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Position-by-position grades from the 49ers 34-31 victory over the Lions

The 49ers did just enough to get past Detroit, and that’s all that matters.

NFC Championship - Detroit Lions v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are the 2024 NFC Champions after defeating the Detroit Lions 34-31 on Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium. For the second time since Kyle Shanahan became the team’s head coach and the third time since the turn of the century, the Niners are heading to the Super Bowl. Time will tell if San Francisco can finally win their first Super Bowl in more than three decades.

Here are position-by-position grades from the win:

Quarterbacks: C+

Brock Purdy had another rocky performance, but plenty of other quarterbacks would have let a rough first half and 17-point deficit lead them to shrink. Instead, Purdy remained aggressive and was a pivotal piece of San Francisco’s comeback. We’d obviously talk about things differently if Kindle Vintor corrals an inaccurate deep ball from Purdy and grabs Detroit’s second interception of the game. But he didn’t, Brandon Aiyuk made the play, and the rest is history. Arguably just as important as his arm, Purdy’s elusiveness remained clutch, leading to several key out-of-structure completions and some pivotal late-game scrambles.

Running backs: A-

Christian McCaffrey was the lone 49ers contributor who was a net positive for the length of regulation. McCaffrey racked up 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries on the ground and had another 45 receiving yards. Elijah Mitchell also rushed for a touchdown and Kyle Juszczyk made a pair of excellent catches.

Tight ends: B-

George Kittle was a great blocker, as per usual, even if he only had one reception that gained yards.

Wide receivers: B+

Brandon Aiyuk was kept in check for most of the game, but his wild tip drill 51-yard reception was more than enough to deserve an above-average grade. While Aiyuk had the most memorable highlight, Deebo Samuel was the Niners best overall receiver, recording a team-high eight receptions for 89 yards.

Offensive line: B

The 49ers offensive line did a good job keeping a talented Lions defensive line from taking over the game. The Niners early struggles were not the responsibility of the offensive line. Sure, they benefitted from a lot of bailing out from Purdy in the pocket, but they were a net positive.

Defensive line: C-

Nick Bosa had a great statistical day, but the 49ers defensive line was unable to generate a consistent pass rush against Goff. While Bosa had two key sacks, Jared Goff generally had plenty of time to operate in the pocket. They were also quite consistently pushed around by the Lions’ run blockers as well.

Linebackers: C

Fred Warner had his moments and had a game-high 13 tackles, but the 49ers second level was unable to make up for the defensive line’s struggles in the run game and was overmatched when lined up against Sam LaPorta.

Cornerbacks: C+

The 49ers cornerbacks avoided getting beat over the top, but they also gave Detroit’s receivers plenty of room to work underneath. While Goff’s numbers left something to be desired, drops by Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds could’ve easily changed his final line.

Safeties: D+

Ji’Ayir Browns had a terrible game, getting exposed in pass coverage and taking some rough angles against opposing rushers. That said, Tashaun Gipson’s forced fumble turned the game around.

Special teams: D+

Jake Moody missed another field goal, continuing to raise questions about the 49ers' ability to trust him to make a clutch kick beyond the 30-yard line in the Super Bowl. To his credit, Mitch Wishnowsky’s lone punt was a booming 56-yarder.