SF-BUF grades: Kaepernick struggles in season debut

The biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Bills' win over the 49ers.

| 8 months ago
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

SF-BUF grades: Kaepernick struggles in season debut

Buffalo Bills 49, San Francisco 49ers 16

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Buffalo Bills 45-16 win over the San Fransisco 49ers.

Buffalo Bills

Quarterback grade: Tyrod Taylor 82.8

Tyrod Taylor makes Niners pay for lack of pressure

Tyrod Taylor took advantage of the 49ers lack of a pass rush by doing what he does best, getting outside the pocket where he can make plays with his legs or looking downfield for open receivers. He did both today as he ran seven times for 52 yards to go along with his 179 pass yards. When blitzed he completed 83 percent of his throws for 133 yards and two touchdowns, which goes to show that Tyrod is comfortable when he’s moving the pocket. Going into today Taylor had the highest time to throw in the league at 3.22 seconds, most of that being contributed to him moving around giving his receivers time to separate. When he attempted passes 10 yards or farther down the field, there was success to be had as he completed five of seven for 103 yards and a TD. 

Top offensive grades:

FB Jerome Felton 83.2
WR Robert Woods 81.6
T Cordy Glenn 81.5
G Richie Incognito 78.7
T Jordan Mills 78.8

LeSean McCoy, Bills have a big day on the ground

With help from FB Jerome Felton and his offensive line, LeSean McCoy made it two consecutive games with over 140 rushing yards. McCoy forced four missed tackles and 55 of his 140 rush yards came after contact. The Bills utilized him in a variety of formations as he took a number of direct snaps from center, often with FB Jerome Felton as his lead blocker who finished with an 84.9 run block grade. The 49ers had a difficult time containing McCoy and Taylor as they combined for 192 yards on the ground.

Top defensive grades

DI Leger Douzable, 82.8
LB Zach Brown, 80.2
DI Kyle Williams, 77.9
ED Lorenzo Alexander, 77.4
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, 76.2

Buffalo defense continues to roll

It seems like every week a new player has stepped up to lead the Buffalo defense, and in Week 6 it was Leger Douzable’s turn. Douzable was especially effective against the run, earning an 83.9 run defense grade to lead the Bills defensive line. Douzable only had two tackles (both of which went for stops) but he dominated the interior of the 49ers offensive line all game long, squeezing gaps shut and clogging up the point of attack. Zach Brown continued his impressive stretch of play to start this season, leading the defense with four stops, with one of those being a sack. In the secondary Buffalo was led by Robey-Coleman who allowed just three catches on seven targets for a total of 35 yards; Robey-Coleman had one pass breakup and held Kaepernick to a 58.6 QB rating.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback grade: Colin Kaepernick, 40.2

Kaepernick struggles in season debut

It was an ugly season debut for Kaepernick, who in addition to being inaccurate for much of the day also made a few careless plays. Kaepernick’s 59.3 adjusted completion percentage was the worst among all QBs through the 1:00 pm Sunday games and he really struggled to throw the ball when Buffalo was able to apply pressure, completing just four of 11 passes for 43 yards to go with a 48.7 QB rating while under duress. Kaepernick did have success running the football, especially on scrambles where he was able to gain 53 yards on four attempts, but he’s going to need to improve both his decision-making and his accuracy as a passer if he’s going to provide the spark that this offense desperately needs.


Top offensive grades

WR Quinton Patton, 74.2
TE Vance McDonald, 67.3
TE Garrett Celek, 66.0
HB Shaun Draughn, 56.8
Michael Davis, 56.6

Offense lifeless in Buffalo 

One clear indicator that this offense had an awful day on Sunday is two players cracking their top five with overall grades in the 50s. The offensive line was abysmal, allowing 17 total pressures between them in pass protection and the interior part of the line was especially bad at run-blocking, with LG Zane Beadles, C Daniel Kilgore and RG Joshua Garnett earning run-blocking grades of 35.4, 37.1 and 34.5 respectively. Quinton Patton had a reasonably productive day, hauling in four of six targets for 50 yards to go with some nice run blocks on some runs that made it to the outside or downfield.

Top defensive grades:

CB Trumaine Brock 83.9
DE Arik Armstead 79.5
DT Quinton Dial 76.1
DE DeForest Buckner 73.1
CB Keith Reasor 71 

Defense struggles to contain Taylor/McCoy

CB Trumaine Brock was one of the few bright spots for San Francisco’s defense as he only allowed one catch on the day for three yards while also breaking up a pass. The majority of the 49ers issues came stopping the run as they allowed an astounding 287 yards on 41 carries. They missed six tackles on the day which led to 117 yards after contact. The linebackers had a tough time getting off blocks at the second level, which in turn freed up some rushing lanes and also led to Micheal Wilhoites 40.5 run defense grade and Nick Bellores 57.1 grade in that department. 

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.


  • Thinkaboutit

    Buffaloes defense must be racist judging by the way it oppressed kaepernick.

    • Great Gabbert

      Actually it looked like the Bills DBs gave them the Torrey Smith touchdown, to support Kaepernick. They let Smith go completely free and didn’t really try to tackle him after he caught the ball. I’d be very suspicious.

      • Thomas W

        No. Gilmore blew the coverage and he’s been inconsistent this year. And they did try to tackle him, but he started out behind everyone.

  • Ferdinand Lana

    Krappynick should concentrate more on protest. GM, HC, OC, DC need to hit the road.

  • 49ers fan24

    Baalke needs to go, the rest of the issues will work themselves put after that.

    • Raul Fender

      Baalke used to be able to pick good defensive players. Now he can’t get anything right. The fans aren’t showing up to the home games. Even if it is a sellout an owner’s ego likes to see it look full. If he doesn’t go this team has no hope.

      • 49ers fan24

        I’m not so sure Baalke ever picked good.

        One draft 2011 was considered “good” but most of those players were gone 3 years later.

        Other than that absolutely nothing.

        It’s 2016.

        How long are people going to keep saying he had a “good draft” 5 years ago that most xof the players are gone from long ago??

  • Greg Thrasher

    Can a brother get some help here … Kap I feel ya


  • David Japhet-Mathias

    Did they forget to grade McCoy or did he really get less than 79 despite getting 140 yards and three touchdowns on only 19 carries?

    • Matt

      No idea, but what i can tell you are his grades for the year
      Rushing Grade: 80.9
      Receiving Grades: 75.1
      Blocking Grade: 39.2

      If I had to bet money I’d say he might have had a rough outing in pass protection and that would really mess up his grade. I didn’t watch the game so couldn’t tell you but if he gave up some pressures or let up a sack then that’s probably the reason.

  • DrAWNiloc

    Did I just see a 49er QB throw further than 4 yards downfield?

  • DaStrongSKRAWN

    Kaep is still #1 in our hearts <3

  • crosseyedlemon

    Even though I had little good to say about Kapaernick in another article, the reality is that even Joe Montana isn’t going to save the day when the opponent is allowed to rush for over 300 yards.

  • Bills51

    I have no idea how you only recorded 4 missed tackles for McCoy. I just watched some highlights and I counted over 10. He juked out so many people in the open field it was insane. If he jokes out someone so bad they don’t even get a hand on him does that not count as a broken tackle? If not then you need another way to measure that.

    • Thomas W

      What about just hitting the holes quickly? McCoy does that, but I’m not sure how it’s tallied.