On Sunday, we got a glimpse of what the San Francisco 49ers could look like this season. The Niners beat the Giants by 27 points, despite missing a handful of their best players. Let’s take a look at the top graded players on both sides of the ball, including their snap counts.
Offense - 77 snaps total
Comfortable victories mean you can pull your starters late in the game. As you can see from the snap counts, Kendrick Bourne and Brandon Aiyuk took the lion’s share of snaps at receiver. Mohamed Sanu has already jumped Dante Pettis, and it’s probably not too long before he overtakes Trent Taylor. Once Deebo Samuel returns in two weeks, I’m curious to see if he’s the primary slot receiver. That’s where Samuel was at his best last year, and the way Bourne and Aiyuk look on the outside, it’d make for an easy transition.
Seventy-seven plays stand out. The Giants couldn’t get off the field to save their lives. The 49ers weren’t 8-12 on third down and 4-6 in the red zone. The offense was the most efficient they’ve been in three games.
Top-five offensive grades
Mullens did the majority of his work over the middle of the field. He completed 17 of 22 passes for 220 yards between the hashes. When the Giants blitzed Mullens, he went 14 of 20 for 212 yards and threw a touchdown and took one sack. Of those 14 completions, 13 of them went for first downs. Perhaps the best part about Mullens’ performance on Sunday was that he looked better as the game went along and was unfazed by the hits he took.
Jerick McKinnon 74.7
McKinnon only averaged 2.7 yards on the ground, but 28 of his 38 yards came after contact. McKinnon scored a touchdown, had two rushes over 10 yards, and forced two missed tackles. Based on how the line performed, McKinnon exceeded expectations. McKinnon caught three of his four targets through the air for 38 yards. He had a long 26-yard reception that should have been a touchdown. Two of his receptions went for first downs.
The 49ers haven’t had a running back they’ve felt comfortable throwing the ball to down the field since Kyle Shanahan has been the head coach. That’s changed with McKinnon.
Trent Williams 74.2
Williams didn’t allow any pressure on Sunday and had a pass-blocking grade of 89.6. His run blocking grade was 61.5, which is concerning, but most of the lineman struggled. Williams continues to be a bright spot for the 49ers at left tackle.
Ross Dwelley 72.8
This was perhaps the best game I’ve seen Dwelley play, from an all-around standpoint. He struggled mightily against the Jets. On Sunday, Dwelley caught all four of his targets for 49 yards. Three of those receptions went for first downs, and he had that one target where he broke two tackles. George, is that you?
Jeff Wilson Jr. 70.7
During the broadcast, the announcer said, “somehow, the 49ers fourth-string running back is better than most teams starters.” That was hilarious, but he wasn’t far off. Wilson Jr.’s vision is underrated, and he’s always made the most of his opportunities. Wilson had 12 carries for 15 yards, which looks awful. Wilson ran for two first downs, a touchdown, but 11 of his 15 yards came after contact. Creating for yourself is the name of the game, and both running backs did that.
Five-lowest graded 49ers
Trent Taylor 59.0
Daniel Brunskill 56.7
Charlie Woerner 49.4
Kyle Juszczyk 48.2
Laken Tomlinson 45.3
Defense - 52 total snaps
If the 49ers can manage to play between 50-60 snaps per game, the defense will be in great shape this season. They can stay fresh, and that won’t cause the line to play extended snaps and use depth they don’t have.
Top-five graded players on defense
Fred Warner 86.5
Warner is the best linebacker in football, and I’m going to keep saying that until you start saying it with me. The plays he’s made all season were the same plays Warner made last year. Warner only allowed 24 yards receiving on six targets, and had that beautiful interception where he ran the route for the receiver. Warner also had three stops and a timely blitz where he hit Daniel Jones. He’s playing like a star.
Arik Armstead 79.5
Armstead continues to fly under the radar. PFF credited Arik with three pressures and two stops. I don’t remember any plays he made off the top of my head, but the 49ers will need Armstead to continue to get after the quarterback.
Dion Jordan 78.0
Jordan made his debut by recovering a fumble on his first play. The 49ers newcomer also had a sack, a QB hit, and a stop. With all of their injuries, the 49ers need a timely pass rush. They also will need guys to win 1-on-1. Jordan did that on Sunday.
Jason Verrett 75.3
Verrett was a pleasant surprise against the Giants. On four targets, Verrett only allowed nine yards and broke a pass up. He also made a couple of tackles around the line of scrimmage. Verrett did have a penalty, but for his first appearance since 2017, he looked like a competent cornerback, and that’s all you can ask.
Jaquiski Tartt 72.7
Tartt broke up the only pass that came his way and had four tackles on the afternoon. Tartt didn’t do anything flashy, but that’s not the type of player he is. He’s sound and makes the plays that you can’t credit in the box score. It’s good to see Tartt get some recognition.
Five-worst graded players on defense
Azeez Al-Shaair 59.1
K’Waun Williams 53.8
Kenatvius Street 51.1
Ezekiel Ansah 49.7