Harbaugh came in, we were able to grow and transcend and play together. The synergy was there for us to be a championship team. We catapulted, and it all started to happen for us."

Before Harbaugh arrived, the 49ers went 46-82 with no NFL playoff appearances in eight seasons under Dennis Erickson, Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary and Jim Tomsula.

In Harbaugh's first season, the 49ers won 13 games and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game.

[RELATED: Davis explains emotions after "The Catch III']

The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl in Harbaugh's second season, but came up short against the Baltimore Ravens.

While Harbaugh couldn't finish the job, and was ultimately fired after his fourth season, he was the change the franchise needed nearly 10 years ago.