The Seattle Seahawks entered into this game without it’s top two running backs, it’s starting left guard, it’s top corner, it’s top nickel corner, it’s main edge rusher, and it’s starting strong safety. They entered the game with the worst defense in the league (at least, in terms of yards allowed), and they were facing a division opponent who was coming off of two impressive wins in a row, while they were coming off of a disappointing overtime loss last Sunday night in Arizona.
Tons of momentum was on San Francisco’s side in this one, even though they were dealt their own share of injuries. In the opening series, it appeared like San Francisco might be the better team. Their defense appeared electrically charged, and seemed to be in the playbook of the Seattle offense, forcing a quick three and out. Their offense seemed in control as they moved down the field until former 49er defensive pack DJ Reed picked off Jimmy Garoppolo, and that was enough to ignite a spark that Seattle needed. Russell Wilson started his cooking, and Bobby Wagner woke up and the Seattle defenders followed his impressive charge.
Seattle’s leader on offense, and their leader on defense took this game over (along with some other cat named DK). The final score will show that this game was more competitive than it was. It took backup 49er quarterback Nik Mullen’s coming in with fresh legs in place of injured Jimmy Garoppolo to spark the 49er offense, but the point deficit was too great, and even when he started to generate points, the 49er defense couldn’t stop Russell Wilson when they needed to do so.
Make no mistake, Seattle handled the 49ers in this one. Here are my notes.
This was a significantly better outing by a Seattle defense that has been carried through the last six games by its offense. What was most impressive to me about this defensive effort was that this defense played without four main defenders and they took Jimmy Garoppolo to the woodshed. Young players stepped up and that is a really good thing.
DJ Reed looks like Seattle now has deep competition at nickel corner between him and Ugo Amadi. It’s going to be interesting how Seattle uses both players moving forward. Pete Carroll hinted after the game that the competition is on there.
For my money, the biggest defensive plus is that rookie edge rusher Alton Robinson looks like he belongs in this league. He played stout in setting edges against the tricky 49er run game, and he got good pressure on their quarterback. I’ve been high on Robinson all through this early part of the season, and I am higher on him now. He absolutely needs to be a part of the pass rush rotation moving forward, even with the addition of newly acquired Carlos Dunlap and whomever else Seattle might trade for before the deadline on Tuesday. Robinson looks like a legit NFL pass rusher. Play him. Rotate him. Use him. He looks good.
Also showing well on the defense was another strong outing from rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks. He looks so much like Bobby Wagner, it’s easy to get both players confused for each other. In the last two games since coming back from injury, Brooks is showing the speed and instincts necessary to stop the run, and it feels like he is just getting going. It’s exciting to me what this defense can grow into as the season moves along if he and Wagner can stay healthy and build a rapport inside with KJ Wright staying at SAM backer. His presence on the field makes Seattle’s defense faster. It will be considerably faster when they finally get star safety Jamal Adams back on the field. This is significant if Seattle’s defense is going to turn the corner this season.
After a rough opening series, Russell Wilson found his groove once Seattle starting moving him out of the pocket, and the 49er defenders had to be concerned about his legs. This opened up the offense and he started hitting his receivers (most notably DK Metcalf). Russ didn’t pass for ridiculous yardage but this was one of his sharper games in a few weeks.
We got efficient Russ in this one, and it was a much needed sight to behold. He went 27/37 in completions, 261 yards through the air, and most importantly of all, he threw 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions against a 49er defense that hasn’t given up a lot of touchdown passes. I will always maintain that efficient Russ is the best Russ, and he was that Russ in this game. Bravo.
The player of the game for me in this one is DK Metcalf and that is taking nothing away from the strong defensive effort of Bobby Wagner, and the strong efficiency of Russell Wilson. Metcalf owned the 49er secondary. They tried as hard as they could to knock him out of the game with violence from their safeties, but it looked like each time that they collided with him over the middle, they endured the residuals of that violence more than he did. He stood his ground and took it. He also dished it out grabbing 12 passes for 161 yards and two scores. Metcalf is just scratching the surface of what he can be in this league and that appears to be a 49er nightmare for years.
It was nice to see rookie running back DJ Dallas score two touchdowns (one through the air, another on the ground). He had a tough task stepping in as a starter for Chris Carson against a hungry 49er defense, and he hung in there when there wasn’t a lot of great running lanes and the 49er linebackers closed in on him quickly whenever he caught passes. This was a gritty performance for the rookie that won’t show up in the stats.
Circling back to the defense, I think it is definitely worth noting that they were able to hold superstar 49er tight end Goerge Kittle to only 2 catches for 39 yards, and as a bonus, they knocked him out of the game. It’s significant that he was the 49ers’ best offensive weapon, and it is significant in that the Seattle defense has had problems in the past dealing with tight ends. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr has been taking a lot of heat lately from fans. He deserves praise in this one for scheming San Francisco’s best weapon out of this game. Good game, Coach.
