49ers vs. Bengals: Week 14 position grades from nail-biting OT win

George Kittle #85 and Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 and Brandon Aiyuk #11 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers offensive grades vs. Bengals

The Niners were mostly outplayed, offensively, by quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals, and there were a number of mistakes that could have gone far worse for San Francisco.

Still, after starting 0-of-6 on third-down tries, head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense managed to right things a little bit by finishing 5-of-15 and, most importantly, not turning the ball over en route to 355 yards and an average of 5.1 yards per play.

While he made his mistakes, too, Jimmy Garoppolo was a key reason why there was success.

Quarterback: B

It was far from perfect, and a near Bengals interception in the fourth quarter could have been returned for a game-winning pick-six touchdown, except Cincy’s defender dropped it.

One bad play from Garoppolo. Fortunately, he made up for it in other areas, particularly by being perfect in overtime to help Brandon Aiyuk secure the game-winning score.

Overall, Garoppolo went 27-of-41 for 296 yards, two touchdowns without an interception, all for a passer rating of 103.3.

Running Back: B

The 49ers were shorthanded at running back with Elijah Mitchell out with a concussion, so it’s admirable enough to see reserve tailback Jeff Wilson Jr. produce in some key moments, including back-to-back 10-yard runs for a first down to help drive the clock down in the fourth quarter.

In total, Wilson rushed 13 times for 56 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, while fellow runner JaMycal Hasty got involved in the receiving game with three catches for 10 yards.

Not bad at all from a makeshift unit.

Wide Receiver: A

Two things: Deebo Samuel is an all-purpose tool, and Brandon Aiyuk is developing his “clutch” abilities.

Samuel only had one catch for 22 yards, but his 37 yards and a touchdown on eight rushing attempts once again proved just how valuable he is to the Niners offense even if he’s not a receiving leader in any particular game.

Read More: Deebo Samuel makes immediate impact in return vs. Bengals

Still, the key score was from Aiyuk, of course, and that helped make up for San Francisco’s defensive collapse in the fourth quarter:

The 49ers have been on the wrong side of plenty of those late scores, including many this season, so Aiyuk’s touchdown sure has to feel nice.

Tight End: A+

Make that a second game from tight end George Kittle where he takes over from the offensive vantage point.

Kittle had a circus-like leaping catch that could have set up a game-winning field goal before regulation expired, one of his 13 receptions for 151 yards with a touchdown. And while that end result was frustrating at the time, it’s sure good to see Kittle back at being a focal point of the offense’s passing attack again with back-to-back exceptional outings in Weeks 13 and 14.

That touchdown also set a single-season career-best mark of six touchdowns.

Offensive Line: C-

On one hand, Garoppolo taking five sacks is less than ideal, and right tackle Tom Compton continues to be a liability.

Garoppolo didn’t always respond to the pressure, though, so arguably three of those sacks can solely fall on the lack of production on the offensive line. Still, there were plenty of moments, particularly on that overtime game-winning drive, where the offensive line gave Jimmy G plenty of time in the pocket.

And while the run game faced a solid challenge against a good Bengals defense, averaging 4.3 yards per carry on the ground was solid, too.

It wasn’t the prettiest of outings from the O-line but effective enough, and that’s what counts.