The San Francisco 49ers regressed this past week in a Monday Night Football loss to the New York Giants. They blew a ten-point lead, and dropped to 2-8 in the process. Nick Mullens had a solid second start, and Matt Breida was the star of the game.
Each week, people are curious about Pro Football Focus grades from the game that passed. I am not a huge fan of the subjective aspects of the grading, but they are fun discussion points, and we can figure out some context around the grades. Each week, I’ll take a look at the top five and bottom five graded players on both sides of the ball.
1. RB Matt Breida: 79.1 overall
2. LT Joe Staley: 77.1 overall, 72.3/76.8 pass/run block
3. QB Nick Mullens: 75.9 overall
4. C Weston Richburg: 67.6 overall, 79.8/63.1 pass/run block
5. TE George Kittle: 66.3 overall, 72.1 receiving, 73.9/53.7 pass/run block
17. TE Garrett Celek: 37.9 overall
16. WR Dante Pettis: 53.3 overall
15. RB Alfred Morris: 53.7 overall
14. WR Richie James: 56.3 overall
13. FB Kyle Juszczyk: 56.8 overall, all grades in the mid to high 50s
The offensive line had a generally strong game, with Mike Person having the team’s sixth best overall grade. This marked the second straight game the 49ers have not given up a sack, and as Eric Branch pointed out, it’s the first time since 2000 this has happened for the 49ers. Given how good the 49ers offensive lines were during the Harbaugh years, that’s kind of unbelievable.
The most notable struggle this week for me was Dante Pettis. He had four receptions on Monday, his first receptions since Week 2. However, he only had 12 yards on his receptions. He was generally targeted close to the line of scrimmage, but he struggled to turn up field and make plays — instead seemingly behaving like an east-west running back rather than a north-south version. It’s been a rough rookie year for Pettis, but given the development time we often see with receivers, fingers are crossed that we see some significant development this coming offseason.
1. DL Arik Armstead: 85.8 overall, 73.6 pass rush, 77.4 run defense
2. DT Earl Mitchell: 80.7 overall, 80.2 run defense
3. LB Fred Warner: 75.1 overall, 76.8 coverage, 61.2 run defense
4. DE Cassius Marsh: 74.5 overall, 71.4 pass rush
5. DT D.J. Jones: 73.2 overall, 71.2 run defense
18. DL Ronald Blair: 41.6 overall, 45.0 run defense, 50.5 pass rush
17. S D.J. Reed: 45.5 overall, 29.7 tackling, 47.9 coverage
16. LB Mark Nzeocha: 48.2 overall, 41.5 run defense, 63.2 coverage
15. CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 48.4 overall, 46.7 coverage, 56.8 run defense
14. DE Dekoda Watson: 57.2 overall, 59.0 pass rush
The 49ers defense had a very significant mix of good and bad on Monday. They handled Saquon Barkley relatively well, but then we saw next to nothing in the pass rush. The Giants passing game was not getting going in a big way early, but that final Giants scoring drive was brutal.
Ahkello Witherspoon is the guy who has been picked on most, and it reflected in his grade. His coverage grade struggled for some of his zone coverage, and of course, the big question remains as to the help he should or should not have received on the touchdown. It was a rough day all around.
Richard Sherman showed up in the middle of the pack at No. 10. His coverage grade took a hit, but he made enough big plays that I am not overly concerned with that. What I did love seeing was his performance against the run. He made a couple big tackles to stop Barkley from getting big gains. His coverage is what he’s known for, but he’s also comfortable getting physical in the run game.