Here’s our report card from the 49ers’ third win of the season Sunday, 20-14 over the Denver Broncos.
Passing offense: B
Quarterback Nick Mullens passed for 271 yards in the first half, with 210 going to tight end George Kittle, including an 85-yard touchdown catch and run. It was Kittle’s third reception of at least 70 yards this season. His 200-yard performance was the eighth in team history, and he did it with seven catches. But the passing game slowed in the second half. Receiver Trent Taylor dropped a ball that went right to Darian Stewart for an interception, and Dante Pettis dropped an easy third-down pass. Pettis also made two big plays, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown in the first half and converting a key third down late in the fourth quarter with a 31-yard catch and run. Taylor made up for his gaffe with a short third-down conversion before the two-minute warning to seal the win. Mullens’ final line: 20 for 33, 332 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, 102.1 rating.
Rushing offense: B-
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Sunday was a rare case in which the 49ers relied on one running back throughout the day. Jeff Wilson Jr. had 90 yards on 23 carries while San Francisco played with the lead the entire game. Wilson has 230 yards from scrimmage over his last two games. Wilson had just 37 yards on 11 carries after halftime while Denver packed the box.
Passing defense: A-
The 49ers limited Broncos quarterback Case Keenum to 43 yards in the first half while they took a 20-0 lead. Keenum didn’t fair much better in the second half, totaling 186 yards while averaging a miserable 3.5 yards per attempt. Denver was 2 for 15 on third down.
Rushing defense: B+
The Broncos averaged 2.8 yards per carry through three quarters and finished with 103 yards. Impressive Phillip Lindsay scored his sixth touchdown in four games but was held to 30 yards on 14 carries. Fellow rookie Royce Freeman paced Denver with 36 yards on six carries, including a long of 23 yards.
Special teams: B-
Richie James Jr. fumbled during a punt return for the second straight week. Bradley Pinion averaged 32 yards per punt, and Robbie Gould made both field-goal attempts, making him 25 of 26 this season.
The 49ers’ record during Kyle Shanahan’s tenure is 9-20, but he’s proven he can coach quarterbacks. What he’s done with Mullens shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’s fair to wonder if Mullens has done enough this season for Shanahan to consider his replacing C.J. Beathard as Jimmy Garoppolo’s primary backup in 2019.