49ers Offensive Grades
49ers quarterback Nick Mullens desperately needed a bounce-back game after his fourth-quarter blunder in Week 16. The beginning of Sunday’s matchup was the opposite of what Mullens envisioned, as the first-year quarterback tossed three interceptions in San Francisco’s first five drives. With the game out of hand and backup QB C.J. Beathard warming up on the sideline, Mullens was one play away from an end to his first season in the league. However, despite getting pummeled throughout the game, the youngster kept fighting and ended the day with 282 passing yards and three touchdown scores.
After starting running back Jeff Wilson was carted off the field with a shoulder injury, it was RB Alfred Morris‘s backfield for the rest of the afternoon. Morris looked five years younger when he showed off some surprising speed and agility during a 51-yard run. The 30-year-old back ended the day with over 100 yards on the ground — and didn’t fumble the ball like fullback Kyle Juszczyk on the game’s opening drive, or like Wilson all season long.
Filling in for the team’s top-3 wideouts, the 49ers’ receiver trio of Kendrick Bourne, Richie James and Trent Taylor performed admirably in their extended action on Sunday. None of San Francisco’s wide receivers recorded significant yardage, but both Bourne and James found the end zone. Taylor also had an opportunity to score on a shovel pass, but was stuffed at the goal line. While the 2017 version of Taylor would have muscled his way into the end zone, yesterday’s model showed just enough hesitation for the Rams’ defenders to stonewall him before he broke the plane.
Despite heavy focus by Los Angeles’ defensive unit, the NFL’s best all-around tight end couldn’t be stopped in Week 17. Kittle ended the final game of his breakout season with nine receptions for 149 yards and a score. After breaking the franchise’s single-season record for receptions by a tight end, Kittle — along with the entire 49ers’ offense — focussed on the NFL’s record for single-season receiving yards by a tight end. With just three yards left, Kittle made a short reception which broke the record and then did exactly what you’d expect from the second-year star — he took the pass 43 yards for the 49ers’ final touchdown of 2018.
Sunday was another bad day for the 49ers’ offensive line, particularly guard Mike Person and center Weston Richburg, who capped off his worst NFL season with another poor performance. Those who complained about Richburg’s expensive offseason contract appear to be justified in their criticism. Tackle Mike McGlinchey also had another rough day, but the rookie’s afternoon wasn’t learly as bad as guard Laken Tomlinson‘s day. Despite playing fairly well in the first half, Tomlinson was carted off the field in the second quarter due to a likely torn ACL.