Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
If I expected a different outcome this would be a bitter pill to swallow. Losing to the 49ers was the last thing I wanted to acknowledge Monday morning but I knew it was well within the realm of possibilities. In my mind there were too many intangibles working against the Seahawks…and that didn’t include any of their nine penalties.
When you watch the Seahawks as much and as often as I do, you get a sense for the nature of this team. You get to know them much like you know your own child. You get to the point where you understand their highs and lows, the tantrums, the mood changes, the anxiety, the complacency and the urgency. I can’t put my finger on what I saw to make me think this, but it’s almost as if this win wasn’t vital to this team. Something like ‘hey if we don’t win today we always have next week’. On the opposite side of the field San Francisco appeared to have a bit more fervor. Something like ‘hey let’s throw caution to the wind because we may not play after week 17 if we don’t’.
Allow me to confess a bit, I am a frustrated Seahawks fan. Yes, I said it…frustrated. Not because of what they are, but because I know they are a great team with nothing but mountains of deep talent. But it seems that we get into ruts for games at a time. Yesterday my frustration grew from what we did last week compared to this week. Last week we took New Orleans to task and used the read option play multiple times allowing Russell Wilson to sprint past the edge and gain significant yardage. It may not work every single time but it will always keep the defense honest. I can’t recall any read options in this game, it was straight up runs and passes. There is nothing wrong with that if that is all you bring to the table. That is not the case for this team. I was aching to see Wilson drop back, bring the ball up to Lynch’s chest, spy the DE and ‘read’ the best option. Nothing.
Any good ‘homer’ knows that when things don’t go your way you can always turn to the referee’s to place some of the blame. So…being a good ‘homer’…how about those penalties? We were called for 9 penalties totaling 85 yards, many at importune times that negated a large play and subsequently placed us in long yardage situations. Can we just let them play the game? It is football after all, not powder puff or lingerie football.
Even though the Seahawks didn’t discover gold at Sutter’s mill they did discover something at Candlestick park, Luke Willson. He came up huge for us and became yet another target for Mr. Wilson, of the one ‘L’ fame, to have confidence in. He led all Seahawk receivers on Sunday, yet another receiver with the capability of leading in receiving yards. If we do get Harvin back this season is there any doubt that teams won’t know who to cover to stop this offense? Impressive.
San Francisco was smart, give them credit, they went after Maxwell and Lane much of the afternoon. It seemed like many times Maxwell was turned around and trying to catch up to his assignment. To be fair, both reserve cornerbacks could start for most teams, so we have to understand who we are evaluating here. And Maxwell did redeem himself with excellent position at the three yard line and intercepted the ball thrown by Kaepernick.
On a day where Seattle had a few large plays, they all paled in comparison to one play. With time running down in the 4th quarter the 49ers had the ball with a lot green between them and the end zone, the ball was handed to Frank Gore. 51 yards later the 49ers found themselves deep inside enemy territory and within field goal range. Let me pause here and give Gore high praise…not for his run, albeit a very good run, but for his smarts. He still had presence of mind to get down in bounds to keep the clock running. This ate precious seconds off of the clock, seconds that the Seahawks desperately needed.
On a day that saw the 49ers complete 5 for 13 third downs one stands out in particular. Colin Kaepernick rolled out to his left and kept the ball for 8 yards, it was 3rd and 7 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the game. A stop here would have led to a San Francisco field goal and given the ball back to Seattle with plenty of time for Wilson to drive the field. Just one of many chances for the Seahawks to notch a win.
What hurts more than the loss are the ever-mounting injuries on this team. We have lost K.J. Wright, weak side linebacker, to a ‘broken foot’ for approximately 6 weeks. This will allow Malcolm Smith to fill in…next up. Max Unger also left in the second quarter with a strained pectoral, there is no time table for his return. “Step up Lemuel Jeanpierre, you are the next contestant on replace an injured Seahawk” (apologies to Rod Roddy, wherever you may be). Add these to the list of Brandon Browner, Percy Harvin and Walter Thurmond (suspension) and you have a list of substantially important players that are absent. Does it seem like we are plugging the proverbial dike each week?
Make no doubt, Seattle is the better team, but on this day San Francisco bested what we put on the field. There was no fear in Seattle’s eyes at any time during this game, in fact it looked like they felt they could turn on their mojo any time they wanted to to win the game. The Seahawks didn’t look devastated by the loss and I didn’t feel bad about the loss…what? Me, a rabid fan, not feeling bad about this loss? No, because I know more often than not we will beat San Francisco and I had prepared myself for a let-down game.
Even with the outcome of this game, there has been a changing of the guards in the NFC West, Seattle is now the hunted. San Francisco didn’t verbalize this sentiment but you can read between the lines as they spoke before and after the game. They feel like they are now pursuing the Seahawks.
Shhh…don’t tell San Francisco but the worst part for them is that if they meet us in the playoffs they will be hunting on our turf-where the hunters become the hunted. Go Hawks!