49ers report card
QUARTERBACKS: Even on a day when nothing seemed to be going right, Jeff Garcia had a heroic effort while leading a late comeback on a bad ankle that kept him out the first two series of the second half. He never seemed to get things clicking in the passing game, but provided many of the few highlights for San Francisco's offense with his feet. He led the Niners with 44 yards rushing, including a 21-yard touchdown run. He fumbled near the goal line on another run, but that was taken into the end zone for another touchdown by rookie tackle Kwame Harris. Garcia's passing numbers - 13 of 24 for 153 yards - were nothing special. Tim Rattay looked shaky during his brief stint. Grade: C+ RUNNING BACKS: After running over the Tampa Bay defense last week, there simply weren't many holes this time for tailbacks Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow, who combined for just 62 yards rushing on 23 carries. They also combined for five receptions for 51 yards, but the Niners just couldn't spring them loose. Grade: C+ WIDE RECEIVERS: Terrell Owens had what would have been a nice over-the-shoulder touchdown catch taken away by instant replay. It appeared he was pushed out of bounds after making the catch with one foot in the end zone. He had six receptions for 53 yards and Tai Streets had two catches for 21 yards on a quiet day by the receivers, who appeared to be under-utilized. Grade: C+ TIGHT ENDS: Jed Weaver had one catch for 13 yards and he dropped another. His blocking did nothing to help the running game, though he was the recipient of two personal foul penalties that kept alive San Francisco's final touchdown drive. Grade: C OFFENSIVE LINE: Rookie Kwame Harris displayed good instincts and reaction when he grabbed Garcia's fumble in the air and took it into the end zone. That was the highlight of the day for a line that mysteriously struggled against an Arizona defense that entered the game last in the NFL in sacks per play and had been nothing special in other departments. The pass protection was shaky at best, the great blocking for the run game disappeared and there were a few false-start penalties as well: Grade: D DEFENSIVE LINE: An Arizona offense that was 26th overall in the NFL and 32nd - dead last - in rushing was able to run on this unit all day as halfback Marcel Shipp gorged the Niners for a career-high 165 yards rushing. Quarterback Jeff Blake and third-string tailback Damien Anderson also broke loose for key big runs. There also wasn't great pressure applied to Blake, who was sacked only once. Tackle Bryant Young had another nice effort, but it wasn't enough to save a lousy day by this unit. Grade: D LINEBACKERS: Jamie Winborn, Julian Peterson, Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich usually were there to clean up the mess after Arizona backs had ripped off respectable gains. That quartet combined for 29 tackles and was busy all day. But some of those tackles came after other tackles were missed by linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage. The big plays that usually come from this unit were few and far between this time, and Blake broke free from containment for some huge first downs late in the game that ultimately allowed the Cards to pull out the victory. Grade: C SECONDARY: Strong safety Tony Parrish had a big day with 10 tackles, another indication of how deep Arizona was moving into the heart of San Francisco's defense. Ronnie Heard had a nice interception in place of injured safety Zack Bronson before Heard, too, was injured in overtime. Mike Rumph and Ahmed Plummer each had another quality game at cornerback, though Plummer had a crucial interference penalty in overtime that kept Arizona's final drive moving. Grade: C+ SPECIAL TEAMS: Two missed field goals. A botched PAT attempt. A blocked punt deep in San Francisco territory that led to an Arizona field goal. The kickoff to open overtime kicked out of bounds. This was a nightmare for the 49ers, and it cost them a victory. Grade: F COACHING: Even though the Niners attempted to guard against a letdown all last week, the team didn't appear ready to play against what should have been an overmatched opponent. Why the Niners never could find ways to take advantage of particular areas of Arizona's suspect defense - particularly getting the ball to their big-play receivers - was a mystery. The Niners stacked the line to prevent the run late in the game, and that seemed to make a difference. It's difficult to blame coaches for relying on their kicker to make seemingly routine kicks. Grade: C- OVERALL: A gritty performance by a defense having a bad day kept the 49ers in this one and gave them a legitimate chance to win at the end. That's the only thing that prevents this effort from being a total failure. If the 49ers can't beat one of the worst teams in the NFL - particularly a week after building momentum with their stirring victory over Tampa Bay - what does that make them? Grade: D-
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