The 49ers defeated the Cardinals 32-20 on Sunday afternoon. Here are the grades for the defense and special teams:
Defensive Line: D
Much of the Cardinals production on the ground was due to the injury of Glenn Dorsey in the first half. They took advantage of this by giving it to Andre Ellington who had a good day. This was a tough game for the defensive line as Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs were forced to take more snaps than usual as well as an injured Ray McDonald playing through a torn biceps. The Cardinals won the battle up front in the ground attack as Ellington averaged eight yards per carry.
The Cardinals' running backs were going through the linebackers quite a bit, but this unit made plays when they needed to which prevents this grade from being lower. Patrick Willis stripped the ball from Larry Fitzgerald which ended any hope for Arizona. Corey Lemonier did well as a pass rusher and sacked Carson Palmer in the end zone for a safety. If this unit was able to stop the run more than they did, the grade would be bumped to a "B".
It was either feast or famine for the secondary with shutting the opposition down or allowing big plays. The secondary forced turnovers with an interception by both Eric Reid and Carlos Rogers. Tarell Brown had a good game where he defended any deep pass. The big mistakes prevent this grade from being an "A" as Donte Whitner and Tramaine Brock tried to knock the ball loose from Larry Fitzgerald which led to a 75-yard catch and run touchdown. Rogers also allowed a 53-yard reception to Brittan Golden. Had Carson Palmer been more accurate with his receivers who were open, the secondary could have been at fault for a potential loss.
Special Teams: A-
Phil Dawson was perfect when converting three field goals off of three opportunities. Andy Lee averaged 48 yards a punt and was even forced to pooch it a few times. Kyle Williams had one solid kick return but also muffed another kickoff which led to the 49ers starting on their own six-yard line. Coverage units were solid everywhere as there was only one 18 yard return by Patrick Peterson which lowers this grade a tad.
The defense made the stops they needed to when their defensive line was hurting and toughed it out as Jim Harbaugh said. They had the right approach to stop the Cardinals offense and were able to take advantage of poor decisions by Carson Palmer. The run stopping was a problem, but the injury to Dorsey made this performance forgiving. Fangio had the right game plan, but executing became difficult for the middle portion of the game.
For grades on the 49ers offense, click here.