The 49ers beat the Cardinals 27-13 on Sunday afternoon. Here are the grades for the defense and special teams:
Defensive line: B
In the first half, the Cardinals were able to run the ball with William Powell. The gaps were completely closed in the second half thanks to Issac Sopoaga when the Cardinals had nothing on the ground. Ricky Jean Francois did a good job at earning a sack and had several tackles to stop the running game. Ray McDonald forced a fumble which resulted in a turnover.
Like the defensive line, the linebackers had a shaky first half, but strong second half. Powell averaged 4.2 yards on the ground in the first half. The linebackers woke up in the second half with the running game of the Cardinals being eliminated and they did well in coverage for short plays. NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis only combined for eight tackles, but were often covering parts of the open field. Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith didn’t get pressure to Brian Hoyer in the first half, but in the second half they had several knockdowns. Brooks was able to record a sack in the third quarter.
In the first half, the secondary allowed two big plays to Michael Floyd, but the damage was limited. Floyd’s numbers were mostly padded in garbage time which included a touchdown on a fourth and 24. Tarell Brown had a great game which included two broken passes and an interception. Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver were beaten a few times, but nothing was dampening as Larry Fitzgerald was held to two receptions for 13 yards. Hoyer was unable to make plays in the second half when the 49ers had solid coverage on the Cardinals’ receivers.
Special Teams: C-
David Akers missed two field goals from 40 and 44 yards in the second quarter. He made up for it when he made a 43-yard field goal in the third quarter and also hit a chip shot 26-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Andy Lee was below his season average when he averaged 46 yards per punt.
The kick and punt coverage units were spot on and didn’t allow any long returns. Ted Ginn Jr. let a punt bounce to the 1-yard line and made a few nerve-wrecking fair catches, but he redeemed himself with a 28-yard punt return later in the game. LaMichael James notably had a kick return for 33 yards.
The 49ers were beaten in the first quarter, but great adjustments by Vic Fangio worked to perfection. The Cardinals had no signs of offense for the rest of the game until it was garbage time. In the second half, the Cardinals started with two three-and-out possessions and the 49ers later forced two turnovers. It was an all-around great defense for the the last three quarters.