Seahawks review: Three likes and dislikes about the 13-6 loss to San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO -- Here are my highs and lows from a hard-hitting game in which the Seahawks wound up feeling the most pain:
1. The Seahawks allowed 175 rushing yards, the most they've surrendered since giving up 178 to San Francisco last Christmas Eve. Seattle entered the game with the NFL's No. 2 run defense, surrendering just 70 yards a game. The Seahawks hadn't allowed more than 87 rushing yards in a game this season. But the 49ers gashed them, same as they did in Week 16 a year ago. The 49ers' No. 1 rushing offense knows how to solve the Seahawks' run D right now. Give Jim Harbaugh and his offense credit: San Francisco designs some really nice run plays, and the Seahawks couldn't stop their trap plays. Frank Gore needed only 16 carries to gain 131 yards, inspiring 49ers tight end Delanie Walker to joke that Gore should be nicknamed Gorilla Mode to counter Marshawn Lynch's Beast Mode. That was one a little forced, don't you think? Quite corny, too. But Gore was the man Thursday night.
2. Five dropped passes contributed to an inept performance from the Seahawks' passing game . The drops ruined some prime scoring opportunities early in the game, hindered the Seahawks' ability to move the ball later in the game and led to the offense discombobulating by game's end. Golden Tate dropped two passes. Evan Moore dropped a long one. Robert Turbin dropped a possible touchdown pass. And Lynch dropped one, too. Wilson was good in the first half, but he wound up only 6 of 13 for 103 yards because of the drops. In the second half, Wilson struggled, and his receivers didn't help him. Entering the final drive of the game, Wilson was 1 of 7 for minus-2 yards in the second half. For the game, he was 9 of 23 for 122 yards and an interception. The Seahawks also regressed to their poor third-down conversion form. They were only 4 of 13 on third down against the Niners, who are ranked No. 1 in the NFL in total defense.
3. The Seahawks' average starting field position was their own 15-yard line. According to ESPN, that's the worst field position for any team this season. San Francisco was fantastic on special teams, including punter Andy Lee, who netted 44.6 yards per punt. The 49ers, whose average starting field position was their own 34-yard line, held a ridiculous 71-9 advantage in total return yardage (not including kickoffs).
1. Lynch rushed for 103 yards, and the Seahawks' run game produced 136 yards after two subpar games. The Seahawks had been held under 100 rushing yards for two straight games, but Lynch led a much better effort in this one. It was his second straight triple-digit rushing performance against San Francisco. The run blocking was better this week, but as usual, Lynch did a lot of the work himself, running with his relentless style.
2. The Seahawks held the 49ers' receivers and tight ends to seven receptions, none of which were by Vernon Davis. The defense did its job in pass coverage. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith was awful in the first half and a non-factor overall. Davis didn't have a reception. The 49ers played without the injured Mario Manningham. The rest of the receivers didn't do anything. The 49ers amassed only 140 passing yards. Of course, the Seahawks just had 122.
3. The Seahawks committed only three penalties, and they have just seven over their past two games. It appears Seattle is becoming a more disciplined team. Those three penalties in this game seemed bigger than what they were, but that's because the offense is so bad. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll can live with three penalties.
You knew it would be a tall order for the Seahawks to win this game on the road four days after that dramatic victory over New England. Still, I thought the Seahawks would defend the run better and at least have a mediocre showing in the passing game. Instead, the 49ers mauled them and then sat back and observed as the Seahawks dropped opportunity after opportunity because of their inept offense.
The 49ers (5-2) remain the undisputed best team in the NFC West, and for my money, they're the most Super Bowl-ready team in the NFL right now. The Seahawks (4-3) have to be a lot more consistent, and for all the wild games they've played this season, they're now 0-3 against the NFC West, all road losses. They're losing the rugged games that they're supposedly built to win. If you can match the Seahawks' physical style, which is quite a challenge, then you can expose what they lack in offensive skill.
Carroll was disappointed that his defense allowed 175 yards, and it's true that is uncharacteristic of the Seahawks. But the Seahawks still only allowed 13 points and just one touchdown. Even when the defense isn't sharp, it's giving the Seahawks an opportunity to win. The offense must reach a higher level of performance and then add consistentcy.
Maybe playing the 49ers, the top defense in the NFL, exaggerated the offense's problems. But in Week 7 of the season, after showing improvement in back-to-back games, it was fair to expect more from the Seahawks on offense.
It's hard to resist the feeling that they failed a significant test Thursday night.