49ers report card

Handing out another set of lowly grades nobody among the 49ers would want to take home to mom and dad:

QUARTERBACKS: Tim Rattay took another step backward, making erratic throws and poor decisions that stymied the offense. He seldom had time to set up in the pocket and his receivers couldn't get open, but he lacked poised under those conditions and appeared overmatched by the circumstances of the game. He was 15 of 31 through the air for 147 yards, completing fewer than half his passes for the first time this season. He threw another killer interception that was returned for a touchdown, but this time it just added insult to another discouraging performance, since Tampa Bay already led 28-3 at the time. Grade: F

RUNNING BACKS: It was the usual from Kevan Barlow, losing yardage on carries just about as often as he produced positive yardage. Barlow's stretch of consecutive carries to end the second quarter – which produced minus-2, minus-2, zero and minus-1 yards – typified another day of regression for the Niners' starting tailback. To be fair, Barlow often was getting hit as soon as he was handed the ball. But he also dropped two passes and gained just 19 yards on the five he caught. Maurice Hicks again came in and made things happen in place of Barlow, leading the team with 36 yards rushing and 37 receiving, which raises this final grade. Grade: D-

RECEIVERS: Working against a fine secondary and tough cornerbacks, these guys simply couldn't get open. Maybe it was because they weren't getting enough time to do so, but getting just two receptions for 15 yards from starting wideouts Brandon Lloyd and Cedrick Wilson was pathetic. These receivers can say that they make plays when given the opportunity, but sometimes they need to put themselves in position for those opportunities. Rashaun Woods' 32-yard reception during fourth-quarter mop-up duty was a positive, but it was the only other catch of the game for this unit. Grade: F

TIGHT ENDS: Eric Johnson caught one pass, couldn't make what would have been a tough grab of another and otherwise struggled against the Tampa Bay defense like the rest of his teammates. He also was manhandled a few times when the Niners kept him in for pass protection. Grade: D

OFFENSIVE LINE: This unit was overmatched from start to finish. We could single out individuals here, but they all took part in the fiasco that saw Rattay get sacked five times and seldom ever have enough time to look for receivers. This unit struggled against Tampa Bay's front four and was helpless when the Bucs sent linebackers and defensive backs on blitzes. Rookie Justin Smiley had a few nice moments firing out on blocks. For the rest of this unit, this afternoon was eminently forgettable. Grade: F

DEFENSIVE LINE: Once again, this unit is judged on the pressure it got on the quarterback, which once again wasn't any good. Chris Cooper got in for a sack, but that was it as Brian Griese – a journeyman NFL quarterback – looked like a Pro Bowler while carving apart San Francisco's defense. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and also tossed two basically unforced interceptions. Just think what might have been possible if this unit had actually pressured him? There also were plenty of open lanes for Tampa Bay to rush for 159 yards. Grade: D-

LINEBACKERS: Usually the saving grace of the defense, this unit often got sealed off by Tampa Bay's running game and didn't make the plays it usually does. Derek Smith, Jeff Ulbrich and Jamie Winborn combined for 18 tackles, but most of them came too far down the field as this unit had no impact for one of the few times this season. It also didn't make plays in pass coverage when the Bucs went underneath, including a 9-yard touchdown pass to Joe Jurevicius when Smith didn't get a good enough drop into the middle lanes. Grade: D-

SECONDARY: Tony Parrish had his first two interceptions of the season – one of them in the San Francisco end zone – and that helped prevent the outcome from being even more lopsided. The secondary allowed Jurevicius to run free for a 42-yard touchdown reception, and cornerbacks Shawtae Spencer and Joselio Hanson, while they weren't terrible, were no match for Jurevicius and rookie receiver Michael Clayton, who were able to make plays whenever it counted. The Bucs converted on 7 of 12 third-down situations, and a lot of times that was because the secondary couldn't make plays in those situations, though the unit got very little help from the pass rush. Grade: D+

SPECIAL TEAMS: Andy Lee stepped into a booming 81-yard punt, the third-longest in team history. He also had punts of 46, 47 and 53 yards. Todd Peterson fell well short on a 50-yard field-goal attempt but drilled a 47-yarder to prevent the Niners from being shut out. San Francisco's coverage units were again solid, though the return game made no impact. Grade: C+

COACHING: Once again, this unit wasn't up to the task of formulating the necessary strategy to keep the 49ers in the game. But how much of that can you keep blaming on coaching? The Niners tried max-protection formations to give Rattay time to throw, and even that didn't work. Considering how limited the Niners have become with the players they are putting on the field, it's difficult to point to coaching as the reason for San Francisco's demise. Still, these guys are getting paid to come up with ways to keep the Niners competitive, and they – like the players – aren't getting it done. Grade: D

OVERALL: The Niners made it to Tampa Bay for the opening kickoff, but they never really showed up for this one. Or maybe showing up is all you could ask from this team in this game. The Niners looked helpless again and were thoroughly overmatched in practically every area by a 3-6 team. This certainly ranks up there with the 34-0 loss to Seattle as San Francisco's very worst performance in a season that already has had plenty of bad ones. Grade: F


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