I finally was able to rewatch the game, and I went in thinking I’d be disappointed with a lot of the performances, but ultimately that wasn’t the case. Both of the San Francisco 49ers offense and defense didn’t execute, which was the game’s deciding factor. You have to give credit to Arizona and specifically Kyler Murray. The defense had a lot of what the Cardinals were trying to do covered, but Murray’s legs were the defense. You can’t convert two of your 11 third-down attempts or only one of your four red zone attempts on offense. The good news is every mistake made was fixable, and I have a hard time seeing the Niners making the same mistakes moving forward.
If we’re going to hold Jimmy Garoppolo to the standard of an elite player, that’s fine. That means we are going to have to critique him as one, too. Through the first half, Jimmy looked like Jimmy. He missed one throw where you would have liked to see him be more patient, but there wasn’t anything egregious. In the fourth quarter, his internal clock sped up, and Garoppolo started to rush his reads and miss open guys.
here are jimmy’s misses from the fourth qtr. one thing I noticed throughout the game was that pettis was open quite a bit, and you’ll see it a couple of times here. tough to blame garoppolo for not trusting him, but that’s gonna have to change moving forward.— KP (@KP_Show) September 17, 2020
Garoppolo finished the game with 33 attempts, but three of those were throwing the ball away. Of Jimmy’s 30 “true” throws, 20 of them were on target, which matches up with this tweet:
Four of his misses were behind the receiver, while four were low misses, and five were high. Any miss high is always a concern and generally a sign of mechanics. Unlike last season, Garoppolo’s confidence wavered after taking a couple of hits. That may have been the biggest concern, though it’s unlikely to be an issue moving forward.
Running backs: B
I thought all three running backs played well. They didn’t do anything extraordinary, but each player made the most of their opportunities. Kyle Juszczyk had a couple of blown blocks that hurt, but he also had a long 41-yard reception and should have had another long catch earlier in the game. Raheem Mostert forced three missed tackles, while Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon each forced one. Looking back at it, McKinnon’s drop had a bigger impact than I initially thought. Though he didn’t touch the ball a lot, McKinnon was also more effective than I initially thought, too. RB2? Perhaps, but Coleman was decisive and ran north and south, which has been my biggest gripe with him.
Tight end: C-
George Kittle said he was fine multiple times during the postgame on Sunday, but it’s hard to believe his knee didn’t affect his play. Kittle was AWOL in the second half thanks to Arizona double-teaming him a good bit, but as a blocker, I’ve never seen Kittle miss as many blocks in a game as he did on Sunday, and I’ve been watching him since Iowa. Kittle ended up with five blown blocks on the day, which was a team-high. Kittle even allowed a sack, which never happens.
Jordan Reed ran a wrong route or two, but he was fine and gained separation underneath.
Offensive line: B
Promising. That’s the best way to describe how the offensive line looked on Sunday. Yes, Trent Williams is a superstar and bolsters the line. Check out some of these blocks:
trent williams— KP (@KP_Show) September 17, 2020
-picking up a stunt and tossing a guy to the side
-blocking his guy and making 85 fall
-mirroring budda baker, which is perfectly normal for an OT
-not budging on jones’s bull rush
-using jones’s “flash” move against him
williams might be ok pic.twitter.com/Q2bANM4Akz
We knew that already, though.
Hroniss Grasu did not look out of place, nor was he overwhelmed in pass protection. Daniel Brunskill missed a couple of blocks against the run early on but cleaned things up as the game went along. Mike McGlinchey had a tough matchup against Chandler Jones, but he did a nice job of riding Jones upfield and allowing Garoppolo to step up in the pocket. Laken Tomlinson was Laken Tomlinson against the pass. It wasn’t perfect or pretty, but the line played well for it being their first live-action together. The starters handled the Cardinals’ pressure well, including all of their stunts upfront.
“Plus” blocks are your eyebrow-raising “wow” type of blocks. McGlinchey is learning from Williams.
