49ers game grades from hard-nosed Wild Card victory over Cowboys

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 4
Robbie Gould, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould (9) with punter Mitch Wishnowsky (18) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers special teams and coaching grades

49ers Special Teams: D-

Kicker Robbie Gould hit three field goals, and two of them were from beyond 50 yards. That was elite performance from a kicker who hasn’t always played at that level this season.

Beyond Gould, though, special teams continued to be a nightmare for San Francisco. The third phase of the game is field positioning, and somehow, the 49ers find a way to put themselves behind the eight-ball.

Whether it was poor kickoffs that resulted in good field position for the Cowboys, an illogical need to fair catch the football while inside their own 10-yard line, poor punts, including the final one that hit the end zone for a touchback, and a roughing-the-kicker penalty stemming from a terrible punt block call, the Niners may end up losing in these playoffs because their special teams put them in a hole too big to handle.

And the biggest mistake of all? The worst level of football IQ displayed by now-special teams gunner Josh Norman to be the only player not paying attention for a fake punt.

Coaching: B-

We’ll keep special teams coaching out of this.

Both head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans had fantastic game plans on their respective sides of the ball. They attacked the weaknesses of each team and managed to control the game.

However, the reason this grade isn’t an A-mark is game management. Shanahan got conservative on offense, and Ryans got conservative at the very final drive of the game.

Neither decision harmed San Francisco, but neither decision was accurate.

Now the 49ers will advance on their quest for the Lombardi against another historic rival, the Packers.

Next. 10 biggest moments from historic 49ers and Cowboys rivalry. dark