Grades, analysis from SF 49ers walloping by Josh Allen, Bills

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) gets away from San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) gets away from San Francisco 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder (92) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nick Mullens, SF 49ers, Buffalo Bills
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

SF 49ers Offensive Grades vs. Bills

Early on, it appeared as if the SF 49ers were going to get some headway with a fully healthy crop of running backs and a 100-percent wide receiver room with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne all in the fray.

The only X-factor for Kyle Shanahan’s offense was Nick Mullens and the offensive line.

Yet Mullens wasn’t exactly to blame here, as he did about as well as anyone could realistically expect him to perform amid the circumstances.


There are games Mullens has absolutely “lost” for the Niners this season. Week 13 wasn’t it.

Mullens’ stat line of 26-of-39 for 316 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 95.7 tells a couple of things. First, he’s capable of putting up numbers, although those can come during garbage time, which was again the case in Week 13 when the Bills were out to a three-score lead.

His first interception wasn’t his fault either, as Brandon Aiyuk saw a pass bounce out of his grasp and into the Bills defense.

There were even some nice plays by the quarterback, moving out of the pocket to extend plays while finding open receivers. And a 49-yard bomb to Aiyuk to set up a second-half touchdown was arguably Mullens’ best pass of the season.

Yet there were times where Mullens overthrew, underthrew or failed to lead his receiver adequately.

That’s Mullens. There’s no other way around it, yet he wasn’t the reason why San Francisco lost.


One of the modus operandi for the SF 49ers in Week 13 was to run the ball against the Bills, as they were averaging 4.7 yards against per carry entering the game.

Buffalo held the trio of Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Tevin Coleman and Co. to just 4.1 yards per rush.

Wilson, not Mostert, actually led all Niners ball-carriers with 47 yards on seven carries for 6.7 yards per attempt, and one could argue the former should see more touches down the stretch, both to preserve Mostert for 2021 and to see just how big a role Wilson, a restricted free agent next year, could play in the offense.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk added a 6-yard receiving touchdown later in the game to make it a bit more interesting, but San Francisco probably wishes its rushing offense offered up much more than the 86 total yards it got during the game.


Two big storylines from the SF 49ers’ crop of pass-catchers: Rookie tight end Charlie Woerner had his first two NFL receptions, while Deebo Samuel didn’t receive a single pass in the first half.

Samuel not being targeted more than once in the first two quarters is an anomaly, although he did finish the game with six catches for 73 yards, although the bulk of those came in garbage time. Had Samuel been a bigger factor earlier, perhaps the game would have been closer.

But he wasn’t. Credit Buffalo for that, too.

Aiyuk had an excellent game aside from that gaffe that led to a Bills interception. Fans might get angry at him for failing to deliver a key block on a Tevin Coleman run that netted minus-9 yards. Yet that’s what happens when a wide receiver is asked to take down a defensive end.

Despite that, Aiyuk managed five grabs for 95 yards and the game’s first touchdown. Veteran tight end Jordan Reed found the end zone late, too

So, why the bad grade?

It’s simple: too little, too late from this group of pass-catchers. If you’re looking for the reason why the score seemed closer than the game was, this is a big one. The needed production from the receiving group wasn’t there until late in the second half.


Perhaps the Niners offensive line has taken too much flak for what it’s done or hasn’t done this season.

In this case, though, it’s deserved.

Whatever platoon Kyle Shanahan is engineering at right guard with Tom Compton and Colton McKivitz hasn’t worked, and neither looks the part of an NFL-caliber starter. True, San Francisco doesn’t have a lot of options elsewhere. But it’s still something of an anomaly why runners are still being asked to run to that side of the formation or why there isn’t more slide protection on that side to protect Mullens.

Surprisingly, Mullens wasn’t sacked all night. Yet that’s due more to his maturation recognizing pressure and evading it, although it wasn’t always to perfect results.

The SF 49ers would be wise to invest more heavily in their offensive line this offseason.