What a wild ride this San Francisco 49ers season has been. After starting the season 3-4, the Niners have racked up six consecutive victories. On his third starting quarterback of the season, head coach Kyle Shanahan saw rookie Brock Purdy live up to the moment in an emphatic 35-7 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Here are the 49er's position-by-position grades from the win:
Remember, I try not to adjust my grade scale based on expectations. My goal is to grade Purdy, Garoppolo, and Lance on the same scale I would apply to Joe Burrow, Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, or Taylor Heinicke. And with that in mind, after re-watching all of Purdy’s dropbacks, I couldn’t give him anything less than an A-.
Purdy is an extremely aggressive player, but he has been calm and collected enough to avoid that turning into too many costly mistakes. Granted, he has only faced two solid but extremely shorthanded defenses. Purdy isn’t a significant rushing threat, but he’s moved well in and out of the pocket, avoiding pressure and making the offensive line’s job easier.
Purdy’s touchdown throw to Christian McCaffrey was one of the best throws by a 49ers quarterback this season. Purdy did benefit from some good penalty luck, having a sack and interception called off because of Tampa Bay penalties. Still, even if the pick had stayed on his tally, Purdy’s numbers would have stayed impressive.
Running backs: A+
Christian McCaffrey racked up 153 yards from scrimmage alongside two touchdowns. He averaged 8.5 yards per carry and 17 yards per reception and did an excellent job recovering from a bobble on his touchdown catch.
Niners fans probably wish Shanahan would integrate Jordan Mason into the usual rushing attack more, but he racked up 56 yards on 11 carries after the game was decided. The fact that the rookie averaged more than five yards per carry when Tampa’s defense knew the 49ers were trying to run out the clock is an added testament to his prospects.
Tight ends: B
George Kittle hauled in four receptions on five targets for 28 receiving yards, and Tyler Kroft drew a defensive holding penalty in the end zone. The Niners' tight ends didn’t post big numbers, but they helped create big running lanes for the team’s running backs and avoided any noteworthy mistakes.
Wide receivers: B
Brandon Aiyuk added another ankle-breaker highlight on a 32-yard touchdown. With that said, Aiyuk only caught two passes on three targets. Deebo Samuel added four receptions for 43 yards but also fumbled on his final play of the day. No other receiver recorded more than 20 yards from scrimmage.
Offensive line: A+
After the first play of the game, the 49ers offensive line held up well on dropbacks and rarely let Purdy face any pressure in the first two seconds of a play. However, they made their biggest impact on the ground. The 49ers running backs had massive lanes all day long. The Niners simply controlled the line of scrimmage.
Defensive line: A-
While Nick Bosa (and the entire 49ers defense) finished Sunday without recording a sack, the Niners generated consistent pressure throughout the game. Bucs quarterback Tom Brady took seven hits, and much like Tua Tagovailoa last week, he seemed to force erratic throws from Brady just from collapsing the pocket. They also erased a long touchdown completion by drawing a holding penalty.
Fred Warner played well, but he was not the Niners' best linebacker on Sunday. Instead, it was Dre Greenlaw who turned in another incredible performance. He racked up a game-high 15 tackles with a pass defended and an interception. Azeez Al-SHaair recovered a fumble in garbage time for added measure.
Much like the game against the Dolphins, it’s difficult to evaluate the Niners' secondary because the front-seven played so admirably, and the opposing quarterback missed several open receivers. With that said, Jimmie Ward forced a late fumble, and ultimately, the 49ers' corners played a part in holding Brady below five yards per attempt.
It seemed like Talanoa Hufanga was responsible for the coverage bust that resulted in the long touchdown completion to Mike Evans that was called back by a holding. Still, Hufanga and Tashaun Gipson combined to record 8 tackles, and 1 pass defended. Gipson capitalized on an errant throw from Brady for the defense’s first turnover in the game.
Special teams: B+
The 49ers allowed a 54-yard kickoff return to start the second half but made no other mistakes. Robbie Gould made all five of his extra-point attempts, and Mitch Wishnowsky’s day was highlighted by a 62-yard punt.