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PFF grades and snap counts: Ward and Reed lead the way for the Niners

Tomlinson and Greenlaw were the lowest graded players on each side of the ball.

NFL: NOV 05 Packers at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We went over the Winners and Losers from the 49ers loss to the Saints earlier on Monday. Let’s take a look at some of the snap counts and top graded players from PFF. Let’s start on offense.

Not many surprises here. Ross Dwelley out-snapping Jordan Reed might be, but Reed only comes onto the field in passing situations. Of his 31 snaps, 25 of them came in the passing game. Jerick McKinnon received the bulk of the snaps at running back. He had two costly sacks and lacked a second gear. The team needs Raheem Mostert back on the field.

Top-five offensive players

Jordan Reed 80.6

Brandon Aiyuk 78.6

Reed caught five of his six targets for 62 yards and three first downs. Reed also forced a missed tackle. He made some tough catches in traffic and fought for the ball as well. Good luck finding a better catch than the one below.

Aiyuk has morphed into a player where the 49ers can rely on at each level. He drew a flag on a deep pass where Aiyuk ran a double move, he’s getting open in the intermediate part of the field, and we know what Aiyuk can do on screens and jet sweeps that aren’t into the boundary.

Trent Williams 77.4

Daniel Brunskill 77.1

Tom Compton 75.9

It’d be an upset if Williams weren’t a top-five graded player. This makes two weeks in a row where Brunskill lands on the list at center. Brunskill and Compton combined to allow three pressures, while Brunskill had a run-blocking grade of 82.2. We could be looking at the 49ers center of the future if this type of play keeps up.

Five-lowest graded offensive players

Kyle Juszczyk 51.5

Austin Walter 50.9

Nick Mullens 44.4

Colton McKivitz 43.6

Laken Tomlinson 43.4

Beathard was the lowest-graded player, but he only played one snap. We saw his throw, where it appeared that Beathard tried to throw a line drive on a deep post. It did not work.

Juszczyk has struggled this season, and the 49ers will have a decision to make. There’s no doubt he means a lot to this offense, but as San Francisco continues to surround its quarterback with weapons, I’m curious as to whether Kyle Shanahan will evolve past needing to pay big money to a fullback.

Walter had a low-grade thanks to a 6.2 pass-blocking grade. You don’t need an explanation for Mullens’ grade.

McKivitz and Tomlinson had run-blocking grades in the 30s and 40s. Tomlinson had two penalties to go along with a QB hit. McKivitz missed a critical block on fourth down where he stepped the wrong way. The 49ers continue to play musical chairs at right guard but were caught standing up when the music was playing with McKivitz in on fourth down.

Defense - 59 total snaps

I thought Robert Saleh’s game-plan was outstanding. There was one series early in the game where he put Marcell Harris in at linebacker on first down. On the next play, he went back to his base look and played Cover-2, then on third down, the defense played man coverage and double-teamed Alvin Kamara. Harris played 30 snaps, while Azeez Al-Shaair played one. All of this speaks to Saleh’s creativity.

Five-highest graded defenders

Jimmie Ward 83.9

Kentavius Street 78.2

Jamar Taylor 74.0

Jason Verrett 66.8

Kevin Givens 64.9

Ward’s dropped interception will be what we remember, and rightfully so, but he made plenty of plays on Sunday and deserved to be the highest-graded defender.

Street should have a sack to his name. That is all.

Taylor has been a pleasant surprise after a rough start. He was aggressive against the run, as evidenced by his three stops, and only allowed six yards on four targets in coverage. Verrett allowed 21 yards on the outside on five targets, and he also broke up a pass. Verrett did miss two tackles against Alvin Kamara, but he continues to be stellar in coverage.

Five-lowest graded defenders

Arik Armstead 51.6

Javon Kinlaw 45.9

D.J. Jones 41.7

Fred Warner 40.9

Dre Greenlaw 29.4

I gave my take on how the linebackers played in our Winners and Losers article on Monday. It’s not often I’m on the same page with PFF. Speaking of disagreeing, watching Sunday’s game, and coming away thinking Kinlaw was one of the worst players on the field is why we rarely agree. The way Jones plays, he’s never going to grade out well. The Niners nose tackle does a lot of dirty work.

What’s up with Armstead, or is this who he is? He’s played well this season as a whole, but he has not gotten after the quarterback, and that’s what San Francisco needs him to do.

The real “loser” or the worst part about the defense Sunday was missing 15 tackles. Kamara makes everyone look silly, but he made seven defenders miss on Sunday. That can’t happen.