The San Francisco 49ers started slow, then raced out to a big lead, and had to hold on in a 28-25 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. We’ll have plenty of analysis on the game over the next week. Here are the PFF grades and snap counts on both sides of the ball.
Offense-70 total snaps
Sanders and Samuel led the way for the wide receivers in snap counts, and it wasn’t particularly close. This is probably what we can expect to see for the rest of the season. If the 49ers do rely on 11 personnel, there will be an uptick in snaps for Pettis. I do like how Kyle Shanahan has mixed Bourne in on certain packages. Bourne can make those tough receptions in traffic—as he did on his touchdown catch against the Cardinals—but he can also find openings in zone coverage. It’s wise not to bail on Bourne.
Touches are more telling for running backs than snap counts. Usually, when Breida is in, he’s going to get the ball. San Francisco attempted to get Coleman the ball 15 times, while Breida had 17 touches.
Kittle said after the game that Dwelley could move better than him by the fourth quarter, and that’s why he played over Kittle. He underwent an MRI on Friday morning, and the results were good. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Kittle’s knee is fine and the testing showed a “minor ailment.” After the game, Kittle told reporters he would be fine to play next Monday against the Seahawks. Dwelley came through in the clutch for the 49ers with a couple of crucial catches and blocks. He’s been dependable for a month now.
Top 5 PFF grades
It’s about time Kittle makes the top five. Tomlinson has made it the past two weeks. With the way the 49ers are helping out their offensive tackles with running backs and tight ends, it’s leaving their interior lineman 1-on-1, and all three are answering. That’s refreshing.
I’m still in “prisoner of the moment” mode, but it feels like Sanders was better than that. Then again, his quarterback made life easy on him. Sanders said it himself. I asked Garoppolo if this was the best game he ever played. Jimmy laughed and said no, but I can’t remember seeing him play with this much confidence. His stats were as good as it gets, but when you look at how he played, where he was placing the ball, and how he was waiting until the last minute—fearless in the pocket—you’d have a difficult time finding a better game. He was superb.
Bottom 5 PFF grades
James Jr. 52.9
Samuel’s drop in the red zone was rough, but we see what he can do with the ball in his hands. He’s a gifted athlete. I think the addition of Sanders will speed up Samuel’s development process.
Richburg gave up one quarterback hit and two hurries, which gave him a 30.8 pass-blocking grade. Tomlinson gave up three hurries, and he had a 71.8 pass-blocking grade. This is where the confusion comes in. If Richburg was beaten more, why not include that in your numbers? I’m not going to comment just because I don’t remember off the top of my head. I do remember Garoppolo being under pressure a bit more than usual.
When Alexander was off the field, there was a significant drop-off. Shanahan didn’t sound too confident on our 10 a.m. PT conference call about Alexander’s status. He was nervous that his chest injury was serious and Kwon could miss significant time. About an hour later, we found out Alexander would be lost for the season.
It was a strange evening. Armstead missed a series because something was stuck in his throat. Tartt looked lost in the run game, and I’m not used to seeing that at all. Warner didn’t play well against the run, either.
Top 5 PFF grades
Sherman broke on a pass early in the game to break it up, and that was “vintage Sherman.” You’d have no clue listening to him speak, however. He really beat himself up over a missed tackle that led to points.
Jones is a stout run defender that is a big reason why the 49ers have had success this season; he just doesn’t make the flashy plays so he won’t get credit. Bosa and Buckner have plenty of flashes, as does Ford and Armstead.
Bottom 5 PFF grades
Tartt did not play well. If you watch Arizona’s first drive, that will tell you why. Good players have bad games, and that’s what Thursday night was.
PFF had Warner struggling in all phases. They had him giving up five of seven receptions for 47 yards. He also missed two tackles and had a penalty. His dropped pick-six hurt.
Kliff Kingsbury deserves a lot of credit for using his mobile QB and spreading the 49ers out the way he did. There were a lot of mental mistakes for the 49ers defense on Thursday. The type of mistakes we saw in 2018. Busted coverages and missed tackles. They’ll get it corrected. They have to.