49ers report card
QUARTERBACKS: Jeff Garcia had one bad throw intercepted and another that should have been, but he threw two touchdown passes, had several passes dropped and guided the team 85 yards at the end of the game for the tying touchdown. Grade: B RUNNING BACKS: Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow both ran the ball well and had big plays in the running game, and both did a good job picking up blitzes to help in pass protection. Grade: A- RECEIVERS: Terrell Owens and Tai Streets both caught touchdown passes, and Cedrick Wilson had his best day as a pro - until forgetting the time element following his final reception. That mistake could have cost the Niners the game. Grade: C+ TIGHT ENDS: Jed Weaver had three receptions and his blocking helped in the running game. Grade: B OFFENSIVE LINE: Three starters failed to answer the starting bell because of injuries and the other two starters were either hurt or aggravated injuries during the game. Despite that calamity, the Niners still rushed for 148 yards and Garcia was sacked only once. Still, he was hit several times and there were five false-start penalties called on this unit. Grade: C DEFENSIVE LINE: Unit was strong against the run, especially early, but again had trouble providing heat in the pass rush, which became more of a factor as game progressed. Grade: C LINEBACKERS: Another strong effort by this unit, which played from sideline to sideline and produced four of the Niners' five sacks on blitzes. Julian Peterson again was outstanding. Jeff Ulbrich's penalty in overtime hurt. Grade: B SECONDARY: Mike Rumph got turned around on a touchdown play but continues to show progress. Unit kept speedy Rams receivers in front of them most of the day, but mistakes were critical, such as Zack Bronson's egregious interference penalty. Grade: C SPECIAL TEAMS: Bill LaFleur continues to show progress as a punter, but the same can't be said of kicker Jeff Chandler, whose missed field goal could have made the difference. Coverage units had problems and allowed long return to start overtime. Grade: C- COACHING: Great game plan, but lost the battle of adjustments at halftime. Still, the Niners were put into a position to win if execution hadn't failed. Coaches did not hesitate to pull out star players with injury concerns, but use of Garcia as a receiver was questionable after he returned from concussion-like symptoms. Grade: B OVERALL: The Niners pushed the Rams around for a good portion of this contest, but couldn't finish the job in a pivotal road game against a key opponent. Grade: C+
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