49ers report card
QUARTERBACKS: Jeff Garcia did what he could to buy time, scrambling for a team-high 40 yards. But he couldn't get much going in the passing game – his receivers didn't always help – and he failed to lead the 49ers to a touchdown in a regular-season game for the first time since 1999. Grade C- RUNNING BACKS: There wasn't much room to run, but Garrison Hearst, Kevan Barlow and Fred Beasley combined for just 32 yards on 18 carries against a defense that had been shredded for an NFL-record 295 yards by Baltimore's Jamal Lewis the week before. Beasley couldn't break the goal line on two cracks from the 1 in what proved to be a consequential early sequence. Grade: D WIDE RECEIVERS: Terrell Owens did a lot of complaining afterwards, but there was a couple of passes that he could have caught but didn't. Tai Streets had a couple of nice catches, but he and third receiver Cedrick Wilson didn't do much to take the heat off Owens. Grade: C- TIGHT ENDS: Jed Weaver caught the passes that came his way, and Aaron Walker had his first reception as a pro. Weaver isn't getting open in the red zone, and the blocking here didn't do anything to help the running game. Grade: C OFFENSIVE LINE: Garcia was sacked twice, but that's not indicative of how much he was running for his life. For the first time in a long time, this unit couldn't open holes in the running game – and this came against a defense that was last in the NFL against the run. Grade: D- DEFENSIVE LINE: Starting ends John Engelberger and Andre Carter combined for 1.5 sacks, but this unit still did little to get heat on Cleveland quarterback Kelly Holcomb when it counted in the fourth quarter. There was strong play against the run, but another incomplete effort. Grade: D LINEBACKERS: The four-headed monster of Derek Smith, Julian Peterson, Jeff Ulbrich and Jamie Winborn combined for 22 tackles, one sack, an interception and two passes knocked down. They stopped the Browns cold for three quarters, but failed to make plays with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. Grade: C SECONDARY: Mike Rumph had two interference penalties worth 48 yards of negative yardage. This unit was exposed as poor in man-to-man coverage during Cleveland's two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. If they don't get help from pressure up front, they're in trouble. Safeties Zack Bronson and Tony Parrish each made a few plays, but the winning touchdown was caught between five 49ers in the end zone. Grade: D SPECIAL TEAMS: Punter Bill LaFleur continues to shine, and Owen Pochman – after botching the opening kickoff – looks to be a dependable upgrade over the man he replaced at kicker. The coverage units were fine and Jimmy Williams is rounding into form as the punt returner, but Cedrick Wilson gives the team little returning kickoffs. Grade: B- COACHING: Dominate on defense for three quarters, then call off the aggressive tendencies that made it happen? The Niners had a similar meltdown the week before in St. Louis. And the offensive play-calling reeked. The biggest reason the Browns beat the Niners is they out-coached them. Grade: D- OVERALL: You can't flunk a team whose defense plays that well for three quarters. But losing this game at home against this opponent in this fashion could be something that haunts the 49ers the rest of the season. Grade: D-
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