San Francisco 49ers’ Michael Crabtree (15) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San
San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree (15) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff) ( Nhat V. Meyer )

GRADing the 49ers

Pass offense

Michael Crabtree accounted for 172 of Colin Kaepernick's 276 passing yards, career highs for both players. They also combined for two touchdowns. Kaepernick completed six passes of at least 20 yards, a major reason he's entrenched as the starter. Delanie Walker had two of those long receptions. Kudos to the offensive line, which started the same quintet all season for the first time since 1991.

Grade: A-

Run offense

Frank Gore broke the franchise record with his 51st career rushing touchdown, tempering the fact he didn't eclipse the 100-yard mark for the ninth straight game (20 carries, 68 yards). LaMichael James' 26-yard run got the 49ers across midfield for the first time after a tough first quarter.

Grade: B

Pass defense

Aldon Smith didn't add to his franchise-record 19½ sacks, but he survived repeated cut blocks. Ricky Jean Francois and Ahmad Brooks had back-to-back sacks to start the 49ers' second-half dominance. Ray McDonald forced a fumble on a fourth-quarter catch, and Tarell Brown nabbed the game's only interception.

Grade: B


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Run defense

The Cardinals had a respectable 15 carries for 53 yards in the first half, and only two carries for 2 yards after halftime. In copying the Seattle Seahawks, they attacked the right side of the 49ers defensive front that again missed Justin Smith (triceps).

Grade: B

Special teams

San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore (21) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park in San
San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore (21) celebrates his touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff) ( Nhat V. Meyer )

David Akers missed his first two field-goal attempts and finished the regular season with a career-worst 69 percent conversion rate on three-point attempts. Solving their kicking issue is a priority before the playoffs. Andy Lee finished with a league-best net average of 43.24 yards per punt. Ted Ginn Jr. appeared to misplay the Cardinals' first punt, leading to lousy first-quarter field position.

Grade: C

Coaching

Despite a slow start against an inferior opponent, the 49ers made the necessary adjustments to win their second NFC West title in two years under Jim Harbaugh. They also secured the NFC's No. 2 seed and thus an accompanying bye week during which assistant coaches can interview for head-coaching jobs elsewhere.

Grade: A-

-- CAM INMAN