Report Card: 49ers at Rams


The ship stays afloat.

This current 49ers team – one without key players on both sides of the ball – is full of moxie. They’re underrated, but often produce results against the odds. Monday was no different.

The predatory Red Fog rolled into St. Louis and claimed another victim. The victory was anything but pretty, yet it was predictable. The 49ers won in a manner unique to themselves, grinding out a win following a sub-par start.

Report Card: 49ers at Rams

Quarterback: A+

Colin Kaepernick has his doubters:

“He’s inaccurate.”

“More like Kaeperpick.”

For at least one night, silence ruled the land.

The dynamic quarterback had 381-yards of total offense, guiding his 49ers to a 31-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams.

His only bad throw came on the first play of the game on a slant that was an uncalled defensive pass interference against Alec Ogletree of the Rams.

After that, Kaepernick played the role of pocket passer as well as anyone in the league. His feet were planted – not displaying the “jumpiness” we’re accustomed to – and he threw with confidence.

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Echoing past comments regarding Kaepernick, I still believe he’s one of the game’s elite talents, especially when it all comes together. Consistency is an issue with Kaepernick, but Monday night was his best overall performance as a quarterback.

Most importantly, he was a quarterback first and a running back second in this standout performance.

Running Back: C

Neither Frank Gore nor Carlos Hyde performed well yesterday, but with a different offensive approach than in past seasons, there will be more games like this to come – games where the focus is to move the ball through the air.

Hence, it’s difficult to blame Gore or Hyde for their clunkers. The offensive line offered no space for the two to operate in, leading to a yards per carry average of 3.0. The 49ers averaged 145.0 yards per game coming into Monday’s game, but left St. Louis with only 89-yards rushing added to their tally.

The Niners still rushed the ball 30 times. This offense is slightly modified, but the rushing attack will always be its foundation.

Wide Receiver: A

A great performance by the entire unit.

Anquan Boldin is the true number one receiver in this offense. He found soft spots in the Rams’ zone coverage throughout the night and hauled in two key third down receptions to keep the offense moving.

The play of the game came on a double move by Brandon Lloyd with only :15 remaining in the first half with the Niners down 14-3. Lloyd burned the Rams’ Janoris Jenkins along the left sideline for an 80-yard score, crushing any momentum the Rams had going into the half.

Michael Crabtree put the game away for the Niners on a gorgeous 32-yard score with only seconds left in the third quarter. It was a thing of beauty, and a reminder of Crabtree’s ability when healthy. He ran a triple move on deep post route, burning E.J. Gaines for an easy score.

It’s easy to love the run, but the wide receiver unit carried the offense on Monday.

Tight End: D-

Vernon Davis was rusty, dropping two passes and playing slower than anticipated. I don’t believe we’ll see Vernon reach 100% until after the 49ers’ bye week (Week 8). He also killed a drive with a false start penalty.

Vance McDonald fumbled on a key drive early in the game. The turnover lead to a Rams touchdown, forcing the Niners into a deep hole – 14-0 – in the first quarter. 

The game is still too big for Vance; you can see the eagerness whenever he takes the field. The fumble could have been avoided had he not run full speed into a group of defenders. This awareness will come over time, but Derek Carrier seems the better option at backup at this point.

Offensive Line: C+

They didn’t allow a sack the entire game. Being said, the Rams had just one sack entering the game. It was a great job in pass protection, but not exactly a miracle.

The run blocking was atrocious. The Rams – primarily Aaron Donald and William Hayes – lived in the backfield. The Rams had six tackles for loss in the game.


Joe Staley, Daniel Kilgore, and Joe Looney were all penalized. Staley accrued just three penalties in the entire 2013 season. He already has four this year.

Was this a bad effort? Not at all. But the penalties must end and this team needs to find a way to get each facet of their game working in harmony.

Defensive Line: A-

Zac Stacy was held to just 17-yards rushing in the game. The Niners had trouble defending Tre Mason and Tavon Austin – they combined for 56-yards rushing on just eight carries – and it surprised me when Rams trended away from them.

Ian Williams had his best game of the season with six tackles, one for a loss.

It was a great overall effort by the defensive line.

Food for thought: Will Tank Carradine ever play?

Linebacker: A

I still want an avarice pass-rush, but I won’t complain about a five-sack effort. Dan Skuta and Ahmad Brooks each had two sacks, with Antonie Bethea netting the other. Skuta could have had another, but the play was negated by a penalty.

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And of course, another key piece to this defense left the game due to injury. Patrick Willis left the game after injuring his toe in the second half. He’s scheduled for an MRI later this afternoon, per Ed Werder of ESPN.

Chris Borland filled in for Willis and played well, but with the Broncos next on the schedule, one has to believe the defense will struggle against Peyton Manning without its defensive captain manning the middle of the field.

Secondary: A

Bethea produced his best game of the season, and Perrish Cox continues to play like Dick “Night Train” Lane.

Bethea lead the 49ers in tackles, had a sack, and lead the defense after Willis’s departure.

Jimmie Ward left with a quad injury and did not return, but Chris Cook and Dontae Johnson stepped up in his absence. The latter stamped out the game with a pick six late in the fourth quarter.

This unit started slowly, but they regrouped and produced an excellent game in the end.

Special Teams: A

Ward had a blocked punt in the game and Andy Lee pinned the Rams within the 20-yard line on four different occasions. Phil Dawson drilled his lone attempt from 54-yards.

It was a steady performance from a unit that has struggled up to this point in the season.

Coaching: A

The Niners deserved to lose this game. They came out flat and found themselves in a big hole.

But they stuck to their offensive identity and didn’t panic.

Credit to Greg Roman and Vic Fangio for sticking to the game plan. The offense didn’t abandon the run after falling behind, and the defense settled in and found ways to produce three-and-outs after stumbling early.

Jim Harbaugh has this team moving forward.

On to Denver.