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' offense remains calm on game-winning drive vs. Saints

49ers' offense remains calm on game-winning drive vs. Saints

NEW ORLEANS -- Drew Brees and the high-powered New Orleans Saints offense left too much time on the clock for 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle on Sunday.

The 49ers’ defense, which has been dominant this season, could not protect the team’s lead late in the game. New Orleans marched 76 yards on seven plays to take the lead on Brees’ 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith.

But the 49ers still had 53 seconds to respond. And it turned out to be more than enough.

The offense came up big, setting the stage for Robbie Gould’s 30-yard field goal as time expired for a 48-46 victory over the Saints at the Superdome.

“It wasn’t anything different than usual,” Garoppolo said. “I thought everybody was calm on the sideline. We were all in a good state of mind. We went out there and executed. That’s really what it comes down to in those situations -- execution.”

A week earlier, the 49ers failed on a fourth-and-1 pass play in the late stages of their 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Again, the 49ers faced a critical fourth-down play with less than a minute remaining with the Saints leading by one point.

“Coach Shanahan said as an offense we feel like we lost the game last week,” Kittle said. “Fourth-and-1, we just couldn’t get it done. We have to learn to not put our defense in those positions. I think we did that today.

“It came down to us having to win the game, and I’m just happy we could get it done.”

Faced with a fourth-and-2 situation from their own 33, the 49ers had to use a timeout to set up the play because of difficulty dealing with the crowd noise.

“The guys kept battling,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “We had to call a timeout right before. It was hard to hear the right play calls in the huddle just because they couldn’t hear through the microphone. I had to use a timeout there, and it quieted down so we could call that. It ended up being worth it because Kittle made a hell of a route, broke that tackle and taking it down the sideline.”

Garoppolo hit Kittle on a pass play for the first down when he got open with an outbreaking route against rookie C.J. Gardner-Johnson. After Kittle slipped through Gardner-Johnson’s tackle attempt, Kittle set his sights on safety Marcus Williams.

“Once he caught it and turned upfield and squared the guy up, I didn’t know what he was going to do, but I knew the guy was in a bad situation on the other side,” Garoppolo said. “George is a beast with the ball in his hands, so it’s just get him the ball in space, let him go to work.”

When it was over, Kittle had rumbled 39 yards while carrying Williams for the final 20 yards with him. Williams finally brought Kittle down with the use of his facemask to add another 15 yards onto the play to set up Gould’s short field-goal attempt.

“George is a beast,” 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “It took them to almost rip his neck off for them to bring him down. He’s the best in the world.”

[RELATED: Kittle fulfills promise to Yorks with 49ers' win in NOLA]

Veteran tackle Joe Staley said the game reminded him of the playoff matchup against the Saints at Candlestick Park in January 2012. There were four lead changes in the final four minutes of that game. The 49ers took over trailing with 97 seconds remaining and pulled off the 36-32 victory on Alex Smith’s last-second touchdown pass to Vernon Davis.

“It was kind of eerie how they scored late and we still had that time to come down and get some points,” Staley said. “We were fortunate we had enough time left on the clock. And we were able to execute ... and we got George Kittle.”

49ers' Tarvarius Moore knew about pass interference rule on fake punt

49ers' Tarvarius Moore knew about pass interference rule on fake punt

The Saints, their coach and their fans were quite upset at a controversial moment in Sunday's loss to the 49ers, and really, who could blame them? After the way the NFC Championship game ended last year, it's going to take decades for those feelings of being cheated to wear off.

This time, though, their complaints didn't hold any water.

Late in the third quarter, New Orleans opted for a fake punt, as swiss-army knife Taysom Hill took the snap before launching a long pass down the right sideline intended for receiver Tre'Quan Smith. Smith, however, was absolutely blanketed by 49ers defensive back Tarvarius Moore, and the pass fell incomplete. No penalty flag was thrown, as boos rained down from Mercedez-Benz Superdome. Saints coach Sean Payton vehemently protested what he viewed as a blown call to the officials, but in fact, he was in the wrong, and the officials ruled correctly.

Per NFL rules, there is no such thing as pass interference in that situation.

"This is absolutely the correct ruling," Fox Sports rules analyst Dean Blandino explained on the telecast. "When you're in a punt formation and you attempt a fake, you can't have pass interference on the widest man on either side of the formation."

Unlike the vast majority of New Orleans, apparently, Moore knew the correct rule, and took advantage of it.

If that particular rule didn't exist, teams could just run fake punts every single time and be basically guaranteed of extending their drive. The defenders blocking the outside gunners on punt coverage have no way of seeing the developing play behind them, and thus are at too great of a disadvantage for that rule not to be in place.

Cameras later appeared to catch Payton calling for a holding penalty, rather than pass interference. Holding is possible on a punt play, so the officials could have called that, but they didn't, and it's not a reviewable penalty.

[RELATED: Shanahan used Saints' own play against them in 49ers' win]

And really, if the Saints still want to act like they got screwed because of a missed holding penalty, they aren't going to get much sympathy, considering that happens on just about every play during an NFL game.

You don't necessarily have to agree with the rules, but you do have to play by them. Obviously, it helps to know what they are.