49ers report card

SFI flunks the 49ers after their 34-0 flameout in Seattle - the worst shutout loss in the team's 59-year history.

QUARTERBACKS: After taking nothing but steps forward in his 2004 progression as a quarterback, Ken Dorsey finally took a step back against the Seahawks. His numbers - 19 of 32 for 153 yards passing - were surprisingly decent considering the lack of impact they had on the game. The real numbers that tell the story on Dorsey were his two interceptions and two lost fumbles. His first turnovers allowed the Seahawks an early opportunity to take command; his final turnovers prevented the Niners from putting points on the scoreboard. Dorsey held the ball too long on his fumbles and his interceptions came on a bad throw that was behind a receiver and another that was forced into double coverage in the end zone. He also missed Cedrick Wilson on a blown coverage that would have resulted in a long touchdown pass. Grade: D-

RUNNING BACKS: To be fair, there weren't many holes up front for Kevan Barlow to find running room. That said, Barlow ran tentatively and did not hit the line with his usual power and bluster. He may have been bothered by knee and rib injuries, but his 22 yards on 10 carries was one of his weakest performances to date. Jamal Robertson displayed some scoot when he got in the game and led the 49ers with 24 rushing yards, but we're still thinking here about his fumble from last week. The Niners had just 48 yards rushing on 18 carries, and they couldn't get the short yards when needed, either. Grade: D

WIDE RECEIVERS: Wilson returned after missing last week's game and again was able to get open and catch everything that came his way. He had a team-high six receptions for 57 yards and is quickly establishing himself as the Niners' best wideout. Curtis Conway didn't have much success against Seattle's fine secondary, gaining just 14 yards on his three receptions. Rashaun Woods finally got some balls thrown to him, but he tipped one in the air (it was thrown behind him) which resulted in Seattle's first interception, and he didn't make much of an effort to go up and get the ball in the end zone on the Seahawks' second interception. With regular Brandon Lloyd missing the game with a groin strain, this unit was limited to the Wilson-Conway contribution of nine catches for 71 yards. Grade: C-

TIGHT ENDS: Eric Johnson again was a dependable outlet in the passing game with five receptions, and he's on a pace for 96 receptions this season. Aaron Walker finally got his first receptions of the season, turning one of them into a nice, tackle-breaking 22-yard gain that was San Francisco's longest offensive play of the day. The blocking did little to help the running game or pass protection when these guys were held in. Grade: C+

OFFENSIVE LINE: The 49ers were missing regular starters at three positions, and it showed against Seattle's fine defensive line and blitz packages. Rookie Justin Smiley struggled noticeably at right guard, but he certainly wasn't the only one. The 49ers could get no push up front for the running game, which averaged just 2.7 yards a pop and never did what it had to do to keep the Niners in the game. Dorsey was sacked three times, two of which resulted in lost fumbles, and he was hit and harried several other times. The pocket did hold up occasionally, however, as the protection wasn't all bad. Grade: D

DEFENSIVE LINE: The team's weakest area during the summer and biggest reason for concern entering the season continues to be one of San Francisco's strengths now that the games are counting. Bryant Young appears rejuvenated up front, and he and Anthony Adams once again did a fine job plugging the middle, again getting some help from James Atkins and Tony Brown. The Niners limited Shaun Alexander to just 2.7 yards a carry. John Engelberger made plays again and was one of San Francisco's most noticeable defenders on the most dismal day so far this season for the defense. The pass rush needed to be better, but Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck got rid of the ball quickly and decisively to thwart the pressure when it was good. Grade: C+

LINEBACKERS: Julian Peterson had another yeoman performance and registered eight tackles while also recording a sack (this time, a partial sack) for the third consecutive game. Derek Smith again was heady and steady and recorded another double-digit tackle day with 10 stops. Jeff Ulbrich and Jamie Winborn also were active, combining for seven tackles. The Seahawks still rolled up 374 total yards of offense, however, so this unit must have been doing something wrong. It could have been better taking away the short lanes in coverage. Grade: C+

SECONDARY: Jimmy Williams continues to hurt the team as the nickel back, getting torched for a 60-yard reception that led to one touchdown, then getting flagged for pass interference on a third-and-11 play that set up Seattle's third touchdown when the Niners still were ostensibly in the game. Tony Parrish finally began showing some flashes of his 2003 form, but he also still displayed a little rust despite his 10 tackles. The biggest contributions made by safeties Ronnie Heard and Dwaine Carpenter were tackles after opponents recorded receptions in front of them. Ahmed Plummer made a few nice plays, but he also was beaten on others, and would have surrendered an early touchdown had Darrell Jackson not dropped a pass. The real revelation here was rookie Shawntae Spencer, who displayed some fine coverage skills while breaking up two passes and finishing with five tackles. When Mike Rumph returns, Spencer should become the team's third cornerback. Grade: D

SPECIAL TEAMS: Todd Peterson had a chance to put points on the board in the second quarter, but he got a little bit underneath his 46-yard field-goal attempt and it hit the crossbar. Otherwise, there was little to note of significance here. The Niners' return teams weren't tested because San Francisco was turning the ball over instead. Robertson and Arnaz Battle again offered little in the return game. Punter Andy Lee continued his progress with a 42.3 average on seven kicks, including a 60-yarder and three downed inside the Seattle 20. Grade: C-

COACHING: Once again, an opponent was able to jump on the Niners from the start, and this time there were no adjustments that allowed San Francisco to roar back and make a game of it. It's tough for coaches to make things happen when so many key players are injured and the team makes four turnovers, but the Niners seemed to lose their fight after halftime, and a San Francisco offense that doesn't score for the first time in 27 years has to bear some responsibility on the men calling the plays. Grade: D-

OVERALL: It's difficult to find any redeeming qualities on this Blanked Sunday for the 49ers. There were a few plays by some defenders that stood out. That's it. And that's really, really bad. This was the worst shutout loss in San Francisco's 59-year history, and the end of the team's glorious, NFL-record, 27-year, 420-game scoring streak can lead to only one final mark to evaluate this dismal performance: Grade: F


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