49ers roster: Grading each position halfway through scuffling 2021 season

D.J. Jones #93 and Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
D.J. Jones #93 and Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The 49ers are at the halfway point of their underwhelming 2021 campaign, and the position-by-position grades for the roster express about as much.

Few envisioned the San Francisco 49ers would be 3-5 at the halfway point of the 2021 season.

Alas, however, here we are.

For a team expected to potentially contend for a Super Bowl and, at the very least, be a front-runner for a playoff berth, what’s happened over the first half of the year is more than just disappointing.

There are surely more colorful adjectives that could be used here, but chances are you’ve already used those words already.

Instead, let’s take a look at the reasons why, specifically a position-by-position analysis in a quasi-midterm report-card grade for each unit. Understandably, there have been some positions that have outperformed others, and injuries have also played a factor at nearly every spot, too, making the grading criteria a bit more difficult.

Nevertheless, whoever is reviewing the Niners’ report-card grades halfway through 2021 should at least consider some grounding or whatever other motivational tactics all of us had to experience in school.

49ers Special Teams

Yes, kicker Robbie Gould’s hefty contract remains quite the mistake. But we’re not here to grade the contracts team. He’s on the roster. No changing that.

Gould, however, missed three games with a groin injury but has still made four out of his five field-goal attempts with each of his extra-point tries being successfully converted. That’s about par for the course with Gould, who has also dealt with some injuries in two of the last three seasons.

His fill-in replacement, Joey Slye, was notably inconsistent, though, missing two of those extra points of four yet connecting on seven of his eight field-goal attempts.

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky is averaging 45.6 yards per punt, which is a good ballpark average but won’t win games, per se. Instead, one should look at San Francisco’s return game, which has resulted in a starting field position on the 49ers’ own 26.8-yard line, 25th in the league.

Football Outsiders ranks the Niners’ special teams unit No. 13 overall in DVOA, which makes this unit a proverbial “not great, not terrible” so far in 2021.

Grade: C+