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49ers defensive grades vs. Falcons in Week 16

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Here are the grades for the defense in the 49ers 34-24 win over the Falcons:

Defensive Line: B-

The 49ers did well against the run, but there was an issue when it came to pass rushing, which was non-existent. Justin Smith had the only sack and I saw the defensive line get blocked for majority of the game.

Linebackers: B

If I was grading Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman alone, they would get an A+ guaranteed. Unfortunately I saw no presence from Ahmad Brooks or Aldon Smith when it came to pass rushing. Willis and Bowman were all over the field and eventually were rewarded with the pick-six by the latter. Matt Ryan unfortunately had all day to throw the ball, which is why the pass rushing will be a concern for games in the postseason.

Secondary: D-

Roddy White torched this unit and Drew Davis had a 59-yard reception to silence the crowd. Carlos Rogers was the biggest culprit from the mistakes in the secondary which included a dropped interception. Donte Whitner was wrongfully flagged for what was a legal hit below the chin level. Eric Reid allowed his first touchdown on a deep pass to White. Tramaine Brock made the play that mattered most when stripping the ball from Harry Douglas to set up NaVorro Bowman’s interception.

Special Teams: D+

Phil Dawson was perfect making two field goals, but the punt coverage unit gave up a huge return by Robert McClain. Andy Lee had one touchback but averaged 52 yards per punt. What really dampens this grade was Bowman missing the onside kick which fell between the 49ers on the line. With no backup, Jason Snelling was able to grab the loose ball and Atlanta recovered the onside kick.

Coaching: B-

The defense gave up their plays in the first half but mostly stood firm in only allowing 10 points. They were able to get two stops before the Falcons scored two touchdowns and almost had a third. Vic Fangio was outcoached by the Falcons offensive attack, but one play made the difference, which will be remembered in Candlestick Park lore forever. He called the right play in staying tight with the Falcons receivers to prevent a short pass for a first down.

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For 49ers grades on the offense, click here.

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