49ers 10, Cardinals 17: Grades

What an interesting loss.
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Glendale, AZ -- The 49ers just lost 17-10 to the undefeated Arizona Cardinals, and now are 2-3 as they enter their Bye week on a three-game losing streak. Here are the 49ers' grades for this loss.


You can't say he was good. His passer rating was 58.4, he threw an interception, he bungled a fourth-and-1 play at the goal line, he led the offense to just 10 points and he lost. But you can't say he was bad, either. He gained a whopping 281 of the 49ers' 338 total yards, which means 83 percent of the time 49ers moved the ball, they moved it because of Lance. He was their offense. He certainly wasn't the problem. He was under constant pressure, he avoided numerous sacks -- the fact that he got sacked only twice is remarkable -- and he made big plays with his arm and legs on the road in his first career start against the best team in the league. And he didn't have George Kittle, or a competent game plan. More on that below.

Had Jimmy Garoppolo started this game, the offense might have performed even worse, considering Garoppolo is an injury-prone sitting duck in the pocket and the Cardinals have a phenomenal pass rush. But the 49ers issues on offense aren't Garoppolo or Lance. The issues are systemic. Garoppolo played well this season before he got injured, and Lance played well enough to win this game. He should start again after the Bye week -- imagine how much better he will play at home with one start under his belt and an extra week to prepare for a much worse team than Arizona. I predict the 49ers will sit Garoppolo for at least one more game to let his calf injury heal, and Lance will start against the Colts.


Elijah Mitchell averaged a terrific 4.8 yards per carry but the 49ers gave him only nine carries. His coach failed him.


They had seven catches, and some were extremely difficult down the field, but they also had three drops. Mohamed Sanu dropped one on third and long that would have moved the chains.


Kittle didn't play, and neither Ross Dwelley nor Charlie Woerner receieved a target until the second half. Big oversight by the coach. Dwelley is a weapon as a receiver. As a blocker, he committed a holding penalty.


Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey each committed two holding penalties. Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt dominated them. McGlinchey also committed a false start and gave up a sack. His awfulness can never be overstated. And the rest of the offensive line stinks, too. They couldn't keep the Cardinals' defensive linemen's hands down, and allowed at least five passes to get tipped at the line of scrimmage. Just horrendous.


Nick Bosa and D.J. Jones both were outstanding and each recorded a sack. Arik Armstead was good, too, as he never let Kyler Murray escape the pocket. As a group, they gave up only one rushing yard to Murray and just 3.5 yards per carry to the Cardinals. This was by far the best performance this defensive line has produced in quite some time.


Fred Warner recorded a team-high nine tackles and also helped make sure Murray stayed in the pocket. Warner still is an elite player.

CORNERBACKS: C-PLUS. Josh Norman comitted a pass interfernce penalty, a holding penalty and gave up the game-losing touchdown catch catch to DeAndre Hopkins. Norman picked the wrong play not to grab or hold. He was the weakest link in this group against Arizona -- not backup nickelback Dontae Johnson, who forced the 49ers only turnover of the game, a fumble they recovered. Johnson was a hero.


Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward combined to record 13 tackles, which is terrific. But Ward gave up a long catch to Hopkins during Arizona's final scoring drive.


They were good whenever the coach used them, which wasn't often, considering the 49ers went for it on fourth down five times and converted just once.


DeMeco Ryans was just phenomenal. He essentially shut down the best offense in the league and the MVP front runner. Not too shabby. It looks like he's a star and Robert Saleh groomed him well.

The head coach, however, was dreadful. Kyle Shanahan called a pass-heavy game even though he has the youngest quarterback to ever start a game in 49ers history, a run-first system and a defense that was almost lights out. Everyone expected lots of runs and play-action passes, i.e. the Shanahan offense. Instead, we got lots of passes and scrambles. Call it the Bananahan offense. He also went for it on 4th and 4 from the Cardinals 48-yard line when losing by just three points with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter rather than punting and pinning the Cardinals deep in their territory and trusting the dominant 49ers defense to prevent a long touchdown drive. No, Shanahan called a freaking pass for an offense that can't pass protect, and Lance's arm got hit as he threw. Genius.

For the first five weeks of the season, Shanahan has been the biggest problem with the 49ers offense and their team in general. Both of his quarterbacks have played well. His rookie defensive coordinator has been terrific. Meanwhile, Shanahan's offense is an undisciplined, mistake-prone mess and his decision making has become more erratic than ever.

Let's see how he loses the next game for the 49ers.