Finally, the underrated play of the game was Cody Barton knocking that ball out of kickoff returner Dante Pettis and giving Seattle great field position after the scored a touchdown. Seattle was able to put another score on the board afterwards, but Barton’s timely play on special teams gifted the offense. This is how you play complete team football. This is how you complete the circle of Pete Carroll football. Barton’s special teams play this season has been really good.
It’s hard to pick on the defense in this game, but after they knocked Jimmy Garropolo out, they allowed backup Nik Mullens to move the ball with relative ease in the fourth quarter for twenty points. I wanted a blowout against the 49ers in the worst way in the closing quarter. I felt it was my reward for enduring close victories all season long last year that were spilling into this season. Seahawk fans deserved a good old fashioned 49er beat down. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Mullens was able to make it a more competitive game at the end, and that has to leave a somewhat sour taste for Seattle fans pining for the old Legion of Boom days.
One offensive series that I didn’t like in this game happened in the second half when Russell started chasing his signature deep pass with a healthy lead. It wasn’t necessary. Seattle needed to keep the ball moving and they needed to chew up clock. Instead, he tried hitting Tyler Lockett with one of his signature “moon balls” in the end zone from mid field, and they didn’t connect. The series stalled and they were forced to punt. This equated to a cat playing with a mouse, and as banged up as the 49ers are, they are not a team to toy with this way. They are extremely well coached, and prideful. Just kill clock and put them away.
The 49er defenders were trying everything that they could to knock Seattle players out of the game, and the zebras were kind of letting them. Personally, I’m all for letting players play on defense, but what annoys me about this is that when 49er safety Mac Harris collided with DK Metcalf in a bang bang play over the middle that broke up a pass, no flag was thrown when Bobby Wagner had a similar play against the Arizona Cardinals last week and a flag was tossed.
Truth be known, I am bitching about the inconsistencies in which refs call games. I know that it is part of the game. I’ve known it for a long time, but it still chops my hide that Wagner got that penalty last week. It extended a drive for the Cardinals what was critical for them ultimately winning the game in overtime.
Why wasn’t a flag then tossed with Harris laid the lumber on Metcalf after the ball came into his hands? It was the same fricking scenario.
Either let defenders defend when it comes to bang bang situations, or don’t let them. Just give us some consistency.
I know it’s a tall ask. I know it’s like asking for a conversion to renewable energy to save the environment over jobs in the fossil fuel industry, but it’s a tall task that can happen. It’s doable. So I am asking for it.
I’m just not holding my breath that it will ever happen in my lifetime.
The Seattle Seahawks are now sitting pretty at 6-1, heading towards the second half of the season. By beating the 49ers, they avoided going 0-2 in the NFC West division, and that is significant. This is why this win was important.
Seattle now has extended an opportunity to stay ahead in the West, and further more, stay ahead in the NFC Conference. That’s a big deal.
They should be getting Jamal Adams this week against the Buffalo Bills, and they should be getting Carlos Dunlap to add to the pass rush. It’s also very possible that they will finally have Snacks Harrison active at defensive tackle. It will be very timely to add these three veterans to this defense in what looks to be a heavy wait match against the AFC East leading Bills.
As I write all this, I also think that there is a strong chance that this team might look to make one more significant add before the trade deadline on Tuesday. I think it is very likely that they will look to add one more player to the defensive line. Dunlap should be a boost to the pass rush, but the trade deadline provides on opportunity to add one more player that will make the defensive line a deeper rotation again, finally.
If that player is sitting out there, I think that they should pull that trigger. I know that their draft capital as dwindled, but I don’t care. If they right player is there, they should just go get him. It might not even require picks.
It is really interesting to me that they made rookie fourth round pick Cody Parkinson active at tight end late last week, thus giving them five tight ends active on the roster. Parkinson has a lot of pass catching potential. Guess who also is another pretty good young pass catching tight end already on Seattle’s roster? Jacob Hollister, who was Seattle’s third leading receiver last year.
I think it’s entirely possible Seattle could trade a player like Hollister by Tuesday for what will ultimately amount to adding another pass rusher. There could be a team out there in the playoff hunt looking to boost its passing offense that has depth on the defensive line willing to make a player for player move. Last week, I outlined a possibility with Baltimore.
While I think there is an outside chance Seattle could add an impact player at another position, like wide receiver if they want to further go all in on Russell cooking, or corner if there is lingering concerns about the health of Shaquill Griffin (along with the health history of Quinton Dunbar), I think they need to add another piece to this defensive line, specifically the pass rush.
I don’t care if it is another edge rusher to go along with Dunlap, or if it is a defensive tackle. They can use pass rush help anyway that they can get it. They are not deep enough at either spot.
As my dear old dad used to say, you can never have enough defensive linemen. So, go get another one, John Schneider. Go get one more. Be aggressive, and go all in on 2020 and the opportunity for Seattle to properly contend for a championship.
If this defense can generate just an average pass rush, if they can win occasionally with rushing just four players, that could be enough for Seattle to get back to the Super Bowl. That’s what the Kansas City Chiefs had for them last year. They were superb on offense, and they were just okay enough on defense. You can win with that.
So just do it.