The preseason is prime for praise and panic. It’s a time to crown champions (I’m looking at you, Hue), and despair in the lack of player development. With the help of Pro Football Focus, I’m here to fuel your fire, whichever way it may lean.
Below are the best, and worst, graded players for the San Francisco 49ersover the last two preseason games. It’s important to note that the play time threshold, 20 snaps, is relatively low. Sample size can be an issue in some cases, but don’t let things like math keep you down. And of course, you’d do well to take the level of competition these players face into account.
Pro Football Focus places their grades into tiers to better contextualize performance. While these are in roughly 10-point increments, think of them as a sliding scale and not a staircase.
80-89.9: High Quality
70-79.9: Above Average
50-59.9: Below Average
0-49.9: Jordan Devey (aka Poor)
Terrell Williams Jr. (S)
92.1 grade, 22 snaps
It was a brief, but bright start for the un-drafted free agent out of Houston. He didn’t allow a reception on two targets, including a pass break up on his first target. He also has a 100% pressure rate, considering he hurried the quarterback on his one pass rush snap. He did not look out of place against Dallas’ second and third team, but for the time being, but in spite of a non-surgical injury, the 49ers decided to part ways with him for the time being.
Marquise Goodwin (WR)
90.6 grade, 22 snaps
Flash Goodwin is picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. He caught all three targets against Houston, averaging 20.3 yards per reception. His overall grade ranks 5th in the NFL behind perennial juggernauts Cam Sims, Davante Adams, JuJu-Smith Schuster, and Jalen Tolliver.
D.J. Jones (DT)
89.7 grade, 51 snaps
Despite being a defensive tackle, Jones may be climbing up the KSWOF charts with his performance this preseason. While he has managed three hurries this preseason, his strength is as a run defender. Against Houston he had two stops and a force fumble, on his way to an elite 91.2 run defense grade. A performance this good will earn him a seat on the bench backing up Earl Mitchell (56.8 grade on 27 snaps).
DJ Jones is the best NT on the #49ers.— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) August 21, 2018
Hands above eyes, doesn’t let the center get into his body, sheds, makes the tackle. pic.twitter.com/CJYcWHf7T4
Sheldon Day (DT)
88.4 grade, 61 snaps
The 49ers took two very important things from the Jaguars last season: A signature win, and Sheldon Day. Day, the primary backup to DeForest Buckner, continues to impress at 3T. Of his 11 run snaps against Houston, 4 were stops. Day’s 27.3% run stop percentage led all NFL interior linemen with 10+ run snaps in Week 2. Day will comprise a core component of the 49ers rotation at defensive line. He may even come in on pass rush downs to pair with Solomon Thomas. Buckner would then be free to finally complete his transformation into Calais Campbell.
Victor Bolden Jr. (WR)
87.8 grade, 35 snaps
I’m not sure what supplement caused Bolden to be suspended for the first 4 games of the season, but my pickup basketball opponents better beware. Whether it be supplement or development induced, Bolden has been remarkably efficient this preseason. For players with at least six targets he ranks fourth in the NFL in yards per route run (4.78), and eighth in yards per reception (21.5). He’s done most his damage across the middle of the field, with 64 of his 86 yards coming between the numbers.
Honorable Mention: Nick Mullens (QB)
87.4 grade, 42 snaps
I mean, Jimmy GQ’s grade is a paltry 81.4. I’m not sayin’, but I’m just sayin’.
Jimmie Ward (CB)
31.1 grade, 52 snaps
Jimmie Ward’s most successful preseason rep may have been a left cross to DeAndre Hopkin’s chin. Because outside of that his return to boundary cornerback has been sub-optimal. Against Dallas he stopped mid-route to contemplate the marvels of quantum physics, allowing a touchdown to Michael Gallup. Overall, he’s been targeted seven times and allowed five receptions for 71 yards.
Michael Gallup TD vs Jimmie Ward #NorrisNotes pic.twitter.com/5C7XnbJrKS— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 10, 2018
Jeremiah Attaochu (DE)
44.4 grade, 44 snaps
Attouchu signed a one year “prove it” deal, and thus far all he’s doing is proving the Chargers right. Los Angeles used him as a backup edge rusher and, to be fair, his pass rush grade this preseason (66.0) would be the second best of his career — if the preseason counted. All of Attaochu’s snaps came against second and third team Houston defenders, which adds a bit of unfavorable context to this grade.
Jaquiski Tartt (S)
46.7 grade, 25 snaps
Of all the names on this part of the list, Tartt’s is the one I am most surprised to see. The low grade is well deserved, but it’s driven mostly by a couple bone-headed plays in Houston. Tartt has only been targeted two times all preseason. On the first target, Tartt got caught peeking inside before the snap preventing him from tracking the tight end on the crossing route. On his second target he blew an assignment at the goal line, giving up a touchdown. Should you be worried? No. His 81.2 coverage grade last season is more indicative of his play than a couple preseason plays.
Emmanuel Moseley (CB)
48.5 grade, 45 snaps
I’ll be honest. I had to look this guy up because I had no clue who he was. His biggest distinction so far this preseason is that he makes me scream, “WHY IS A RUNNING BACK PLAYING CORNER!” Moseley, who Google tells me is an undrafted corner from Tennessee, allowed four receptions on five targets for 66 yards. But hey — he’s got a pretty sweet diving interception, so he’s got that going for him.
Jonathan Cooper (G)
51.0 grade, 21 snaps
No, I did not misspell “Josh Garnett.” Cooper, returning from a knee injury, saw his first action of the preseason against Houston and looked very much like a historically average guard coming back from injury. He allowed one hurry in just ten pass block snaps, and his run blocking grade was just below average. The 49ers paid their new guard 4.8 million, effectively starter money, in what I can only gather is a vote of confidence for Josh Garnett’s roster chances. But with Erik Magnuson’s recent injury, we’ll be able to spend the next few weeks arguing about which mediocre guard is the least mediocre.