49ers Offensive Grades
While the 49ers had problems hanging onto the ball, that didn’t stop them actually putting together some great offensive drives. They finished with 436 yards of total offense.
Garoppolo was sharp, the running backs were good when they didn’t fumble and the receivers repeatedly made plays.
Sometimes the stats don’t tell you the whole story. If one missed the game and only glanced at the stats, he or she would see Garoppolo went 23-of-32 passing for one touchdown and two interceptions, as well as the two fumbles.
However, what they don’t say is neither interception was on Garoppolo.
The first was a screen to running back Matt Breida which was inexplicably deflected high into the air and intercepted. While the pass was slightly behind, it was by no means uncatchable or a pass that should have been picked off.
With the second, the Steelers defense put immediate pressure on Garoppolo who hit a quick dart to Pettis on a slant. The pass was accurate and a play was possible, but the ball was deflected and it unluckily fell into the arms of the Steelers’ Minkah Fitzpatrick.
It wasn’t a bad throw, but in retrospect one may wonder if the sack should have been taken instead.
However those picks aside, Garoppolo was clinical all afternoon and was robbed of a 300-plus yard passing game, when rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel dropped a long bomb after hitting the ground late in the second half.
Fumble-wise, one was his fault due to a dropped snap. However the second one in the fourth quarter is trickier, as it’s uncertain what the play was meant to be. It looked like a direct snap to Pettis heading across the back of the offensive linemen, but it also could have been a botched snap that hit Pettis.
Garoppolo would deserve the blame for the latter, but not the former.
If not for the fumbles in prime field position and a dropped snap that the Steelers recovered, the 49ers probably would have scored 30-plus points again behind him.
Running Backs: C+
For the most part, it was business as usual for the 49ers on the ground. They had 165 yards rushing combined and Jeff Wilson became the first 49er since Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny in 1956 to have four rushing touchdowns in his first two games for the season (Wilson was on the practice squad for Week 1) with two more added to his tally.
Not bad company to be in.
Breida had 68 yards on 14 carries, and Raheem Mostert had 79 yards on 12 carries. Wilson had the aforementioned touchdowns and is an official red-zone weapon for the 49ers.
They had gains in the passing game, too. Breida caught two passes for 20 yards and fullback Kyle Juszczyk had three catches for 51 yards, including a great diving catch for a first down.
The only issue was turnovers. Mostert fumbled twice, while Breida had the drop that went for an interception.
The grade suffered for that, which is a shame, because it was a great effort otherwise.
Wide Receivers: B
Garoppolo has a habit of spreading the ball around to different receivers, and this trend continued in Week 3.
Garoppolo had 32 passing attempts and targeted wide receivers only 16 times with those passes, however the unit was making plays all day.
Samuel will have nightmares after that drop off a deep ball that could have been crucial, but was clinical otherwise catching his other three targets for 44 yards.
Marquise Goodwin and Richie James were both targeted twice and efficiently caught both of their balls for 41 and 22 yards, respectively. Kendrick Bourne only caught one of his three targets for 22 yards.
The big news, however, is Pettis was finally back as both a starter and a factor in the passing game, catching four of his five targets for 20 yards and the winning touchdown.
All in all, a good performance.
Tight Ends: B-
George Kittle was his usual self on the field catching a team-high six passes for 57 yards from his also team-high eight targets.
The 49ers seem content only involving Kittle in the passing game, which is fine.
The tight ends also contributed to the strong blocking for the ground game, which was vital to the 49ers eking out the victory.
Offensive line: B-
A lot of Bs for this offense.
While the 49ers were very strong blocking for the first two games, it wasn’t as simple in Week 3
While Garoppolo was only sacked once, he was pressured on multiple occasions which also contributed to the second interception of the afternoon. Pittsburgh didn’t hesitate to send edge blitzes, and a number of those weren’t picked up.
That being said, however, the drive that sealed the game featured strong blocking for almost every play. Like the rest of the offense, it came up strong when it needed to.
On the ground, the unit was brilliant as always.
For rookie Justin Skule, he gets a big tick facing a strong defensive line. He was whistled for some penalties, but did not concede a sack and was not a liability aside from the aforementioned flags. I’m blaming the commentary team for this, as he was perfect until they mentioned that he was playing well.