Generally speaking, a team is never as good or bad as their last game. The answer is usually somewhere in between. When I rewatched the San Francisco 49ers destroy the Green Bay Packers, I came away thinking they really might be as good as the scoreboard read when the clock hit zeros. Here is a recap of how each position performed with a grade assigned. Let’s start with the quarterback.
Jimmy G: B
The offense as a whole had its best performance of the season from a DVOA standpoint. The passing game had their third-highest performance of the season. Jimmy Garoppolo only threw the ball 20 times, but he did what he always does, put the ball on the money. Nine of Garoppolo’s 14 completions went for first downs. Of those 14 completions, only two were “failed” completions, meaning Garoppolo wasn’t dinking and dunking while racking up his completion percentage. Here’s a look at the target distribution:
Missing four throws is a good outing. For more context, Garoppolo was hit on two of those misses.
He gets a “B” from me because he fumbled a snap that the offense was lucky to get back, he was responsible for a sack and another pressure, 135 of his 253 yards came after the catch. That’s not his fault, but you can’t give someone credit for it, either. If the 49ers get this version of Garoppolo, they’ll be playing well into the postseason. He took care of the ball and allowed the wideouts to run after the catch. Garoppolo had a play where he moved around in the pocket and dumped it off to Tevin Coleman to avoid a sack. Those are the plays that help keep the offense on track.
Running backs: B
Like Garoppolo, the heavy lifting came by way of the offensive line, but we’ll get to them shortly. The running backs did a good job of maximizing the running lanes. Mostert and Wilson’s biggest runs came where “you could’ve run a truck through that hole,” as John Madden would say. Coleman forced one missed tackle, while Mostert forced three.
I’ve been critical of Coleman as a runner, but man is he a good pass protector. We all know what Coleman can do as a receiver, but seeing him scan the field and pick up a blitzer never gets old. He’s pretty comfortably the best blocking back on the roster.
Mostert’s drop was a ball that was thrown high, but he has to catch it. Wilson didn’t have a drop, but you could argue he should have caught his red-zone target that was in traffic. Coleman is the most comfortable player catching the ball out of the backfield. I’m still in the belief that Mostert is the best runner of the three.
Richie James didn’t have a target, but he did force two missed tackles on his one carry. I like the idea of getting him a few touches a game.
Pass catchers: B-
George Kittle is very good at football. As much as I wanted to have that as the only line under the wideouts, we have to give credit to Kyle Shanahan here. He schemed open the majority of the big plays. Shanahan got the look he wanted, and the receivers came through. I’m giving the wideouts a B- because there were quite a few plays where they didn’t separate, and that is why Garoppolo had to hold onto the ball longer than he wanted to. It wasn’t just limited to separation; they were on the ground more than ever. Tripping and running into each other was a problem.
Kittle had a play where he caught the ball, and the defender attempted to tackle him, and he got 12 extra yards after contact. He’s ridiculous. We saw Deebo Samuel show off his acceleration, and Emmanuel Sanders once again prove he has no issue going over the middle. As we get deeper into the season, it’s becoming obvious that it’s a four-man show at receiver — those three and Kendrick Bourne.
Offensive line: A+
This was the best the offensive line has played in a game all season. I don’t want to harp too much on Justin Skule’s performance. He had a tough matchup and wasn’t up to the task, so he got pulled. That’s good coaching, though you could argue that Daniel Brunskill should have been in there, to begin with. What was encouraging for me is that three of the eight blown blocks came on the 49ers’ last drive when the game was decided, and Green Bay knew San Francisco was running the ball. Here’s a look at the blocking breakdown:
This was the second-best rushing performance of the season from a DVOA standpoint, and you can credit the offensive line for that. Mike McGlinchey! He had a play where he drove the Packers defender five yards and pancaked him. This was the first game all season where the right tackle wasn’t beaten. The offense ran behind McGlinchey seven times and averaged 6.5 yards per carry. Hopefully, this is the performance he needed to turn the corner.
Daniel Brunskill pitched a shutout as well. We saw what it looks like with the offense when they have tackle that’s holding them back, and a tackle that doesn’t get beat.
We haven’t talked about Kyle Juszczyk. He was penalized for a block that he’s been doing all year, where he goes to cut the defender. The edge rusher put his hand on another offensive lineman, so technically, he was engaged. It was bull-site decorum. Juszczyk missed one block but had two “plus blocks” that helped spring a pair of long runs. Juice is really good, and I’m not sure what else we can say about him.
I mentioned if San Francisco gets this version of Garoppolo, they’ll go far. If the offensive line creates the type of holes they did Sunday and gives Jimmy G time, the 49ers will get the No. 1 seed.