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49ers defensive report card vs. Cardinals in Week 17

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The 49ers escaped Arizona with a 23-20 win on Sunday afternoon. Here are the grades for the defense and special teams:

Defensive Line: D

The pass rush was completely gone unless the 49ers chose to blitz. Carson Palmer has been labeled as one of the most un-mobile quarterbacks in the league and they failed to get pressure on him when they should have. If the 49ers blitzed, Palmer and the Cardinals countered it with a quick pass that usually fell incomplete.

Linebackers: B+

The Cardinals handled Aldon Smith well when it came to pass protection. NaVorro Bowman had another exceptional game with an interception, forced fumble, sack and fumble recovery on Sunday while Patrick Willis did a good job in coverage and run stopping. Ahmad Brooks kept everything in front of him, but couldn't get any pass rushing on Palmer. Bowman made his case to be the defensive player of the year which is an award he could win.

Secondary: D-

Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald burned the secondary and the 49ers gave up several passes in the second half. A lot of this falls on Carlos Rogers, who was the consistent target on defense. Anytime a defense gives up 400 passing yards automatically warrants a below average grade.

Special Teams: B

Coverage units on both punts and kickoffs were terrific. Andy Lee was responsible for a missed field goal with a bad snap while he also shanked a punt that led to a game-tying Cardinals FG. Phil Dawson made the three field goals that mattered from 27, 56 and lastly 41 yards.

Coaching: C

San Francisco gave up lots of yards to the Cardinals, but much of this is due to the fact their defense was on the field too much. They were a little soft and execution was bad in the second half, but the 49ers caught two breaks in the game when Jay Feely missed two field goals on Sunday. Pass rushing was poor and the pass defense was struggling, but the 49ers were able to bend and not break when it mattered most.

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For grades on the 49ers offense, click here.

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