ATL-SF Grades: Gabbert solid in defensive battle
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the 49ers’ 17-16 victory over the Falcons:
– The Falcons had trouble creating anything on the ground with C Mike Person (-2.4) and RG Chris Chester (-3.2) getting bullied by San Francisco’s interior d-line. It made positive gains hard to come by for running back Devonta Freeman (+1.6), who gained more yards after contact (20) than total yards (12). His work as a receiver was a good supplement, though, as he caught eight of nine targets for 67 yards while making LB NaVarro Bowman whiff on several plays. Just another solid day for Freeman, who maintained his spot as the third-highest graded RB this season.
– It was surprising Matt Ryan didn’t look deep more often against a thin secondary. Just three of his 43 attempts traveled more than 20 yards downfield and 35 were aimed either behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He did target Julio Jones 16 times, gaining 137 yards out of it, but otherwise favored the checkdown while facing moderate pressure (43% of dropbacks).
– Despite the loss, the Falcons defense had a strong performance, especially DT Paul Soliai, who helped keep the 49ers under four yards per carry on the ground. Soliai compiled a season-high overall grade with two pressures and three defensive stops in 32 snaps while making life difficult for center Marcus Martin (-4.0) at the point of attack. That was evident at 14:02 of the fourth quarter, when he beat Martin to take down the rusher for no gain.
DT Paul Soliai (+4.1)
LB Kroy Biermann (+3.2)
RT Ryan Schraeder (+2.5)
CB Desmond Trufant (+2.0)
RB Devonta Freeman (+1.6)
San Francisco 49ers
– Unsurprisingly, Blaine Gabbert fared much better from a clean pocket (+2.5) than when he was pressured (-2.0). His second interception (4Q, 7:20) was an example of the latter, as the Falcons brought extra rushers on the play and Gabbert reacted by back-footing an extremely poor line drive right to Vic Beasley. Otherwise, he played a solid game with a couple of big-time throws, though ended up grading slightly better as a rusher after picking up several first downs on scrambles throughout the game.
– This was the third-straight game above +1.0 for the 49ers’ first-round draft pick, DE Arik Armstead, who managed five combined pressures in 22 snaps. Armstead did most of his work in the first half against Atlanta’s interior line with his play at 1:09 of the second quarter standing out. He also drew a holding penalty in the third quarter which nullified a significant first down conversion for the Falcons.
– CB Marcus Cromartie (+1.8) had just 25 career regular season snaps coming into the game, and none this season, but held up well at the LCB spot on Sunday. He was targeted four times in primary coverage against Julio Jones, which resulted in just three catches and 33 yards. Cromartie’s best play of the game came at 0:12 of the third quarter when he got his hand on the ball to deny Roddy White a third-down reception.
DE Arik Armstead (+2.0)
QB Blaine Gabbert (+2.0)
CB Marcus Cromartie (+1.8)
LB Michael Wilhoite (+1.7)
LG Alex Boone (+1.7)