49ers report card

Grading the Niners after their 24-17 loss to Seattle in Saturday's season finale, a game that typified San Francisco's 2003 campaign in a nutshell.

QUARTERBACK: Jeff Garcia entered this game on a hot streak that appeared to re-establish his hold on the job, but he faltered against the Seahawks, misfiring several times and making a few horrible throws that were consequential in the outcome. He threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns, but he was not as good as his numbers might suggest. His final pass of the season – a weak throw that skipped in front of Tai Streets on a fourth-and-1 play on San Francisco's final drive – seemed to typify his season. Grade: C-

RUNNING BACK: Kevan Barlow got dinged early, and he was limited to just 40 yards on 14 carries while surpassing the 1,000-yard barrier. His deficiencies in pass protection once again were evident, but he led the Niners with six receptions. Jamal Robertson carried five times for zero yards. To be fair, there wasn't much room to run. Grade: C-

WIDE RECEIVER: Brandon Lloyd had a 44-yard reception and a spectacular, highlight-reel catch in a pivotal situation when the Niners were attempting to drive for a tying touchdown at the finish. Cedrick Wilson had five receptions and slipped loose for a 14-yard scoring catch. Tai Streets was relatively invisible with two receptions for 11 yards. Wilson and Streets both were flagged for offensive pass interference, with the Niners failing to score following Streets' penalty after reaching the Seattle 2-yard line. Grade: B-

TIGHT ENDS: Jed Weaver had another productive game as a receiver, contributing his first touchdown reception of the season. He also had a few nice blocks. Aaron Walker made a nice fingertip grab on his 26-yard reception. Grade: B+

OFFENSIVE LINE: Lots of struggles here against a defense that is nothing special. The Niners could get nothing going in their running game, even though they continually tried to hammer the middle. Garcia was sacked three times, and there was a false start by Scott Gragg on a third-and-7 play. Garcia was sacked on the next play and the Niners had to punt after they'd reached midfield. Grade: D-

DEFENSIVE LINE: Unit was tough against the run early, but things regressed from there. Shaun Alexander did damage on the ground in the second half, and pressure on Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was virtually nonexistent as the game progressed, allowing him to pick the Niners apart and rally Seattle from an early two-touchdown deficit. Grade: D-

LINEBACKERS: Derek Smith had 10 tackles, Jeff Ulbrich had a sack and an interception and Julian Peterson was active in coverage and chasing down plays against the run. But like rest of defense, unit came up short on making plays when the game was being decided in the second half. Grade: C

SECONDARY: Tony Parrish had a game-high 11 tackles and knocked away two passes, and his partner at safety, Dwaine Carpenter, had nine tackles. Mike Rumph had seven tackles but also experienced several struggles in coverage, including allowing separation late on a play that resulted in Seattle's first touchdown. Jason Webster was pesky in coverage, had an interception and knocked away two passes, but also was beaten for a touchdown despite tight coverage. Ahmed Plummer was flagged for pass interference before leaving with a neck sprain. Grade: C-

SPECIAL TEAMS: A missed 29-yard field goal and short kickoffs by Todd Peterson. Lousy, inconsistent punting from Bill LaFleur. Very little in the return game. The coverage units again were adequate to solid, and Derek Smith forced a fumble that was recovered by Ronnie Heard, but that didn't make up for these units once again letting down the 49ers, just as they have all season. Grade: D-

COACHING: Niners had success when they blitzed on defense, but they didn't do it enough, and the results were predictable. Once Seattle defense made adjustments at halftime, the offensive plan failed to react and became predictable and deflated. The Niners probably had time to try one more pass into the end zone before halftime on a drive in which they scored no points. There was inconsistency in approach throughout the game, and the Niners never did get in any sustained rhythm. Grade: D

OVERALL: Mistakes. Inconsistency. Blown opportunities. Failures in a close contest. In so many ways, this game was San Francisco's season in a nutshell. Incapable of winning this finale at home after grabbing a 14-point lead in the second quarter, the Niners got the losing record they deserved in 2003. Grade: D

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