One of the NFL’s ten best defenses walked into Levi’s Stadium, and the 49ers offense hung up 51 points on them. Two hundred thirty-two total yards on the ground divided among three running backs and a wide receiver 175 yards through the air to seven different wide receivers. Seven total touchdowns for San Francisco, and it was a rout from the start.
The 49ers jumped out to a 21-3 start early in the second quarter, and they didn’t look back from that moment. Carolina cut it to a two-possession game late in the third quarter, but head coach Kyle Shanahan and the offense responded with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that effectively put the game to rest.
With an all-out clinic, it’s pretty easy to hand out grades for the different position groups on the 49ers’ offense.
Offensive Play Calling — A+
On wideout Deebo Samuel’s touchdown run, the play design had Carolina’s defense absolutely baffled, and the rookie was able to finish off a 20-yard run with six points. The 49ers sent wideout Emmanuel Sanders in motion to the right, followed by Samuel right behind, with Kittle going to his left.
The misdirection all along the formation confused Carolina’s defense, and before they knew what hit them, the 49ers were celebrating in the back of the end zone. Shanahan offense averaged 6.2 yards per play, and they scored 51 points after only throwing for 175 yards.
San Francisco is without their starting tackles and fullback on offense, yet they don’t seem to skip a beat, and it’s a result of the play-calling and design from Shanahan and his offensive staff.
Quarterback — A
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a very solid performance on Sunday, despite only throwing for 175 yards and turning the ball over once. The 49ers’ running game was working, and Garoppolo was able to use a lot of play-action to keep the chains moving.
Garoppolo was stellar on third down and completed 82 percent of his passes on Sunday. Is that good? I think it’s pretty darn good. The 49ers’ $137M man continues to throw boneheaded interceptions, including one on Sunday to Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly, but if the 49ers score at this clip, it won’t matter.
Running Backs — A+
Listening to 49ers’ running back Tevin Coleman post-game, there was nobody more excited to be a part of Shanahan’s offense once again. The former Falcon running back had 105 rushing yards on 11 attempts, including three touchdowns. But wait, Coleman wasn’t done there. He also had two catches — one for a touchdown.
San Francisco’s two-headed rushing attack was absolutely running all over the field on Sunday, with running back Matt Breida adding 35 yards on the ground. After Breida left with an ankle injury, tailback Raheem Mostert was able to step in and seamlessly finish off the game. The 49ers’ rushing attack might have been out of sync the past few weeks, but they’re rolling again and watch out.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends — A-
When the run game is gaining 232 yards for the game, there’s not much action to go around for the pass-catchers. Despite the limited opportunities, the 49ers’ receivers made the most of it — especially the newly-acquired Sanders.
Sanders came out of the gate and had two catches on the 49ers’ opening drive, including Garoppolo’s first touchdown pass of the day. With only a few days to get integrated with the offense, Sanders was targeted five times on the afternoon and was a decoy on multiple plays.
With National Tight Ends’ day being celebrated at Levi’s Stadium, the 49ers’ offense made sure to get the NFL’s best tight end, George Kittle, involved early and often. Kittle finished the game with six catches for 86 yards and was dominant once again in the blocking phase as well.
Offensive Line — A
Rookie tackle Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill continue to step up for Shanahan and the 49ers’ offense despite their lack of experience. With the Panthers’ defensive front featuring defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and pass rushers Bruce Irvin and Brian Burns, the 49ers’ offensive line had a tall order on Sunday.
The front-five delivered for San Francisco’s offense, mauling defenders out of the way to allow for the 49ers’ running backs to gain 232 yards on the day. They gave up multiple sacks on the day, but not all of them were a result of poor blocking. Garoppolo should’ve gotten rid of the ball sooner in one of those instances.
With tackles Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey returning in the next few weeks, the 49ers’ offensive line is getting healthy in the stretch run and has valuable depth behind the starters.
My job of grading the 49ers’ offensive groups becomes significantly easier when the 49ers’ offense puts up 51 points and stampedes all over the opposing defense. A’s all around for a group that will look to take its’ success to Arizona in a short week.