Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

49ers First Half Grades: Offense

Rohan Chakravarthi
Nov 7, 2022 at 5:00 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers are set to return from their bye week to face the Los Angeles Chargers at Levi's Stadium in Week 10, marking the beginning of a favorable second-half travel schedule as they have four home games in five weeks.

Standing at 4-4 at the bye week, the 49ers have certainly gone through their ups and downs this season, so let's evaluate the first half in the form I know best: grades.

Here are the first-half grades for the 49ers on offense.

Quarterback: B-

The 49ers experienced an unfortunate quarterback change in Week 2 as starter Trey Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury, leaving backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to serve as San Francisco's signal-caller for the remainder of the 2022 NFL season.

With Lance, the 49ers saw some inconsistencies, as the passing game struggled in Week 1, albeit under poor weather conditions in a monsoon at Solider Field.

But, in Week 2, Lance facilitated a strong rushing attack, as the 49ers gained 108 yards on 12 carries while the second-year quarterback was playing.

After coming in as the starter, Garoppolo had arguably his worst performance as a 49er in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos, repeatedly failing to capitalize on opportunities and being the primary reason why San Francisco lost in disappointing fashion.

However, Garoppolo has since bounced back, slowly improving each week, and is currently facilitating an efficient offense while limiting turnovers.

While Garoppolo hasn't been asked to do much, he has delivered most times when his number is called, giving him a B+ grade.

Running Backs: C+

The running game has had two different storylines this season.

With Trey Lance at the helm, the running game flourished, averaging over 5.8 yards per carry, but that efficiency deteriorated with the injuries to him and Elijah Mitchell, giving San Francisco a one-dimensional rushing attack with Jeff Wilson Jr. as the lead back.

Overall, while Wilson's numbers looked good, the 49ers were one of the least efficient rushing attacks in 2022 in terms of EPA/play and DVOA, which resulted in a stalled offense that failed to consistently produce between Weeks 3-6.

However, the trade for former Panthers superstar Christian McCaffrey, who had a major impact in Week 8 against the Rams, boosts the rushing grade to slightly above average.

This grade should continue to increase in the second half of the 2022 season.

Wide Receivers: B-

Brandon Aiyuk has officially broken out for the 49ers, as he's their leading receiver through eight games, catching 38 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns thus far.

Aiyuk has been an underrated piece for the 49ers and (arguably) deserves to be their offensive MVP for the first half, as the third-year receiver has been the team's best route-runner and has the lowest drop percentage on the team.

Deebo Samuel's offensive impact has been mitigated by his inefficiency in the run game, but he's still second on the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns.

Samuel has had some issues with catching the football, averaging nearly a drop per game and a 13% drop rate, which has been an issue throughout his career.

Additionally, slot receiver Jauan Jennings has an abysmal 19% drop rate in the first half, which has decreased the team's confidence in him apart from third-down situations, although his blocking has been excellent.

Wideout Ray-Ray McCloud has carved out a role as San Francisco's No. 4 receiver but has missed on several big plays this year due to some inconsistent route-running on deeper routes.

However, the significant impact of Aiyuk thus far brings this group from an average grade to a B- in the first half.

Tight Ends: C+

George Kittle currently stands as the 49ers' third-leading receiver with 319 yards on the season, despite missing two games, along with two touchdown receptions.

Kittle's impact as a blocker has continued this season, and sometimes to an even greater extent, as he's shown the capability both in the running game and as a pass-blocker.

Charlie Woerner has disappointed as the backup tight end this season, dropping both of his targets thus far on would-be big play opportunities. While he's still been a good blocker, Woerner hasn't taken the next step as a receiver in 2022.

Ross Dwelley, on the other hand, has made the most of his opportunities, catching three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown without a drop.

In the second half, expect Dwelley to earn more playing time in passing situations.

Offensive Line: B+

As surprising as it may sound, the offensive line has arguably been the best position group for the 49ers offense thus far.

Aaron Banks has emerged as a premier talent at left guard, showcasing why the 49ers didn't re-sign Laken Tomlinson in the offseason. Banks has taken the next step as a run-blocker, while remaining a strong pass-protector.

While the offensive line has made mistakes at inopportune times, they've been fairly consistent and certainly have exceeded the expectations of most this season.

Coming into the year, the biggest question regarding this unit was cohesion. In that aspect, the 49ers' offensive line has fared well, even with the recent rotation of Daniel Brunskill and Spencer Burford at right guard, which has led to good play from the quarterback as the season has progressed.

The main issue thus far has been penalties. Those will need to improve if the 49ers are to capitalize on offensive opportunities in the second half and improve their average scoring offensive numbers.
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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