On a day when Reuben Foster’s release following another domestic violence arrest dominated the headlines, the 49ers also played a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here are our grades from the 27-9 defeat with San Francisco falling to 2-9, tied for the worst record in the NFL.
Passing offense: F
Quarterback Nick Mullens came back to earth in his first start away from Levi’s Stadium, and his hold on the starting gig over C.J. Beathard should loosen heading into next weekend’s game in Seattle. Mullens in the first half had just 45 yards on four completions against Tampa Bay’s 28th-ranked pass defense. He finished with 221 yards (with 121 through three quarters) and two late interceptions, the second and third for the Buccaneers this season. Dante Pettis’ second career touchdown catch was a bright spot in an otherwise sleepy performance coming off the bye week. Pettis had 77 yards on four receptions while San Francisco was missing starting wideouts Pierre Garçon (knee) and Marquise Goodwin (personal reasons).
Rushing offense: C-
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Matt Breida rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games for the first time in his career. But the 49ers in the third quarter failed to punch in a touchdown from inside a yard away on three straight plays with a chance to tie the score. They settled for a short field goal following a George Kittle false start, killing momentum. The Bucs responded with a scoring drive to make it 20-9. Breida’s stats, while impressive, felt empty in the nine-point performance.
Passing defense: D
The 49ers weren’t able to slow Jemeis Winston much, allowing 312 passing yards and two touchdowns on 76 percent completions. The 49ers failed to make an interception despite Winston coming in with 11 in five games this season. Mike Evans caught six of eight targets for 116 yards. He was a tough cover, even for Richard Sherman, who surrendered a 42-yard catch to Evans that led to Tampa Bay’s first touchdown. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon had his best performance in three weeks, as Winston missed open receivers with Witherspoon in coverage.
Rushing defense: C+
The 49ers allowed just 47 yards on 18 carries (2.6 average) to running back Peyton Barber. He was less of a threat than Winston, who gained most of his 26 yards on scrambles. Winston, despite lacking speed and quickness, was often too slippery for San Francisco’s defenders.
Special teams: D
Robbie Gould’s missed extra point in the second quarter was costly until the game got out of hand late. Richie James managed just 14.7 yards per kickoff return while the 49ers needed to flip the field to put the struggling offense in better position. Bradley Pinion punted five times, averaging 42.8 yards.
Kyle Shanahan was put in a tough spot. The 49ers played hours after cutting one of their most talented players in Foster, and the passing game was neutralized with the loss of Goodwin and Garçon outside and his third-string quarterback under center. But the Buccaneers (4-7) are hardly world beaters. And the 49ers played like a team primed for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.