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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Bills, SF 49ers
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (19) defended by San Francisco 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore (33) Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-Arizona Republic /

SF 49ers Defensive Grades vs. Bills

Three things can be equally true:

  1. Robert Saleh didn’t have any answers for what Josh Allen and the Bills wanted to do.
  2. Saleh and the defense weren’t helped out by their offense.
  3. Allen and the Bills offense are pretty good.

Buffalo outgained San Francisco 449 to 402 yards, again showing why the box score isn’t conclusive in itself. Instead, it was watching how easily Allen carved up the SF 49ers defense, although it was down three starting-caliber nickel cornerbacks — K’Waun Williams, Jamar Taylor and Emmanuel Moseley — because of injuries.

Perhaps that helps explain Allen’s 375-yard, four-touchdown performance, along with slot receiver Cole Beasley going off for a career-high nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown.

But not all of it.


At this point, let’s just understand the Niners don’t have an elite pass rush, particularly from the edges, and that allowed Allen to frequently evade pressure and extend plays with his legs. He can do that, of course. He’s good at it.

Occasionally, San Francisco got pressure. Rookie defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw had pressures, and a couple of them forced off-target passes from Allen.

But when that’s the pass-rushing highlight out of this group, with all due respect to EDGE Dion Jordan’s lone team sack of the night, it’s safe to say not much went right for this group when asked to thwart what Buffalo was going to do through the air.


Yes, linebacker Fred Warner is still elite. He recovered a fumble early in the game that led to the SF 49ers’ opening score.

Meanwhile, second-year linebacker Dre Greenlaw had another one of those games where it becomes easier to question whether or not he’s a good long-term option. Greenlaw didn’t have a terrible game, per se. But he bit on more than one play fake, even for a second, which allowed for some key Bills gains.

One of those crucial fourth-down conversions — Buffalo went 2-of-3 here, by the way — came by the way of Greenlaw biting.

Hopefully, that’s some valuable experience that’ll make Greenlaw better with time. For now, however, he’s going through quite the sophomore slump.


San Francisco was shorthanded within its secondary, and it sure showed.

More things showed, too. Cornerback Richard Sherman looked slow, particularly when asked to chase down Stefon Diggs on a crossing route. It wasn’t his best moment. Although one could argue there’s some blame between him and third-year defensive back Tarvarius Moore for the wide-open touchdown allowed to Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis:

Either Sherman didn’t hand off coverage to Moore at the right time, or Moore incorrectly thought Davis was going to cut into the middle of the field.

Regardless, both defenders were covering grass on the touchdown. It wasn’t pretty.

Moore had arguably his worst game of the season, taking more than his share of bad angles and being out of position on a number of the Bills’ chunk plays. While the rest of the Niners secondary didn’t look particularly great, one could easily state Moore was the worst culprit of the group.

And that says something when San Francisco elected to use seldom-used defensive back Dontae Johnson, who actually ended up having a somewhat-respectable eight tackles on the night.