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49ers vs. Panthers offensive grades: Is Jimmy Garoppolo turning a new leaf?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 12, 2022 at 3:30 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers 37-15, scoring over 30 points for the first time this season, while the defense continued to be a force to reckon with.

Jimmy Garoppolo played his best game of the season, while the 49ers run game created big play opportunities to lead the offense to a high-scoring game.

Here are the offensive grades from Week 5.

Quarterback: B+

Jimmy Garoppolo had a solid performance on Sunday, completing 18/30 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

Garoppolo spread the wealth, targeting eight different receivers, while involving George Kittle with more significant volume this week after the star tight end had been limited in his production over the past two games.

From a box score standpoint, the numbers don't necessarily pop out, but the veteran quarterback operated towards his bread-and-butter, making several nice throws over the middle of the field.

However, Garoppolo's best throws came outside the numbers, as he connected with recently-acquired running back Tevin Coleman on a 30-yard gain in tight 1-on-1 coverage against a cornerback, while having a free rusher in his face.

Additionally, against another all-out blitz, Garoppolo threw an accurate back-shoulder throw to Brandon Aiyuk, who was covered tightly near the sideline, but the third-year receiver couldn't corral the pass in.

Garoppolo's accuracy was much better in this game than in his first two starts of the season, as the quarterback didn't commit many turnover-worthy plays, while not missing high on open receivers, which had flawed the 49ers' offense in recent weeks.

Garoppolo even worked through progressions on a fairly consistent basis, hitting receivers who were potentially the third read on the play, rather than locking onto a target, which attributed to the several targeted players this game.

However, the veteran quarterback still exhibited several of the mistakes he's been prone to doing: bailing on reads too early and locking onto a target.

On the first drive, Garoppolo nearly threw an interception on a good play design from Kyle Shanahan because the safety read his eyes, understanding that he was locked onto Deebo Samuel and jumped the in-breaking route.

But, if Garoppolo can sustain his play from this game, while continuing to threaten defenses downfield and outside of the numbers on a consistent basis, then the 49ers could potentially reach their offensive potential, which, as seen on Sunday, would be a dangerous sight to see.

Running Backs: A

Jeff Wilson Jr. continues to impress with his vision and downhill running ability, which attributed to his 17-carry, 120-yard, and one-touchdown performance against the Panthers.

Wilson was a beneficiary of good run-blocking by the front five, but consistently created opportunities for himself when the blocks weren't fully executed, getting extra yards on broken plays.

Additionally, Wilson's vision, mixed with his cutting ability, make him a seamless fit for this offense that requires quick decision-making, as the combination led to a pair of long runs on Sunday, including a 41-yard carry.

While Wilson looked as if he had taken a step back during portions of training camp, he has impressed after a poor Week 1 performance and should be able to sustain his performance in the running game until Elijah Mitchell returns.

Tevin Coleman, who was recently signed to the active roster, was a pleasant addition, as he opened up the outside zone for the 49ers with his speed and ability to hit the edge.

Coleman's 30-yard catch over a defensive back was an impressive grab and prolonged an offensive drive for the 49ers, where they were able to secure an early 10-0 lead.

The 49ers have faced significant injury at the running back position, but the backups have filled in admirably, leading to a strong rushing attack thus far.

Wide Receivers: B+

Brandon Aiyuk was the leading receiver for the 49ers on Sunday, catching three passes for 58 yards on four targets. Of his 58 receiving yards, 25 came after the catch.

Aiyuk was consistently put in places to make plays, and did exactly that with a majority of his opportunities, including a few broken tackles after a quick slant that resulted in a 24-yard gain.

Additionally, Aiyuk continues to be a ferocious blocker as a receiver, embracing the 49ers' identity of physicality, which has been an added bonus on the edge for the offense.

However, the third-year receiver did have a drop on a tough play, failing to secure a back-shoulder throw from Jimmy Garoppolo that resulted in a punt in Carolina territory.

After a six-catch, 115-yard performance from Deebo Samuel in Week 4, the star receiver and Jimmy Garoppolo failed to get on the same page, connecting just twice for 20 yards and a touchdown on nine targets.

Several plays were due to an error on Garoppolo's end, but Samuel had a near-touchdown in the endzone that would've been completed had he continued running his route, while dropping a nicely-placed ball over the middle off a curl route.

Samuel did have a touchdown catch, where he worked his way over the middle and Garoppolo found him after progressing through his reads for the score.

Jauan Jennings, on the other hand, was extremely efficient with his opportunities, catching both passes thrown his way for 45 yards.

Jennings had one of the best offensive plays of the game, taking a short slant 32 yards after breaking several tackles and working his way inside the five-yard line.

After a solid performance last week, Jennings is slowly re-emerging as a valuable contributor for the 49ers, not only as a blocker, but as a receiver, especially on third down with his ability to muscle for yards after the catch.

Tight Ends: A-

After catching just six passes for 52 yards over the last two weeks, George Kittle was a focal part of the offense in Week 5, hauling in five passes on six targets for 47 yards.

From the initial snap, it was evident that the 49ers wanted to get Kittle involved, as Garoppolo found him for five yards on a play-action bootleg on the first play from scrimmage before connecting with him for a 20-yard gain on a well-placed deep ball to move the chains.

After his third catch of the day on the ensuing drive, Kittle did cough up a fumble, however, which stalled San Francisco's second offensive drive and shifted the momentum at the time, as the Panthers took over at their 44-yard line.

Overall, Kittle had a positive impact on the game, standing out once again as a blocker in the running game, as he and Charlie Woerner both were the creators of several holes that led to big plays from either Jeff Wilson Jr. or Tevin Coleman.

While Kittle might not be as targeted heavily due to the increased amount of weapons in the passing game and the run-oriented offensive approach, his contributions in the running game still make him an extremely valuable asset to the success of San Francisco's offense.

Charlie Woerner continues to be an underrated facet of the offense as he made many key blocks in the run game that allowed Wilson Jr. and Coleman to flourish when given opportunities.

Despite the Kittle fumble, the contributions in the running game, as well as Kittle's role in the aerial attack warrants an A- grade from the tight ends.

Offensive Line: A-

Once again, the 49ers' offense line was impressive, which is hard to fathom for some given the significant turnover the unit faced in the offseason.

The offensive line held up in pass protection, despite the losses of Trent Williams and Colton McKivitz at left tackle, allowing just two sacks, with the first one coming from Brian Burns, who immediately beat Jaylon Moore, while the second came from an offensive line miscommunication.

Jaylon Moore had a fairly solid performance, despite giving up the sack and losing his ground on a few plays, making good contributions in the running game, and serving as a serviceable left tackle for the time being.

Aaron Banks continues to look the part of a second-round guard, as his primary miscue came on a holding penalty in the redzone. Banks's pass protection was very solid in Week 5, while his run-blocking has become a good part of his skillset.

The biggest issue with the offensive line is currently at center, as incumbent starter Jake Brendel had a rough game this weekend, getting beaten in both aspects of the offensive game.

Several rushes that could've gone for bigger gains were stuffed because Brendel missed his assignment, allowing his defender to make the tackle near the line of scrimmage.

However, as a unit, the 49ers offensive line doesn't appear to be the weakness that many believed it would be at the beginning of the season, and currently, the main issue the group could face is cohesion issues stemming from the rotation at right guard.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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