The San Francisco 49ers got their much-needed victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday with credit to a number of playmakers on both sides of the ball. While eyes were on rookie quarterback Trey Lance making his first home start, San Francisco's defense was yet again one of the highlights of the day. The unit held an ascending Houston offense to seven points, which came off a turnover, and limited them to just 3.6 yards per play despite being without several starters.
Jeff Deeney of Pro Football Focus highlighted several members of the 49ers who eared top grades according to the analytics site. Here's who stood out:
Arden Key - 93.3 Overall Grade
Key continues to prove his value to San Francisco's defensive line, earning the highest grade of any edge defender so far in Week 17. Key racked up seven quarterback pressures (one sack, three hits, three hurries) in just 17 pass rushes. Key currently ranks 12th among edge defenders this season with a pass rush productivity rating of 8.7. Since Week 9, he has registered 6.0 sacks, 27 pressures and 10 quarterback hits.
Arik Armstead - 89.6 Overall Grade
Armstead finished his day against Houston with three quarterback pressures (one sack, two hurries) and four total stops. He currently ranks tied for ninth in the league among all interior defenders with 45 quarterback pressures on the year. San Francisco had Texans quarterback Davis Mills under pressure on 15 of his 36 dropbacks (41.7 percent).
Brandon Aiyuk - 85.8 Overall Grade
San Francisco's second-year wideout earned his highest grade of the season against the Texans. Aiyuk made several clutch catches, including a hauled in tipped pass on the sideline on 2nd-and-15 and a 43-yard catch and run. He finished the day catching four passes for 94 yards. He also drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty that helped set up a 49ers touchdown. Aiyuk also forced three missed tackles on Sunday, tied for the most of all wide receivers in Week 17 (Tee Higgins and Cooper Kupp).
George Kittle - 81.0 Overall Grade
Kittle finished his day hauling in one of his two targets for 29 yards and added a 6-yard carry on the day. His 92.0 receiving grade on the season leads all NFL tight ends through Week 17. Kittle is exactly 100 yards shy of notching his third-career 1,000-yard season. He'll have an opportunity to try to accomplish the feat in the season finale against the Rams as Kittle has averaged 98.3 yards against Los Angeles over his last seven matchups.
Laken Tomlinson - 79.7 Overall Grade
Tomlinson was key in protecting Lance in his second-career start and did not allow a single quarterback pressure on the day. The left guard earned an 86.7 pass blocking grade against the Texans.
Trent Williams - 78.3 Overall Grade
Like Tomlinson, San Francisco's left side of the offensive line kept Lance relatively clean on the day. Williams also did not allow a quarterback pressure and finished the day with an 89.4 pass blocking grade. The 49ers offensive line as a unit only allowed three quarterback pressures on the day on 26 dropbacks.
Tom Compton - 77.0 Overall Grade
San Francisco's right guard had a hand in Elijah Mitchell's record-breaking day by earning an 87.4 run blocking grade. The 49ers averaged 5.6 yards per on designed runs to the right of center carry (18 rushes for 101 yards).
San Francisco's rookie cornerback continues to improve with every start. He earned a 75.9 coverage grade against the Texans after being targeted twice and allowing one catch for zero yards. He also notched a pass breakup and a near-pick six on another target on Sunday.
The 49ers secondary was targeted just 14 times and allowed only 82 yards against Mills and Houston's passing attack, per PFF.