SF 49ers position grades following lopsided Week 9 loss vs. Packers
By Peter Panacy
SF 49ers Offensive Grades
While Kyle Shanahan still managed to engineer 337 total yards of offense, it’s important to note the bulk of those came in garbage time off large-chunk plays late in the fourth quarter.
Overall, the Niners managed a mere 124 first-half yards with only five first downs.
And Nick Mullens certainly didn’t look like he could be starting material.
To be fair, Mullens was entering a game with his top receiving weapons being wide receiver Richie James and tight ends Ross Dwelley and Jordan Reed, players he likely hasn’t had a lot of reps with since training camp.
And Mullens’ offensive line did him few favors either.
That said, Mullens’ efforts were problematic, too, particularly his poor decision to attempt a pass while taking a sack. Instead of taking the third-down takedown and letting the SF 49ers, punt, Mullens threw a wild tossup that was picked by Packers defensive back Raven Greene:
Green Bay tacked seven points on the board from the turnover.
Overall, Mullens went 22-of-35 for 291 yards, a fourth-quarter touchdown to James and the interception for a 86.7 passer rating, suggesting the stats look better than the actual effort.
In fairness, Mullens wasn’t in a great spot, which keeps him from an F-grade. But it was still pretty abysmal, nonetheless.
So much for taking advantage of a Packers defense that was allowing 4.7 rush yards per carry entering Week 9.
Granted, Green Bay was loading the box forcing Mullens to throw, and that limited starting running back Jerick McKinnon from getting into a rhythm where he could have a massive impact. With his late touchdown, McKinnon still managed 52 yards on 12 carries for 4.3 yards per attempt without the benefit of an O-line doing favors in blocking.
Perhaps the hype surrounding rookie running back JaMycal Hasty will diminish after his four-carry, 3-yard night.
Probably the only exciting element to Thursday’s game for the SF 49ers offense was James, who enjoyed a career-best nine-catch, 184-yard performance with a touchdown.
Previously, James never had any more than 60 yards in a single game.
Practice squad call-up, River Cracraft, nearly had his first career touchdown early in the game but couldn’t maintain control of the ball to the ground. Backup tight end Ross Dwelley, meanwhile, had three catches for 52 yards.
Those two players, James and Dwelley, added some excitement to a pass-catching group that otherwise did little to help Mullens out.
Turns out Trent Williams is pretty important for San Francisco’s O-line.
The starting lineup consisting, from left to right, of Justin Skule, Laken Tomlinson, Daniel Brunskill, Tom Compton and Mike McGlinchey tells you what you need to know. Brunskill had some interior issues blocking after moving from right guard to center, but he wasn’t this unit’s biggest liability.
That dishonor fell on Skule, who had regular issues blocking Green Bay’s pass-rushing tandem of Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith. Especially on this play where Skule gave up a strip-sack on Mullens:
That was the only sack the SF 49ers gave up, yet there was just as much trouble pass blocking and opening up lanes for San Francisco’s run game.
Knock on wood, this unit won’t get worse.