The 49ers defeated the Saints 31-21 on Sunday afternoon. Here are the grades for the offense:
Colin Kaepernick: A-
The only reason this grade isn’t an “A” is because of the interception he threw and a few clock management mistakes which forced timeouts. He was intimidated early on by the crowd noise and couldn’t communicate to the team. The best thing was Kaepernick being elusive the entire game whenever the Saints were able to get pressure on him. He was never sacked by the Saints’ defense and made some key throws on third down. The drive to begin the fourth quarter really put a silence on the crowd where he made important throws to Michael Crabtree and Delanie Walker. His arm didn’t have to do everything, but he was great at keeping plays alive and making plays when needed.
Running Backs: B
This was not the greatest game by the running backs, but it wasn’t a mess where the team was forced to throw the ball. Frank Gore was ineffective in the first half, but finished strong with a touchdown catch in the second half. Kendall Hunter had four effective carries which kept the chains moving. He showed why he’s valuable as an RB behind Gore. Bruce Miller also had three catches in the game which were crucial for first downs. Hunter and Gore combined for more than 20 carries again to keep the team undefeated when both players reach that benchmark.
Wide Receivers: C+
The wide receivers were not as active this game as in the past. Michael Crabtree had three catches for 26 yards and should’ve had a fourth if it weren’t for a penalty. One of his catches was on third down for a conversion. Mario Manningham was involved early on with a 40-yard reception. He finished with five receptions for 69 yards leading all receivers. Randy Moss and Kyle Williams were unable to catch a ball.
Tight Ends: B+
For the second time in five games, Vernon Davis failed to record a catch. He had one reception that was called back by a penalty. Delanie Walker led the 49ers with three catches for 81 yards. He made the biggest catch of the game with a 45-yard reception on a third down to put the 49ers in field goal range. That drive ended any hope of the Saints making a comeback.
Offenisve Line: B-
This was not a great performance by the offensive line. They were constant at giving up pressure to Colin Kaepernick for most of the game. Kaepernick was able to bail them out with his awareness and mobility to prevent any sacks. The one positive from this unit was the run blocking which prevented the 49ers from depending on Kaepernick’s arm. Penalties from the offensive line negated several potential plays from the 49ers. Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis both had catches that were called back due to holding penalties. Mike Iupati also negated a touchdown run by Frank Gore.
The involvement of Vernon Davis was very minimal this time around, but the faith Greg Roman put in Kaepernick was full. Like last week, the 49ers showed they weren’t going to only run the ball, but throw it deep when needed knowing Kaepernick has an arm. The 49ers are no longer running the ball most of the time and can mix it up when necessary. This was a well-balanced attack by the coaches.