49ers 20, Cardinals 12: Grades

One of the most impressive wins of the Kyle Shanahan Era, all things considered.
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The 49ers just exposed the Arizona Cardinals for the frauds they are. This win doesn't mean anything for the 49ers, because they can't make the playoffs, but it's one of the most impressive wins of the Kyle Shanahan Era, all things considered.

Here are the 49ers' grades:

C.J. BEATHARD: A.

What an impressive performance. It was Beathard's first start in more than two years, he took over an offense that had beaten itself consistently all season, and faced a playoff contender. And he won. He did his job. He was poised. And he didn't make many mistakes. There were two plays at the end of the first half when he almost threw a pick-six and then fumbled, but those mistakes didn't cost the 49ers any points. And Beathard shook off those mistakes and played well in the second half. Finished the game with 13 completions for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns. Good for him. By far the best performance of his career.

RUNNING BACKS: A-PLUS-PLUS.

Kyle Juszczyk caught two touchdown passes and picked up a first down on the ground. The 49ers offense is so much better when he gets the ball consistently. And Jeff Wilson Jr. was the best player on the field. He ran for 183 yards -- 8.3 per carry -- and caught a touchdown pass as well. He can do everything -- run violently between the tackles, run outside the tackles, run routes, catch passes and block. He and Raheem Mostert will form an elite 1-2 punch next season. And JaMycal Hasty will be a good No. 3 running back. The 49ers are set at this position.

WIDE RECEIVERS: D.

Brandon Aiyuk had one catch and one drop. And Kendrick Bourne had one catch and one false start. Not a good game for either player.

TIGHT ENDS:  A.

George Kittle dropped a pass in the fourth quarter, but still finished the game with four catches for 92 yards. And his run-blocking was elite. He played his little heart out in a meaningless game. Respect.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: C.

This group still can't pass protect to save its collective lives, and Mike McGlinchey was responsible for the one turnover of the game -- Beathard's fumble. But the run blocking was terrific.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: A.

Arik Armstead had two tackles for loss. Kerry Hyder and D.J. Jones each sacked Kyler Murray once, and Alex Barrett gave him a lick he will remember for quite some time.

LINEBACKERS: A.

Fred Warner had one of the best games of his career. He had 14 tackles and three pass breakups, including one on fourth down, plus one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He's just phenomenal. He could be a Hall of Famer if he continues on his current trajectory.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A.

Safeties Tarvarius Moore and Marcell Harris combined to make 19 tackles. Nickelback K'Waun Williams recorded two tackles for loss and one forced fumble -- he's such an impact player. Cornerback Jason Verrett broke up a pass in the end zone intended for DeAndre Hopkins -- the 49ers need to resign Verrett if they can. And Ahkello Witherspoon gave up a deep catch on the first drive of the game, but then rallied. He made clutch tackle after clutch tackle, and then helped seal the victory with an interception in the end zone. I bet he follows Robert Saleh to whichever team hires Saleh as its head coach.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F-MINUS.

Robbie Gould missed two field goals and an extra point. All three were gimmes. He made the game a game at the end when it shouldn't have been one. It should have been a blowout and the 49ers should have scored 27 points. They might need a new kicker next year.

COACHES: A.

Robert Saleh almost certainly got himself a head-coaching job with arguably his best coaching performance ever. He finally figured out the solution to containing Kyler Murray. Saleh sent blitzes from the defense's left side, which prevented Murray from escaping to his strong side, his right side. And Murray kept spinning into pressure. Genius. Kyle Shanahan's game plan was equally brilliant. He built a run game that destroyed the Arizona defense, and complemented the run game with low-risk, play-action passes to running backs and tight ends. Perfect. Shanahan temporarily lost his mind at the end of the first half when he tried to lead a 2-minute drill in 30 seconds with his third-string quarterback and horrendous right tackle even though the 49ers had the lead. And the 49ers fumbled. But Arizona didn't score, and Shanahan found his mind at halftime and didn't make any more egregious errors. This win was one of his most impressive.

QUALITY CONTROL: A-PLUS-PLUS.

I'm the reason the 49ers finally stopped turning the ball over. I'm the reason Jeff Wilson Jr. got so many touches. And I'm the reason Kyle Juszczyk had the opportunity to score two touchdowns. When Shanahan, Saleh and I work together, the 49ers can't lose.