The 49ers fell short of their ultimate goal that is winning the Super Bowl after the Chiefs stormed back in the fourth quarter to win 31-20. It’s time to take a look at the snap counts from the game and who PFF’s best and worst graded players of the game were.
Offensive snaps- 56
Staley was banged up, and Skule, not Daniel Brunskill, replaced Staley. It was only for six snaps, but I wonder what the reasoning for that was. The 49ers needed their offensive line to control the line of scrimmage, but Person and Garland struggled after playing well for the last month. Credit Chris Jones, who is a very, very good player.
The first throw on third down in the Super Bowl for Jimmy Garoppolo went to Jeff Wilson, who dropped the pass, but there was no play due to the Chief’s defensive lineman jumping offside. Wilson may not have picked the first down up, but he had an opportunity, and it would have been, at worst, 4th & 2. Maybe the game is changed on that play as Shanahan decides to go for it then. You can play the “What if?” game for about 15 plays in the Super Bowl.
Top-five offensive grades
Staley continued his dominant play as he kept Jimmy G clean for the fifth straight game in a row. Tomlinson was perfect in pass protection as well, but Joe was the highest-graded Niners player. The 49ers averaged 5.3 yards per attempt running behind Staley, who couldn’t have played better down the stretch for San Francisco.
Juszczyk caught all three of his passes for 39 yards, and each reception went for a first down. Add in one forced missed tackle and you a productive game. I still think Juice should have been on the field late in the game when the 49ers were struggling to block Jones. Juszczyk knows where to be and knows when it’s time to leak out as a blocker. I wish he would have relied on even more.
Bourne didn’t outplay Deebo, and I’m not sure what argument you’d have against that statement. On the 26-yard catch, Bourne was uncovered. He did have another catch that was contested that went for a first down. Bourne proved to be a reliable target for this offense during the second half of the season. Samuel proved to be a star. Samuel was the 49ers dump-off option on Sunday, catching five passes for 39 yards. Three of them went for first downs. If Samuel is being penalized for having two interceptions thrown his way, then this will be the last season I recap PFF grades.
Samuel finished the game with two forced missed tackles. He also ran for a couple of first downs. Both of his carries went over ten yards. From an impact standpoint, Samuel was the best player on offense.
Defensive grades- 76 snaps
It felt like Tarvarius Moore was on the field a lot more than five snaps. Moore was the victim of defensive pass interference, broke up a pass, and also caught an interception. The 49er’s defensive line was dominant, despite not getting many calls. The refs took letting them play to another level. I will say this: the 3rd & 15 where Tyreek Hill caught a long pass and people are freezing the play and grabbing a screenshot of Nick Bosa being “held” isn’t accurate. Bosa tried to win inside, and his momentum took him even further inside. The offensive linemen used Bosa’s momentum against him. I didn’t think it was a hold at the time, and watching it from the end zone angle; my opinion didn’t change. We should do away with screenshots in football in 2020. Also, the refs are bad every game. They did not cost the 49ers the Super Bowl.
Top graded defensive players
K’Waun Williams 64.7
Bosa was a mad man on Sunday. PFF credited him with ten hurries, along with with with a sack, a quarterback hit, a run stop, and a forced fumble. From the second play of the game to the end, Bosa was everywhere. Kansas City had to alter their game-plan and send extra attention to Bosa in the second half. I don’t want to call it his best game of the season, but it was right there in a season full of gems from Bosa.
Buckner was my sneaky pick for MVP, and he made his presence felt. Two sacks, five total pressures, and two run stops. Buckner came free on a few stunts and forced Patrick Mahomes from the pocket on a couple of occasions. Considering how much attention he gets inside, Buckner’s grade should have been even higher.
Sherman had three “stops,” but also allowed all five of his targets to be caught, including a killer reception late in the game for 38-yards to Sammy Watkins. Sherman wasn’t credited with a missed tackle, but if this isn’t a missed tackle, I’m not sure what is.
Sherm did force a fumble and continue to be a dominant run defender on the edge.
Jimmie Ward had a massive hit on Mahomes to force a fumble in the first quarter. The Chiefs were fortunate that the ball went out of bounds. That’s one of those “lucky” bounces that carousels out of bounds. The Chiefs scored a touchdown on the drive. As for Jimmie, he finished the game with seven tackles, a touchdown given up, but where his impact was felt was taking away the deep passes. Through 3.5 quarters, the Chiefs didn’t complete a pass over 29 yards. I’ve seen all types of analysis on this play. Even PFF charged Emmanuel Moseley for the reception.
In these 3x1 sets, the 49ers have been playing what’s called “Cover 3 mable,” which is a zone-matching coverage. When the No. 1 WR to the top of the screen reaches a certain depth, Moseley has to follow him everywhere he goes. Usually, that’s any vertical route past seven yards. As you can see, the wideout is well past that landmark. K’Waun Williams is in the slot as the apex defender and has to account for any underneath threat. That leaves Ward responsible for the No. 2 receiver, who is lined up in the slot. If he goes vertical, that’s Ward’s responsibility. Hill ran a post that started from the top of the numbers on the 34-yard line and had time to sell the post route to the opposite 40-yard line on the hashmark. That took about four seconds to develop. It’s impossible to be mad at Ward and expect him to guard a player like Hill for that long with that much space. It was an unreal throw, too. Sometimes, you have to tip your cap.
Five-worst graded players
If you were wondering why the 49ers couldn’t stop the Chiefs on the ground, the answer is the names above. This was the first time in a month I felt like San Francisco missed D.J. Jones. Day, Mitchell, and Thomas were getting tossed around in the run game. Day never stood a chance. When that happens, you expose your linebackers, and offensive linemen get free runs. That’s what happened. The only adjustment that may have worked was if Robert Saleh would have moved Armstead or Bosa inside, but you’re sacrificing another position there.
Alexander had some brutal missed tackles. He also allowed all four of his targets to be completed for 41 yards. I don’t blame him too much for “dropping” an interception in the fourth quarter because that ball was coming in hot. Alexander didn’t play well; there’s no way around that.