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Grades for the 49ers' 33-19 loss to the Ravens

There are close losses, and there are beat downs. Make no mistake about it, the 49ers got beat down on Christmas night.

Brock Purdy: F

Sprinkle in all the context and excuses you want, but the bottom line is Brock Purdy threw four interceptions last night. He has to wear that.

Purdy has been a revelation since getting the job last season, but he's still inexperienced by NFL standards and that showed up big time last night. Ravens' defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald completely flummoxed Purdy, causing him to be late with his reads and rush his throws. Add in the fact that the offensive line got worked in pass protection and what you get is the shit show we saw in Levi's.

Purdy himself said after the game that he started to force the ball after some early mistakes to try and make something happen. That's never a good idea. Hopefully, he and the 49ers will learn and grow from this experience.

One thought to make you feel better: Four interception games happen to everyone.

Christian McCaffrey: A

Even in a blowout loss, McCaffrey was excellent. Despite just 5 carries in the second half thanks to the game getting completely out of control, CMC still ran for 103 yards and a TD in the game. Monday was the eighth straight game Christian put up 100+ yards from scrimmage - a 49ers record.

The touchdown he scored was his 21st on the season. It's obvious, but McCaffrey is an all-time great player having an all-time great season.

Receivers: B-

If you simply look at the box score you might not understand this grade, but you will if you watched the game.

George Kittle did almost all of the work for the receivers in the competitive portion of the contest. In the first half of the game, Kittle had 91 yards on three catches. Everyone else on the 49ers combined for six catches and 53 yards.

I don't care what Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel did when the Ravens were up by three scores, it's irrelevant. Aiyuk in particular has come up small at times this year when the Niners really could have used him.

There were multiple instances of Brock Purdy's passes not being on target last night - that's fair. But it's also fair to ask the receivers to pick him up a little when that happens. Isn't that the narrative about Purdy? That he benefits from all the greatness around him? Where was that last night?

Defensive Front: C

The 49ers did an okay job containing Lamar Jackson on the ground. Other than one big run before halftime, Jackson gained 15 yards on six carries. The 30 yarder before the half converted a 3rd and 16, but it also chewed up almost all of the remaining time on the clock and prevented the Ravens from getting another chance to score a touchdown. It wasn't as damaging as you might think at first. They also pressured Jackson into a safety early in the game and deserve credit for that.

The real issue came when Lamar extended plays as a passer. Multiple times in the game, he was able to avoid the pass rush, get outside the pocket, and find open receivers down the field for big gains.

Nick Bosa told the media that Jackson hung in the pocket less than he has all season, which apparently caught the 49ers off guard. My question would be why the 49ers couldn't adjust to that once they noticed what was happening. A question for Steve Wilks, me thinks...

Secondary: B-

Playing pass defense against Lamar Jackson is really hard. Most of Lamar's completions and yards came on plays where he bought extra time with his legs. That doesn't completely absolve the secondary for everything that happened, but it's also not realistic to expect them to be able to cover guys for that long.

That said, the Niners continue to allow the opposing team's best weapon to hurt them the most. We saw it with Trey McBride and the Cardinals a week ago and we saw it with Zay Flowers last night. You would think the 49ers would allow literally anyone other than Baltimore's leading receiver to catch the football, and yet Flowers grabbed nine passes for 72 yards and a score. Another question for Mr. Wilks this week.

Kyle Shanahan: B

Many people, including Levin Black in our Instant Reaction podcast, were getting on Kyle for not running the ball enough in the first half. I disagreed with him because the 49ers were still moving the ball down the field effectively. Before halftime, the 49ers had 231 total yards and averaged 8.6 yards per play. It was choppy, yes, but San Francisco moved the ball. The real issue is that the quarterback kept giving the ball to the other team, plain and simple.

One thing I don't understand is this franchise's fascination with Jason Verrett. Shanahan not only activated him but also subbed him into the game for a banged up Ambry Thomas. Verrett quickly allowed a touchdown pass in the end zone. Even after the game, Shanahan said they wanted to get Verrett snaps based on how he's looked at practice. What kind of message does that send to Ambry Thomas, who has been playing the best football of his career? It felt a little too cute for my taste, and it cost the Niners a touchdown in this game.

The real test for Shanahan comes this week. He's got to walk the line between keeping composure and emphasizing the importance of the last two games of the regular season. Yes, everything the 49ers want is still within their grasp and in their control. At the same time, the team has to know they can't just roll out of bed and beat Washington on a short week with an early start time.

Handle you business, boys.


If you're so inclined, here's last night's Instant Reaction podcast!

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Dec 26, 2023

Thank you for bringing up Jason Verrett. I've rooted for him so many times in the past but I really think it's time for him to hang up his cleats. How many teams cut him from their practice squads over the last 12 months? And the Niners bring him into an important late season game? This is nonsensical!

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