49ers

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense after 27-9 loss to Bucs

49ers report card: Grades on offense, defense after 27-9 loss to Bucs

TAMPA, Fla. -- The 49ers dispute the notion that the early morning release of linebacker Reuben Foster had any impact on Sunday’s game.

Foster, who did not play in the final two games before the bye week because of a hamstring injury, would not have played in the 49ers’ 27-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, coach Kyle Shanahan said.

Emotionally, the 49ers claimed they were not distracted. The team announced the decision Sunday morning to release Foster after he spent the night in jail, arrested for probable cause in a domestic incident at the team hotel involving his on-again-off-again girlfriend.

[RELATED: Shanahan speaks on dismissal of Foster]

So there was no excuse for another poor performance as the 49ers dropped to 2-9 on the season:

Rushing Offense

The run game was good ... except for when it mattered most. Matt Breida returned to his hometown and put together his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, with 106 yards on 14 carries. But when the 49ers needed a touchdown in the third quarter to pull even, Breida and quarterback Nick Mullens were stopped on back-to-back plays from inside the 1-yard line. Then, before a fourth-down play, George Kittle was called for a false start to force the 49ers to settle for a field goal.

Grade: B

Passing Offense

The Bucs entered the game with only one interception in 10 games, but Mullens was picked off twice while completing 18 of 32 passes for 221 yards. Dante Pettis had a good showing with four catches for 77 yards and one touchdown.

The 49ers struggled on third downs, converting just one of their eight opportunities. The pass protection, which had been good, also faltered. Mullens was sacked four times for minus-27 yards.

“I don’t think he played very well,” Shanahan said of Mullens. “I mean, just looking at some of our situations. But it wasn’t all him. No one played very well, especially in the passing game.”

Grade: F

Rushing Defense

The 49ers’ run defense continues to be one of the team’s strengths, as Fred Warner and Elijah Lee tied for team-high honors with seven tackles apiece. The Bucs' leading rusher, Peyton Barber, gained just 47 yards and one touchdown on 18 rushing attempts.

Grade: B-plus

Passing Defense

There is no question Jameis Winston will get another start, thanks to the 49ers’ pass defense. Winston threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 117.4. The 49ers managed only one sack and could not keep Winston contained in the backfield despite some pressure. 

Richard Sherman was tested for the first time this season, and he surrendered a 42-yard pass to Mike Evans. Ahkello Witherspoon’s play was an improvement over the pre-bye game against the New York Giants, but he was flagged for a 23-yard penalty for pass interference.

Grade: D-minus

Special Teams

Robbie Gould missed an extra point, and the 49ers were called for three penalties on special teams. Punter Bradley Pinion and the coverage unit had a solid day, but not as good as Bucs punter Bryan Anger. The 49ers’ average starting spot after six kickoffs was the 22-yard line.

Grade: D

Overall

In a dreary season, this game was about as bad as it can get.

At least the 49ers didn't have to worry about blowing a fourth-quarter lead this time. After the 49ers failed to score from short range in the third quarter, the Bucs blew the game open with touchdowns on back-to-back drives.

There were some bright spots scattered throughout, namely Breida, but the vast majority of the team had sub-par performances.

Grade: F

Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

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Why Le'Veon Bell unlikely to be right fit for 49ers in NFL free agency

The 49ers spent big money on a running back in free agency last year. But the contract Jerick McKinnon signed doesn't even compare to the kind of deal that would satisfy scheduled free agent Le’Veon Bell.

McKinnon signed a four-year, $29.75 million deal with the 49ers in 2018. Bell, meanwhile, refused to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season for $14.5 million on the team's franchise tag.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that the organization would not place the franchise tag on Bell again this year. So, Bell is scheduled to be available to any team as an unrestricted free agent in mid-March.

Don't expect the 49ers to get seriously involved, though, said former NFL quarterback Chris Simms, an NBC Sports analyst and close friend of 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan.

“That’s a position where Kyle, the Shanahans in general, look at and go, ‘I can get more out of that position than the normal guy; I don’t need to waste money to get a special player there to get special results,’ ” Simms said on The 49ers Insider Podcast.

“Their offense, their design, can get special results as long as the player doesn’t have any huge, glaring weaknesses. Yeah, I’d be shocked if Le’Veon Bell ended up on the 49ers.”

McKinnon missed all of last season after sustaining a torn ACL one week before the start of the regular season. McKinnon is on pace to be cleared for the start of training camp -- if not sooner -- according to general manager John Lynch.

[RELATED: If 49ers add running back, who falls off the depth chart?]

In McKinnon's absence, the 49ers turned to Matt Breida, Alfred Morris, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson. Breida led the way with 814 yards with a 5.3-yard average. Breida, Morris, Mostert and Wilson combined for 1,769 yards with a 4.9 average.

Bell, 27, gained 1,291 yards (4.0 average) and nine touchdowns while catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. McKinnon, 26, gained 570 yards (3.8 average) and three touchdowns with 51 catches for 421 yards and three TDs in 2017 as a part-time player with the Minnesota Vikings.

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey offers NBA stars another way to show solidarity

Recently, some prominent NBA stars have come out in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, displaying their solidarity in different manners.

The Warriors' Kevin Durant, for instance, donned a black No. 7 jersey to and from a recent game at Oracle Arena, bearing the phrase "#IMWITHKAP" on the chest.

Steph Curry, wearing the same attire, recently posed for a photo with his son Canon.

The Lakers' LeBron James wore a nearly identical jersey getting off the plane when he and Los Angeles made the trip to Oracle to face Golden State earlier this month.

James took his support of Kaepernick a step further when he was asked about Kaepernick's reported settlement with the NFL at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.

[RELATED: NFL compensating Colin Kaepernick for not playing football]

If Durant, Curry and James -- or anyone else for that matter -- like the black-and-white look, and want to show further solidarity for Kaepernick, well, they're in luck.

On Wednesday, Nike announced the release of a limited-edition Colin Kaepernick 'Icon' jersey -- the same one James wore as a tease getting off the plane in Oakland. As Kaepernick explained in a tweet, the jersey is dedicated to "those true to themselves on and off the field. Proudly, unapologetically and against all odds."

"We believe Colin Kaepernick is one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation, who has leveraged the power of sport to help move the world forward,” a Nike spokesperson told The Undefeated. “The jersey marks Nike’s continued product collaboration with Colin."

The NFL logo is notably absent from the jersey, which should not come as a surprise given Kaepernick's recent litigation with the league. 20 percent of all proceeds from the sale of the jerseys will go to the Know Your Rights Camp he founded, which raises awareness for youth "on higher education, self-empowerment and instruction on how to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios."

So, if you're in the market for a new black-and-white look, or simply want to show more support for Kaepernick, there are certainly worse ways you could spend your money.