I can’t even begin to talk about special teams. Bad, bad, bad. The coverage units missed Daniel Lasco. If you told me before the game the Saints would give up just 23 points – I would jump for joy. The truth is, though, 4 turnovers and a turnover on downs (not officially counted as a turnover) went a long way towards masking just how bad it was. Watching the 49ers turn simple short tight end crossing routes and flare dump offs to backs for huge chunk gains and explosive scores was unacceptable. There were some moments and some disasters. Below are the grades:
Cam Jordan: B- (2.63) The only player that provides any sort of pass rush. I feel like we almost expect Jordan to do too much because the one guy on the defensive line capable of making plays with any regularity. He had 2 tackles, was stout against the run, gave consistent pressure and was unfairly given just half a sack when he really deserved all of it.
Nick Fairley: C- (2.58) Since the passing of his mom I don’t feel like he’s been playing as well. Understandable given what he’s been through emotionally. He still provides the occasional push rushing the passer, but he left lanes against the run. He had no tackles and one hit on Kaepernick.
Tyeler Davison: C- (2.33) I was hopeful based on his tremendous camp that he’d make a significant impact this year. At time, his run defense has anchored the defense’s ability to limit the opposition. A quiet game for him this week, though, and he seems to have declined with his injury.
Paul Kruger: C- (2.00) He held his blocks pretty well and got upfield on a couple of runs to disrupt lanes, but his pass rushing was pretty ineffective. The Saints desperately need better showings on the edge.
Kasim Edebali: C (1.92) He had a nice tackle on special teams and got a little pass rush going. He’s not playing enough to make an impact but he’s not really giving the Saints a reason to play him more, either.
David Onyemata: D (2.00) Completely ineffective rushing the passer, he got no pocket push at all and he was tossed around on the interior. John Jenkins was a healthy scratch in this game but I as Rankins’ snap count ramps up, I would make Onyemata the odd man out.
Sheldon Rankins: C+ (2.33) He wasn’t too impressive and didn’t really show that scary quick first step off – but the fact that he’s healthy, back and playing is good enough for me at this point. He had one hit on Kaepernick and a tackle.
Darryl Tapp: C (2.29) He showed some hustle but like most of the defensive line subs he made little impact.
Chris McCain: D (1.67) Comes in for one play defensively and jumps offside. The Martez Wilson special.
Craig Robertson: B- (2.71) His coverage was up and down. His run defense was up and down. Sometimes he failed to fill up running lanes and/or stay with pass catchers on misdirection crossing route plays. Still he had 5 tackles and dropped out of a blitz and beautifully timed a route to jump in front of it and come up with a big time interception returned 29 yards. I feel like this defense isn’t good enough to consistently stop being so it’s going to have to rely on big plays like that to help out the offense. Good on Robertson for coming up clutch there.
Nate Stupar: C+ (2.50) Like Robertson it was real up and down and he makes a big play to somewhat make up for a bad performance. I thought he was worse in run support and coverage overall, though. He was constantly running after the ball and too slow to make an impact. He didn’t take ideal angles to the ball, either. Too many missed tackles. He had 7 tackles, though, and no play was bigger for him than the forced fumble at the 1 which prevented the 49ers from scoring a touchdown and making the game really close/scary.
Delvin Breaux: B (2.84) He’s back! The 49ers only threw his way one time and his coverage looked great. He had 2 tackles, and one was around the line of scrimmage on a 4th and 1 play where he got the defense off the field with a turnover on downs. So great to see him back.
B. W. Webb: C+ (2.61) Came very close to an interception jumping on a tipped ball. Otherwise, I thought he gave too much cushion. He did a great job staying with Torrey Smith on the deep routes but too much was allowed in front of him. He had 3 tackles.
Sterling Moore: C+ (2.40) He had two defended pass as the slot corner. Nice to see him back on the field, I thought he did an ok job overall.
Ken Crawley: C- (2.08) Came in for Breaux, who was on a snap count, and gave up way too much. Too much cushion. He had 2 tackles.
Jairus Byrd: B- (2.21) The 4th down stop by Breaux doesn’t happen unless Byrd makes a terrific tackle short of the sticks on a play that should have been an easy first down. His tackling overall was very good with the exception of on play where he’s turned around and whiffs. That’s happened too many times this season. He also looked very slow in pursuit of a long touchdown pass to DuJuan Harris. He finished with 8 tackles and was active and physical overall.
Vonn Bell: B (2.48) He had 6 tackles, a half sack, and a fumble recovery. In coverage he’s not jumping routes and making a big impact yet. The misdirection of the Chip Kelly offense seemed to confuse him at times. He competed very well and made some plays. The big negative was a blitz where he didn’t get there nearly fast enough and it led to the Harris touchdown.
Kenny Vaccaro: A- (2.90) He was one of the few guys that covered well. I’d still like to see him time his blitzes a bit better, but otherwise he’s a savage. He iced the game with a crucial fumble recovery in the red zone, then followed it up with a forced fumble on a rip out at the end of a play to create another turnover on the next drive. He led the team with 9 tackles. This defense would be so bad without him.
Wil Lutz: C (2.71) He had one extra point that was a very low line drive. That’s been a problem for him at times this year. He also missed a 55 yarder wide right. His kickoffs were short and let to huge returns due to poor coverage. He made his other two field goal attempts, including one from 41, so he was 2 for 3 there. He was 5 for 5 on extra points.
Thomas Morstead: A- (3.29) 4 punts for an average gross of 52.5 yards, 2 inside the 20, and a net of 46.8. Awesome as usual. He set up opportunities for returns a bit more than usual, but it seems the Saints felt good about their ability to contain Jeremy Kerley on punt returns.
Jake Lampman: B- (2.89) He’s a pretty good gunner and had a huge hit/tackle on a punt return. Can you imagine how bad this coverage would be without him?
Roman Harper: C+ (1.88) He had a tackle that saved a touchdown on a kickoff return. The Saints gave up an average of 34.7 on three kickoff returns and the long was 36 so it’s not like they were inflated by one huge return. It was consistently bad. Harper looks slow out there but at least he prevented a score on special teams.
Michael Mauti: C+ (2.19) Also made an important tackle, but can’t be praised too much given the horrific performance deficiencies by the unit.
Brian Dixon: D- (1.93) Blasted Kerley after he called a fair catch. Not smart. He also whiffed as the first man down a couple times. Not a good day for the Saints’ top gunner.
My defensive player of the game: Kenny Vaccaro
My special teams player of the game: Thomas Morstead