Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus put together his gradebook for the 49ers Week 1 win over the Dallas Cowboys. I'll be getting these gradebooks every week and while I can't share the whole thing, I'll pull out some interesting tidbits. PFF charges for their premium service, so it would not be fair to give it all away. They also have a free access re-focus article each week.
As I've said before, no one stat or grade or measurement is the be-all, end-all when analyzing performance. However, each stat can provide a little something extra to figuring out the bigger picture. If you get a minute, I highly recommend reading this 2-part series (Part 1, Part 2) at our Eagles blog, taking a look at their system.
You don't really need PFF grades or stats to know Brooks had a bad day. He had a sack in the third quarter, but it should surprise nobody that his three first quarter penalties offset that just a little bit. He finished with a -5.5 grade, with -2.8 of that coming from penalties, and -1.4 coming from run defense. The 49ers got Aaron Lynch quite a bit of work, as he finished with 20 snaps, and managed what could become a patented pass deflection.
Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin
The 49ers quarterback finished with his highest PFF grade (3.7) since his Week 8 2013 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although Kap did not get in a ton of work, his scoring drives showed off the total package he brings to the table. We saw him evade pressure, we saw him scramble, and we saw that absolutely laser arm. PFF tracks use of play-action, and they had Kap using it on 4 of his 24 dropbacks. That 16.7 percent compares to 28.1 percent last season. It is probably a little too early to draw any conclusions from that.
It seems like each game he finds a different favorite receiver. This week it was Anquan Boldin, who finished the game with eight receptions for 99 yards. Six of Boldin's eight receptions resulted in first downs. Boldin ran 22 total routes, with 14 coming in the slot. Crabtree ran five of his 22 routes from the slot, while Stevie Johnson and Brandon Lloyd ran all their routes from the slot.
We'll have more on Cowboy, but he looked particularly good, in his first regular season game since offseason shoulder surgery. Smith was the highest graded member of the 49ers, thanks to a pair of sacks and great work against the run. The 49ers run defense as a whole struggled against the run, but we can't lay that at the feet of Smith. His 5.0 grade was his highest PFF grade since Week 11 2012. That was a few weeks before he tore his triceps muscle against the New England Patriots. This year marks the first time he has really been fully healthy since then, and it showed on Sunday.
The 49ers did some solid work on the ground, but the most interesting thing to me was that they ran 18 of their 25 runs outside the tackles. They gained 74 of their 127 yards on those runs, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Given the offensive line questions, I want to track that and see if we see any changes in the coming weeks.
As we saw, it was a fairly solid game from the secondary. Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver at -0.9 and -0.1, respectively, but they also played relatively limited snaps. Dontae Johnson finished with the second best grade behind Justin Smith, while Perrish Cox finished right around the middle of the pack. According to PFF, Johnson allowed three receptions for 28 yards, and one touchdown, and had two pass deflections. Cox allowed two receptions for 65 yards, with the 56-yards pass to Dwayne Harris being the worst of the day.