49ers report card: Grades for offense, defense in ugly Week 3 loss to Broncos

Grading 49ers' offense, defense in ugly Week 3 loss to Broncos originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

DENVER -- Even the score, 11-10, looks ugly.

Oh, brother, was this ever an ugly one.

The 49ers’ offense was as bad as possible, considering these are football players who get paid to play the game.

But the 49ers’ defense played well — until it didn’t.

And that’s the story of the 49ers’ loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday night in Week 3.

Now, onto the grades . . .

Rushing offense

Running back Jeff Wilson got his second start and he had some success early in the game, highlighted by a 37-yard running play that got the 49ers within striking range for their first and only touchdown of the game.

Wilson finished the game with 75 yards on 12 rushing attempts. The 49ers could not find any consistency with their running game.

Deebo Samuel did not find much room to run, as he gained just 6 yards on five rushing attempts.

Jimmy Garoppolo fumbled the exchange with center Jake Brendel for the team’s first giveaway of the game.

Grade: D-plus

Passing offense

This was an absolute stinker for Garoppolo, making his first start of the season in Week 3 after not taking any snaps at all during training camp.

It showed. The 49ers lacked rhythm.

Garoppolo completed 18 of 29 pass attempts for 211 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception. He also had the most embarrassing play of his NFL career, when he took a drop all the way out the back of the end zone.

The 49ers had two critical turnovers late in the fourth quarter. Former 49ers linebacker Jonas Griffith had an interception, and Wilson lost a fumble late in the game after catching a short pass.

Garoppolo was also sacked four times for minus-32 yards, and the 49ers converted just one of 10 third-down attempts. The 49ers’ offensive line, which played well in the first two games of the season, was one of the many areas of the team that did not play well.

Grade: F

Rushing defense

Other than Melvin Gordon’s 1-yard touchdown run to provide the Broncos with the go-ahead points in the fourth quarter, there is not much negative to say about the 49ers’ run defense.

Jevonte Williams gained 58 yards on 15 carries, and Gordon had 26 yards on 12 attempts.

Grade: A-minus

Passing defense

Where the 49ers could have done better was in the takeaway category. The 49ers had some opportunities to come up with turnovers, but they never cashed in.

Nick Bosa, Drake Jackson, Kerry Hyder and Kevin Givens had sacks. The pass rush put the clamps on Russell Wilson for most of the game.

But Wilson came through with a couple of big plays when the Broncos needed them most. He helped engineer an 80-yard drive that produced the go-ahead touchdown.

Wilson completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 184 yards with no touchdown passes and no interceptions.

This was the 18th time in 22 games that a Wilson-led team has defeated the 49ers. Wilson dominated the 49ers during his decade-long stay with the Seattle Seahawks.

Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had a strong game with a 44.7 yards net average on seven punts, including three inside the 20-yard line.

Sam Womack made one of the better special teams play you’ll see when he saved Wishnowsky’s punt from going into the end zone for a touchback. He batted it back into the field of play. Ross Dwelley downed it inside the 1-yard line.

Robbie Gould made a 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Grade: B-plus


Coach Kyle Shanahan has to take the blame for the offense’s inability to ever get anything going.

Shanahan made a questionable decision in the first half when he declined a holding penalty on third down that would have pushed the Broncos out of field goal range. That decision enabled Broncos kicker Brandon McManus to kick a 55-yard field goal.

It was an understandable decision, as Shanahan said he did not want to put his defense in a position where Wilson could make a play to gain a first down.

Shanahan took the blame for putting Garoppolo in a bad position with his play call backed up deep in Broncos territory. That play resulted in a safety.

The 49ers could never get in a rhythm. Of course, a lot of that has to fall on the coaching staff. They did not push the right buttons, and nothing they did seemed to cause any issues for the Broncos defense.

Grade: F


It really does not get much worse than this. The Broncos’ offense was so futile for most of the game that their own fans were booing them.

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But the 49ers’ offense allowed Denver to stick around long enough for Wilson to figure things out.

The 49ers’ offense looked dull and uninteresting. It was a thoroughly abysmal performance on that side of the ball.

Grade: F

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