49ers report card
RUSHING OFFENSE: On three of their first four offensive series – even after they had fallen behind 14-0 – the 49ers came out and predictably handed the football on both first and second down to Kevan Barlow, who plodded into the line to set up a third-and-long situation. The 49ers will have to be a little more imaginative than that if they want to get a power rushing attack going. Barlow actually ran hard and showed a few sparks while finishing with 34 yards on 10 carries. But he seldom finds any holes in front of him, and the run-blocking was horrible against a defense that had been carved up against the run six days earlier. The numbers told the story – 58 yards rushing and a 3.4 average aren't going to get it done. Grade: D- PASSING OFFENSE: After a promising opener, Tim Rattay regressed Sunday against the Eagles, and it cost the 49ers any chance to stay in the game. His three first-half interceptions were terrible, uncertain throws, and he had receivers open on at least two of them. This is as shaky as Rattay ever has looked in a game, and that must be disturbing to the Niners, who need him to produce until Alex Smith is ready to take over. Rattay was sacked three times but had time to throw on other occasions, so that's not an excuse, although the Eagles started coming harder once they had the big lead and knew the 49ers had to throw. Arnaz Battle led the way with four receptions for 44 yards, and Brandon Lloyd had one of his signature one-handed catches. Lloyd also slipped free in one-on-one coverage a few times – once working free in the end zone – but Rattay couldn't get him the ball. That was a standard theme on this afternoon. Grade: F RUSHING DEFENSE: There was some fight early, but once the game began to get out of hand the rushing defense broke down along with the rest of the team. The linebackers were making tackles but often doing it too far down field in an effort that was far below their fine opening-game performance. There also were some missed tackles that were reminiscent of last year's shoddy defensive effort. The Eagles averaged 4.7 yards on their 30 rushing attempts, not they needed it, considering the way their passing game clicked. Grade: D- PASSING DEFENSE: After a resilient bend-but-don't-break effort in the opener against a quality passing team, the Niners absolutely fell flat in their encore against another one. Everybody was responsible – cornerbacks got beaten, safeties took bad angles, and linebackers were assignment-poor as tight ends and running backs slipped free to find openings and sustain drives all afternoon. The scheme to keep a defender in front of Terrell Owens and behind him obviously was unsuccessful. The Niners were picked apart by Donovan McNabb and offered very little resistance to three Philadelphia quarterbacks while allowing 458 yards passing – the second-most allowed in the 60-year history of the San Francisco franchise. That number right there says it all. Grade: F SPECIAL TEAMS: Playing against Philadelphia specialty units that are regarded among the best in the NFL, the 49ers experienced none of the success they had returning kicks the previous week. But they were otherwise solid and did a fine job covering kicks, which is the season pattern so far. Andy Lee had a strong 43.1 average on his punts and dropped three inside the 20-yard line. The Eagles averaged only 3.3 yards on four punt returns. And kicker Joe Nedney prevented a shutout by splitting the uprights with a routine 32-yard field goal. This was not a bad effort by special teams, but those units had no impact on the outcome of the game. Grade: B- COACHING: Well, now the new coaching staff knows what it's up against. But where was the innovation when the 49ers needed it this time? There were no adjustments made to counter the things Philadelphia was doing on either side of the football, not even at halftime when the Niners had more time to mull over such moves. The 49ers needed to pull out more stops on offense to stay in the game early – like they did a week ago – but instead they called runs into the line on both first- and second-down three times in their first four offensive series. That's no way to jump-start a lagging offense. The coaches were able to lift their players against a better team last week, but found it difficult to do so this time as the 49ers became deflated early, particularly younger players, and veterans no doubt sensed the same feelings they experienced last year. But that's not totally the coaches' fault, and neither is it when their players simply don't perform. Still, this was an awakening for Mike Nolan and his staff as much as it was for the rest of the team. Grade D OVERALL: Will the real 49ers please stand up? Wait, don't answer that. This might be the real 49ers. After their rousing opening effort, this was a depressing letdown, even if it might have been a bit predictable. But nobody could have predicted the Niners would be throttled like this. It was embarrassing to see San Francisco manhandled in such fashion – even by one of the NFL's best teams – and, even though Nolan said his team fought to the finish, it didn't always look that way. When you're out-gained in a NFL game by 441 yards, it really can't get any worse. Grade: F
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