The 49ers had their first letdown in several weeks on Sunday, barely avoiding an upset by the Las Vegas Raiders in a 37-34 overtime victory. While the Niners had a couple of standout performances, everyone will have some mistakes for coaches to focus on going forward.
Here are position-by-position grades for the 49ers win:
This was Brock Purdy’s first bad game since taking over as the 49ers' quarterback. He threw an interception after misreading the Raiders' weakside corner, and the play should have resulted in a huge gain. Unfortunately, he also had several other dangerous throws throughout the game reminiscent of Jimmy Garoppolo’s worst decisions.
Purdy did continue showing off his elusiveness in the pocket and made some impressive off-script plays, including his touchdown pass to George Kittle. Still, a significant portion of Purdy’s 284 passing yards came on screens, and Jarrett Stidham clearly outplayed him.
Running backs: A+
Christian McCaffrey was the 49ers' best player on offense despite a late-game drop. He hauled in 6 of his 9 targets for 72 receiving yards, alongside a touchdown and 121 yards on the ground (19 carries). Ty Davis-Price gained five yards, picking up a first down, on his only carry of the game, and Jordan Mason ran through tacklers on a 14-yard touchdown as well.
Tight ends: B+
George Kittle was Purdy’s safety-valve early in the game, catching a third-down conversion and a touchdown after he rolled out of the pocket. In the end, though, Kittle only caught 4 of his 8 targets for 23 yards and a touchdown.
Granted, if Purdy had made the proper read on his interception, Kittle would have had another huge play. Kittle was called for a hold on a run play, but I’m still unsure what the referee saw. Tyler Kroft was open in the red zone late, and Mark Sanchez pointed out that Purdy probably had another touchdown throw if he took advantage.
Wide receivers: A
Brandon Aiyuk-Wide Receiver 1. Aiyuk had a pair of drops, but he more than made up for it on his other reps. Not only did he set the Niners up for a game-winning field goal by catching a floater from Purdy on the last offensive play of regulation, but he racked up a touchdown and 101 receiving yards on 9 receptions (12 targets). He also ran for 16 yards on 1 carry.
No other receiver had more than 2 receptions or 50 receiving yards, but Jauan Jennings had another big play (and probably should have had another with a better throw from Purdy), and Ray-Ray McCloud took a screen 42 yards.
Offensive line: A
Dan Brunskill put up an impressive highlight getting out in a space on a screen to McCaffrey, and that summed up the offensive line’s performance on Sunday. It was one of the unit’s best performances of the season. Beyond the open rushing lanes that helped the Niners average more than six yards per carry, they also generally kept Purdy from pressure. Per PFF, both Dan Brunskill and Spencer Burford did not allow a single pressure.
Defensive line: B-
The 49ers' defensive line began taking over the game late, with Nick Bosa constantly disrupting Jarrett Stidham, forcing the game-sealing interception to Tashaun Gipson. Arik Armstead blew up 4th-and-inches at the goalline that easily could have changed the game if it went differently. And, of course, Drake Jackson continued showing off special ball skills for a defensive lineman by recording his first career interception.
Still, the Niners' defensive line did not record a sack and left rushing lanes for Stidham open throughout the game. It was a good performance but an underwhelming one for a group this talented.
The 49ers linebackers dealt with the loss of Dre Greenlaw in the middle of Sunday’s game and had a generally lackluster performance. Fred Warner recorded a game-high 12 tackles but gave the Raiders an opportunity to build a two-score lead after grabbing a facemask on a third-down stop. Azeez Al-Shaair was fine in place of Greenlaw.
Deommodore Lenoir got torched. Plain and simple. Mooney Ward was solid on the other end of the field, although Davante Adams still managed a pair of incredible catches against him. Jimmie Ward continued settling into his role as the nickel corner.
Gipson’s game-winning interception obviously lifted this grade quite a bit. Talanoa Hufanga continued making young-player mistakes, with his most egregious error coming when he inexplicably vacated covering Davante Adams to try to sack Stidham, which led to a 60-yard touchdown.
Special teams: F
Robbie Gould may have won the game in overtime, but he easily could have cost the 49ers the game with his missed 41-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Mitch Wishnowsky also had a horrible 37-yard punt from deep inside Niners' territory.