Here are my grades following the 49ers 27-13 win over the Dolphins yesterday afternoon.
Quarterback = B
Colin Kaepernick completed 78% of his passes, 18-23 for 185 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 6 carries for 53 yards, including a 50 yard touchdown in the 4th quarter that sealed the win.
In the first half Kaepernick was 12-15 for 133 yards. Among his 3 incompletions were a drop, throw away, and a poor miss on a throw to a wide open Crabtree in the RedZone. In the second half Kaepernick completed 6-8 for 52 yards, as the offense turned to the ground game.
Immediately after the game I had him down for a B+, but decided to knock it down to a straight B due to the trouble he had yet again with getting the snap off in time, and his ball security. Although it didn't result in a turnover, he needs to continue to work on securing the ball while in the pocket.
Running Back = B+
Frank Gore had a very nice game averaging 5.3 yards per carry, 12 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. Rookie LaMicheal James added a much needed burst of speed to the backfield this week adding 30 yards on 8 carries, while Anthony Dixon came away with 9 yards and a touchdown on 2 carries.
In addition to their running, both Gore and James proved to be very effective out of the backfield. Gore turning a short screen pass into a 19 yard gain on a 2nd and 20 was a thing of beauty, featuring just about every move you would see a running back work at during individual drills on the practice field. James also did a nice job of catching a hot route pass from Kaepernick and turning it into a 15 yard gain.
Wide Receivers = B
This group gets only a B because only 2 of the 4 were involved in the receiving game on Sunday. Michael Crabtree again turned in a magnificent performance with 9 catches for 93 yards. He is showing this year why he was the best receiver in college football two years running at Texas Tech. His running after the catch has been a big part of the success of both whoever is playing quarterback.
Randy Moss added 2 receptions for 30 yards, coming on back to back plays during the 2nd quarter drive that resulted in a go ahead field goal. It has been good to see Moss actually start trying to run with the ball after the catch. Early in the season it looked like he was trying to bury himself into the ground after each catch. Add in the deep shot from Kaepernick in which he was interfered with, and it was a decent game for #84.
Offensive Line = C+
The 49ers offensive line struggled in pass protection, allowing 3 sacks, and hits and pressure on the quarterback on multiple occasions. Also many of the big running plays were outside the tackles, and when they did try to hit inside runs, they were often coming off draw action.
This group has really struggled the last couple of weeks in pass protection, and also garnering any type of push in the run game. They need to get the run game going so that the play action pass will become more effective and in turn take pressure off of them so defenses cannot pin their ears back and get after the passer.
Defensive Line = B
Aldon Smith picked up 2 more sacks this week and finds himself only 3 behind the record for sacks in a single season with 3 games to play. His 2nd quarter bull rush over the top of Jonathan Martin was not fair, as the rookie didn't have a chance.
Justin Smith also had a nice game, getting pressure on Ryan Tannehill on several occasions and a beautiful knockdown of a Tannehill pass.
Overall the defensive line did a good job helping stop the run and getting around putting hands in the face of Tannehill to disrupt him.
Linebackers = B
Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis led the team in tackles with 6 apiece. They did a decent job overall, but had a little difficulty with Reggie Bush in pass coverage, allowing Bush to come away with 5 receptions for 38 yards.
Defensive Backs = B
The defensive backs struggled a bit early on with the Dolphins short pass game, but once the Dolphins had to go away from the underneath passing game.
Overall this unit did a good job of keeping the Dolphins receivers in front of them to eliminate the big play, and the safeties continued to make their presence felt in run support.
Coaching = B
Vic Fangio's defense limited the Dolphins to 227 total net yards, and 13 points. His unit continues to be among the best in the NFL, and is definitely the backbone of this team.
Greg Roman's offensive playcalling was a little up and down. He was a little too pass heavy in the first half, calling 15 passes to only 8 runs. As much as he might want to just air it out, this unit performs best when the playcalling is closer to 50-50. He made the necessary adjustments at halftime and the offense responded by putting up 21 points.
Pound the ball on the run, play action off of it, and use quick rub routes, slants and hitches in the passing game. This is the recipe for success with this offense and personnel.