49ers grades from Mexico City domination of Cardinals (lots of A’s)

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Jimmy Garoppolo #10 (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Jimmy Garoppolo #10 (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers offensive grades vs. Cardinals

The Niners were going to have a tough time moving the ball on the ground early against a good Arizona run defense, yet Kyle Shanahan had to know the Cardinals were susceptible against the pass, particularly when it came to giving up yards after the catch.

As such, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo could take advantage of chunk plays in an offense that delivers no shortage of “YAC.”

That’s what he did.


Garoppolo tied a career-best mark by tossing four touchdowns in the game, and he’s now gone three consecutive bouts without throwing an interception. Sure, there were a handful of off-target passes, but those don’t work against him much at all.

And a 20-of-29 line for 228 yards, the four scores and a 131.9 passer rating are quite exemplary by any account.

Oh, and rookie quarterback Brock Purdy got into the game during garbage time. Good for Purdy.

Yet the chatter will be about Garoppolo, who is easily playing the best ball of his San Francisco tenure to date, and it was on full display under the bright lights and on an international stage.

Grade: A+

Running back

The Cardinals entered the game with a solid run defense that allowed only 4.4 yards per carry, so the fact the 49ers’ rushers averaged 5.7 yards per attempt is more indicative of Shanahan setting up the run by starting off with the pass.

It worked, and Christian McCaffrey gained over 100 all-purpose yards, while Elijah Mitchell came on in relief during the second half and added 59 yards of his own after Arizona’s defense had been worn down.

Heck, even undrafted rookie Jordan Mason got in on the action.

Perhaps not the commanding takeover-type performance on the ground, but no one will complain.

Grade: A-

Wide receiver

Fans have been waiting for the proverbial “pick your poison” description of the wide receiver room, hoping that both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk would dominate in a single game at the same time.

Well, Week 11 happened.

Aiyuk’s two-touchdown performance was arguably overshadowed only by Samuel’s terrific 39-yard end-around score (with plenty of beautiful blocking along the way):

Vintage 2021 Samuel right there.

None of the Niners’ other wideouts recorded a reception, but that didn’t matter. Both Aiyuk and Samuel were exceptional on the night, completely overpowering Arizona’s secondary.

Grade: A

Tight end

Good things happen when George Kittle is part of the offensive game plan, particularly when he’s not being used solely as a blocker and getting a mere two targets as he did a week ago.

Instead, Kittle finished with a team-high 84 yards on four catches, and then he doubled his touchdown total on the season by adding two more during the game, including this one when he was left entirely uncovered:

San Francisco can’t afford to forget about Kittle’s presence, and it was refreshing to see him have yet another dominant outing that helped epitomized the offense’s own dominance.

Grade: A+

Offensive line

Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph was going to blitz a lot, yet Garoppolo and the rest of his blockers did a good job picking those pressures up and getting the ball out quickly.

All told, Garoppolo was mostly kept upright, and the Cardinals failed to sack him and registered only four quarterback hits.

However, what was more impressive was just how effective the 49ers offensive line was in run blocking, especially later in the game after Arizona’s defense started to tire out.

Go back and look at some of the lead blocks on that Samuel touchdown run, and you’ll see why. It’s impressive.

Aside from a handful of gaffes, including a presnap penalty on center Jake Brendel, it’s hard to fault this unit at all.

Grade: A