The Brewery

A gathering place for sports analysis and opinion with Seattle Times sports columnist Jerry Brewer.

September 11, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Instant replay: A brief sketch of the Seahawks' loss to the 49ers

Posted by Jerry Brewer

San Francisco 49ers 33, Seattle Seahawks 17

Why the 49ers won: They didn't do much. The Seahawks actually outgained them, 219-209. They just played good defense and took advantage of the Seahawks' offensive ineptitude. Alex Smith was efficient, completing 15 of 20 passes, but he threw for just 124 yards. New coach Jim Harbaugh played it conservative. The 49ers scored only one offensive touchdown, but that's all they needed. Their special teams were tremendous: four David Akers field goals and two return touchdowns by Ted Ginn.

Why the Seahawks lost: Every aspect of the offense was terrible early as the Seahawks fell behind 16-0. They averaged only 2.3 yards per pass play in the first half and just 1.1 yards per run play. It was an embarrassing effort, and though the Seahawks played better as the game progressed, the tone already had been set. The Seahawks never climbed out of that early hole.

Key play: After Tarvaris Jackson threw a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin to trim the deficit to 19-17, Ginn returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. It was the critical error of the day for a Seahawks special teams unit that had a poor day covering kicks. Then, after a quick Seattle offensive possession, Ginn returned a punt 55 yards for his second touchdown in a 59-second span.

Player of the game: Ginn, of course. And that's a good thing, too, because there weren't many individual standouts in this game. Both defensive units played incredibly well, but until Ginn's fireworks, there wasn't a singular difference maker.

Player with some shame: The Seahawks' entire offense didn't come ready to play. The O-line was awful early. Jackson wasn't very good when he had time to throw. The receivers didn't get open. The O must take the blame for the early struggles. Then the Seahawks special teams robbed them of a chance to pull off an improbable comeback by allowing Ginn to explode.

What this means in the big picture: It's no great surprise the Seahawks struggled mightily on offense. Their starters showed few signs of life during the preseason. With a young offensive line, a new quarterback and a lack of continuity all around, this offense requires plenty of patience. But if the Seahawks want to survive a difficult early schedule, they need the offense to be, at least, erratic while the players gel. In this game, they were mostly inept. The first half was a disaster. The second half was much better. Something to build on? You should hope so. But they need injured free-agent acquisitions Robert Gallery and Sidney Rice to return ASAP. The Seahawks visit Pittsburgh next week, and the Steelers' vaunted defense gave up 35 points in a loss to Baltimore, so you know Pittsburgh will be angry. Those fears of a bad start to this season are starting to materialize.

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