Game 15: Team Wins In Dominating Fashion
All three phases compliment each other again.
by Steve Saslow
Another week, another dominating win, another solid performance by all three phases of the team. The offense moved the ball well while the defense forced four turnovers and the special teams gave them great field position with a few nice returns. Here are our position by position grades:
Drew Bledsoe had a great game, commanding the field well and beating the blitzes early that made the 49ers back off. In fact, he played so well he was able to leave the game late in the third quarter, giving way to Shane Matthews. Bledsoe finished 21 of 32 for 172 yards and a touchdown pass without throwing an interception. He got a break when a play was called incomplete but looked like a fumble. He also had two designed runs for 9 yards. He finished with a QB rating of 89.6. Matthews threw a beautiful deep ball to Lee Evans for a 33 yard touchdown pass. He was 2 for 3 for 44 yards and the score. He gave way to J.P. Losman who did not throw a pass. Grade A: Got the game going and never looked back. Bledsoe is managing games beautifully now.
Willis McGahee got the start and split carries with Shaud Williams. McGahee scored a touchdown in the 2nd quarter and went over 1,000 yards in the opening series of the second half when he keyed a field goal drive. He ripped off long runs of 20 and 10 yards on a field goal drive in the third quarter and followed that with his second TD of the game. He finished with 102 yards on just 15 carries for a whopping 6.8 yard average. It is his 7th 100 yard game of the season. He left the game for good after fumbling the ball away. His second of the year. Williams got four carries in the first half but carried the load the last quarter and a half. He had a couple of nice runs including a beautiful 27 yards touchdown run. He finished with 93 yards on 17 carries, a 5½ yard average. Joe Burns had a nice block on Williams touchdown run. Daimon Shelton had a catch for three yards and some nice blocks. Grade A: The running game didn't have top billing early but closed the game out.
Eric Moulds & Lee Evans were very active as each caught six passes in the first half alone and each finished with eight catches on the day in the short passing game. Moulds finished with 81 yards while Evans had 92 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns, that is a rookie club record 5th straight game he has found the end zone. He also gained 21 yards on a reverse but was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Josh Reed had two tough catches. Ryan Neufeld dropped a pass. Rod Trafford had a nice catch but couldn't come up with a third down conversion in the red zone forcing the team to settle for a field goal. Grade A+: Caught everything in sight.
The line kept Bledsoe upright for the most part as he was sacked only once. They made adjustments after the 49ers were getting heavy pressure on Bledsoe the first two series. They opened up nice holes for the running game as they averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. Ross Tucker was called for a penalty when he wasn't set during a no huddle play. Grade A: Helped execute a solid gameplan offensively.
Aaron Schobel recovered a fumble that led to a Bills touchdown in the 2nd quarter. He missed on a sack but Sam Adams was there to get it. Chris Kelsay was quiet with just one assist and never got close to the 49ers QBs. Pat Williams only had a tackle. Grade D: Very quiet day for this unit that allowed big gains up the middle on the ground.
London Fletcher and Takeo Spikes each were in on seven tackles. Spikes pressured Dorsey into an incompletion and almost picked off a pass but he couldn't come up with it. He did have a sack. Jeff Posey missed a tackle and was called for a roughing the passer penalty and was in on four tackles. Josh Stamer got some playing time late and picked off a pass that he deflected. Mario Haggan and Angelo Crowell also got some rare time on defense during garbage time. Grade B+: Solid outing for the team's best position.
Kevin Thomas got a sack and forced the fumble that Aaron Schobel recovered. Terrence McGee was in on seven tackles and gave up a 4th and 17 conversion. Troy Vincent was very quiet with just one tackle. Nate Clements deflected and picked off a pass in the third quarter. Lawyer Milloy had an interception but did little else. Grade A-: Allowed just 109 yards passing.
The return teams did an excellent job giving the offense a short field that led to 13 points. Jonathan Smith got a chance to return a kickoff and returned it 28 yards that setup a field goal to open the third quarter. Terrence McGee had a 36 yard kickoff return. Nate Clements had a 21 yard punt return that setup a field goal and a 28 yard return that setup a touchdown. He averaged 15.3 yards on four punt returns. Brian Moorman threw a very good pass on the run on a fake punt but Pierson Prioleau dropped it. It wouldn't have counted anyway because of an illegal man downfield penalty. Moorman punted once for 36 yards and it went out of bounds at the 8. Rian Lindell was 2 for 2 on field goals and hit all five extra points. Grade A: Did a great job in giving the Bills an average drive start of their own 47 yard line.
Mike Mularkey never stopped with the trick plays despite having a big lead once again. He did reverses and faked a field goal. He kept the team focused which was no easy task playing the worst team in the league and having to travel across the country on Christmas Day. Smart move getting the starters out early to rest them for the big game next week. Grade A: Mularkey deserves coach of the year consideration.
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