There was a lot of talk about the work of Zaven Collins after the Rams game, when he had just four defensive snaps. But the promise all along was that Collins' role could change week-to-week, and with the 49ers leaning on the running game, Collins' role most certainly changed Sunday -- and he made it pay off.
Collins ended up playing 34 defensive snaps -- 52 percent of them -- and ended up with the defense's third-highest grade from Pro Football Focus, at 75.2.
Among the other notable defensive snap counts, the two pressed-into-starting cornerbacks gave their all, with Robert Alford on the field for all but one of the 65 defensive plays, and Antonio Hamilton out there for all but two. J.J. Watt, who had what I thought was his best game of the season, played 54 snaps (83 percent). Isaiah Simmons, who had to come off briefly after his brutal collision with Niners QB Trey Lance, only missed three plays.
Offensively, right tackle Kelvin Beachum played all 61 snaps in his return to the lineup. The running back breakdown was 37 snaps for Chase Edmonds and 29 for James Conner, while wide receiver Rondale Moore was a big part of the game plan and it looked that way with his 29 snaps.
As for the PFF grades, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was the team's top scorer at 87.9, after his 6-catch-87-yard-1-TD game included his three big catches in the game's final few minutes. Moore was at 84.0. Backup center Max Garcia scored a 74.6, leaving a good taste if he indeed has to sub for the injured Rodney Hudson for the immediate future. The left side of the offensive line, tackle D.J. Humphries and Justin Pugh, were at 72.3 each. And tight end Maxx Williams, before he got hurt, was a solid 67.3 (and for the record, PFF has Williams at a good 78.7 for the season with good grades in the pass game, pass blocking and run blocking. His is a big loss.)
On defense, Watt again had the best defensive grade for the Cardinals, at 81.7. He is playing excellent football. Fellow defensive lineman Leki Fotu, with a couple of batted passes, had a 78.4 grade in his best game. After Collins, Alford (71.2) and safety Budda Baker (67.9) also had solid games.