The San Francisco 49ers lost their first game of the season on Sunday afternoon, falling 19-17 to the Cleveland Browns. On a rainy day in Ohio, the Niners offense was unable to find a rhythm for the first time this season, and a pair of missed field goals from rookie Jake Moody proved too costly to overcome.
Here are position-by-position grades
This was easily the worst performance of Brock Purdy’s young career. Purdy not only threw an interception and fumbled, but he also missed several open receivers and had multiple other throws that could have been picked off. Even on San Francisco’s final drive of the game, which eventually gave Moody a shot to win the game, Purdy’s first pass of the drive was behind Jauan Jennings and was thrown right to Browns corner Ljay Newsome. The only thing saving Purdy from an F was the rainy weather, although it was far from the “monsoon” game against the Commanders, and the interior offensive line’s inability to contain Cleveland’s interior pass rush.
Running backs: C
Christian McCaffrey wasn’t having a superstar performance, but he averaged nearly four yards per carry on 11 carries and hauled in all three of his targets, including Purdy’s only touchdown before he had to leave the game with an injury. Jordan Mason also continued to make an impact off the bench, rushing for 27 yards and a touchdown on five carries.
Tight ends: D
George Kittle’s usual impactful blocking was present, even if he did get called for a false start. However, with McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel out of the game with injuries, the Niners needed him to make a difference as a pass catcher. He continued struggling to find a rapport with Purdy, catching one of just two targets for one receiving yard.
Wide receivers: C
There were a couple of passes from Purdy that bounced off Brandon Aiyuk’s hands, but neither were unacceptable drops. Aiyuk’s jump to superstardom early this season was heavily built on making impressive catches that covered up some of Purdy’s inconsistent accuracy. He wasn’t able to make those plays on Sunday. Still, his ability to generate yards after the catch was responsible for the 49ers’ longest play of the day. He recorded a team-high four receptions and 76 receiving yards. Jauan Jennings only had two receptions but did have a huge third-down conversion.
Offensive line: D
The 49ers interior offensive line earned an F for its inability to prevent Dalvin Tomlinson from wrecking a number of plays. However, Trent Williams did an excellent job slowing down Myles Garrett for much of the game.
Defensive line: B-
Randy Gregory recorded a sack to celebrate joining the 49ers defensive line. Nick Bosa was responsible for the only other sack against Browns’ QB P.J. Walker. The duo of pass rushers also combined for five quarterback hits, with Clelin Ferrell and Javon Hargrave each adding a hit on Walker of their own. However, the line was unable to blow up opposing rushes like they have in recent weeks. The Browns averaged nearly five yards per carry and accrued 147 rushing yards.
The Browns clearly focused their offensive gameplan by limiting Fred Warner’s ability to make an impact, which was made easier by Dre Greenlaw’s absence. Yet, Warner still had seven tackles, a pass defended, and an interception. Warner only strengthened his Defensive Player of the Year case. Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and Oren Burks were no Greenlaw, but they combined for 11 tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass defended.
Amari Cooper racked up 108 receiving yards, but he made some incredible catches in the face of good coverage and ultimately only hauled in half of his targets. Plus, Deommodore Lenoir’s interception changed the game.
There’s no reason to knock Tashaun Gipson for the late personal foul penalty against him, since there’s really nothing he did that warranted a penalty. Nevertheless, he and Talanoa Hufanga combined for 10 tackles but no other stats.
Special teams: F
This grade goes without saying. Jake Moody missed the first regular-season field goal of his NFL career early, a 54-yarder, and then pushed the potential game-winning 41-yard field goal wide right. The Niners would have won if he made one of those kicks. It’s hard to imagine Robbie Gould missing a 41-yarder as time expired. There’s plenty of season left, but Moody will need to prove he can bounce back from an ugly performance.