Wide receivers: B-
I was expecting the wideouts to struggle. That was not the case. As you could see from the Garoppolo clip above, Dante Pettis was open the majority of the fourth quarter. I loved his usage as a potential deep threat and outside of the numbers. Pettis is still a little jittery on routes over the middle, but the Niners have plenty of players that can win underneath. The same cannot be said on the perimeter.
It’s evident that Garoppolo doesn’t trust Pettis, and, based on last year, can you blame him? It’s a new year, though, and when you lack weapons, you have to allow your guys to make plays. If all of a sudden, we see Pettis emerge as a threat during Week 2, give credit to Jimmy for trusting him. Most of the missed opportunities from Week 1 were due to Garoppolo closing off the field because he didn’t trust Pettis.
I thought Kendrick Bourne was very good, too. Last year, when the 49ers ran their “return” routes, Bourne wasn’t always quick out of his breaks. He had a nice double move that we’ve all seen toward the end of the game, but Bourne beat Patrick Peterson a couple of times on some underneath routes as well.
Trent Taylor struggled the most out of the three wideouts that played a lot. It’s easier for athletic cornerbacks to stay with Taylor.
Defensive line: C
If not for Nick Bosa, this grade would have rivaled for the worst on the team. Here is a look at how the defensive line performed:
Are you winning? That’s what I want to see. That’s how you impact the game. There was one player who made a difference.
What we’ll see moving forward, as Arizona did in the second half, is teams are going to start chipping Bosa with a tight end or sending a running back his way. Someone else is going to have to come through on the defensive line. That didn’t happen on Sunday. Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Jones played well inside as run defenders, and Kinlaw even had a few nice pass rushes. Kevin Givens showed great hustle and did not look out of place. I think the 49ers could have a solid player in Givens if he keeps getting opportunities.
Dee Ford did not look explosive at all, and Arik Armstead was on the ground too much. Both of those two were arguably the most disappointing players on this side of the ball.
Fred Warner is a stud. Who knew? He had four stops, three wins, and showed off his smarts in coverage. Warner’s aggressiveness is fantastic and allows him to make plenty of plays near the line of scrimmage. Dre Greenlaw had a costly penalty, but he also forced an interception and was fantastic in coverage. I thought Kwon Alexander played better than I remember. He only missed two tackles, but he did give up a touchdown near the goal line where he got caught in no man’s land. After that, Alexander buckled down and forced a couple of fumbles.
No linebacker should have to guard a receiver while worrying about Murray scrambling. The linebackers were in a bind a lot during the second half, and there wasn’t much they could do.
Emmanuel Moseley received a ton of flack, and rightfully so. Last year, Moseley was an aggressive tackler. He only missed one tackle last game and had 2.5 stops, but there were too many times where he made contact, and the ball carrier was able to get yards afterward. That can’t happen. Moseley was targeted 14 times, which was ten more times than anyone else. He allowed ten receptions for 92 yards, had five blown coverages, and gave up five first downs. Moseley didn’t play well.
Richard Sherman didn’t, either. Sherman was only targeted three times, but he could’ve given up a lot of had he been targeted like Moseley. DeAndre Hopkins was spinning Sherman around on some routes, and even Christian Kirk got the best of Sherm, who gave up one first down but had six blown coverages and a missed tackle on Murray’s touchdown run.
I have so much respect for K’Waun Williams and how he fights through blocks and makes plays around the line of scrimmage. He’s a wolverine. Williams had a couple of stops, one where he ran through someone’s block. Williams also had that cheap holding call on that did not affect the play, and he also gave up a critical first down to Larry Fitzgerald.
Jimmie Ward allowed all four of his targets to be completed for 35 yards while allowing two first downs. Ward also missed a tackle. He seemed to be a step late this past Sunday. Jaquiski Tartt had an interception that landed in his lap and was solid against the run, but it looked like the blown coverage at the end of the game on Hopkins was on Tartt. He was the only player not guarding someone while everyone else is in man. After the game, Sherman said one side was playing one coverage while the other side was playing another, so I suspect Tartt didn’t get the call.