Sports

Report card: Grading 49ers blowout win over Panthers

The 49ers blew out the Carolina Panthers, 51-13, improving to 7-0 while continuing their best start since 1990.

Here are our grades.

Passing offense: B

Jimmy Garoppolo threw a bad interception on his first pass of the second possession, but was solid in the first half, throwing for 134 yards and two touchdowns while completing passes to six different targets. He finished with one of his most efficient performances of the season, completing 18 of 22 for 175 yards with two touchdown passes, one to new receiver Emmanuel Sanders on the first series, and another to Tevin Coleman on a screen. Garoppolo’s 111.2 passer rating was his second highest of the season. He was replaced by Nick Mullens midway through the fourth quarter.

Rushing offense: A+

Three of Coleman’s four touchdowns came on the ground, including his 48-yard scamper in the second quarter that made it 27-3. San Francisco averaged 7.9 yards per carry at halftime. The 49ers made it a 34-13 game on a tricky misdirection handoff inside to rookie receiver Deebo Samuel that went for 20 yards. Coleman finished with 105 rushing yards and 13 receiving yards in his best game since joining San Francisco. Matt Breida sustained an ankle injury on the last play of the first half and didn’t return, which led to Raheem Mostert getting San Francisco to 51 points with his long touchdown run in garbage time. The 49ers finished with 232 yards on the ground, which an outstanding total considering it was the third straight game they were missing both starting tackles, Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey, plus their fullback Kyle Juszczyk.

Passing defense: A+

The 49ers had six sacks in the first half, including three from Nick Bosa and two from Arik Armstead, with four coming on third down. Kyle Allen had 101 yards and his first career interception which went to cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, who has played well in place of starter Ahkello Witherspoon. It was Moseley’s first career pick. Richard Sherman added his third INT of the year. And then Bosa leaped to intercept a screen pass and went 46 yards the other way, setting up a Robbie Gould field goal.

Rushing defense: B-

Christian McCaffrey had just 21 yards on the ground at the break, but then burned the 49ers for a 40-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. It was just the second rushing touchdown San Francisco had allowed all season, and McCaffrey made it a 14-point game with the 2-point conversion. But the 49ers scored 24 unanswered points thereafter to reinforce the blowout. McCaffrey ended up with 117 yards on 14 carries, becoming the first 100-yard rusher the 49ers have allowed this season.

Special teams: B

The 49ers botched an extra point following Coleman’s long touchdown in the first snap by long snapper Kyle Nelson in his return from a 10-game suspension. Gould made five extra points otherwise. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had three punts that put Carolina inside their 20-yard line, and a big hit on a kick off return that was flagged for leading with his helmet. Richie James Jr. averaged 8.2 yards on six punt returns.

Coaching: A+

The Panthers came into game as the best defense San Francisco had faced yet. And after averaging fewer than 3.0 yards per carry the past two weeks, Kyle Shanahan dialed up a masterpiece. He did it with more quick passes and smart runs. He got Sanders up to date quickly enough to contribute with a touchdown on his first drive. He found ways to get George Kittle open for 86 yards on six catches, and created easy completions for Garoppolo despite not being able to use long-developing passing plays because Carolina had advantages on the edges over Justin Skule and Daniel Brusnkill. Better yet, the game was so lopsided Shanahan rested a slew of starters for most of the fourth quarter with a game looming Thursday night in Arizona.

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Chris Biderman has covered the 49ers since 2013 and began covering the team for The Sacramento Bee in August 2018. He previously spent time with the Associated Press and USA TODAY Sports Media Group. A Santa Rosa native, he graduated with a degree in journalism from The Ohio State University.
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