49ers Defensive Grades
The 49ers’ defensive line apparently ran out of the intensity they brought to the 49ers’ previous handful of games, as this group — outside of defensive tackle DeForest Buckner — didn’t come to play on Sunday. Rams quarterback Jared Goff picked apart San Francisco’s young secondary from a clean pocket throughout the game, while Rams’ backup running back C.J. Anderson ran through huge holes on his way to 132 rushing yards on just 23 carries. The 49ers’ front office can no longer ignore the fact that this unit needs an immediate upgrade.
MIKE linebacker Fred Warner and WILL linebacker Elijah Lee both missed time during the game due to injury, but eventually returned to play. Backup linebacker Malcolm Smith made just one mistake in his six snaps during the game, but mostly because the Rams failed to throw the ball in his direction. Both Warner and Lee weren’t great in coverage on Sunday, but the duo did combine for 24 tackles on the day. Expect San Francisco to add a starter-caliber inside linebacker over the offseason, and the team would be wise to part ways with the veteran Smith, who has shown little during two expensive injury-plagued seasons.
The 49ers’ young secondary failed to hold up against the Rams, partially due to the lack of pressure from the team’s front four defenders. Both safeties Antone Exum and Marcell Harris missed key tackles when they attempted to deliver big hits instead of wrapping up the ball carrier. Los Angeles chose to go after cornerback Tarvarius Moore — with great success — when fellow corner Richard Sherman was in the game, and then feasted on cornerback Greg Mabin once Sherman was removed from action. Defensive back D.J. Reed didn’t have his best game, while nickel corner K.Waun Williams’ day was mixed.