Sometimes the hardest thing about writing about the teams I love is when I have to write something about them after an awful performance like the one the Seahawks put up against San Francisco.
I started taking notes on this game, but when Frank Gore busted out his second long run of the game on the first play of the third quarter, I tossed my pen on the table and resorted to angry texting with friends. It shouldn’t be surprising that they were just as angry as me. The F-bomb was used in so many new and interesting ways that they will be opening a branch wing for us in hell.
So, let’s get started before I find another excuse not to review this game.
The play of the game for me was the aforementioned 80 yard run by Gore straight up the middle to start the 3rd quarter. It was the same play he broke for 79 yards in the first quarter and something the offseason acquisitions of Colin Cole and Cory Redding were supposed to keep from happening. Although the defense did a decent job stopping the run otherwise, apart from those two runs Gore had 14 carries for 58 yards, the long run has been a killer for them in the past.
Despite trailing the whole way and playing like a high school junior varsity squad early, Seattle was in this game the whole way. Down 13-10 at the half, I felt there was a real chance for a turnaround coming out of the locker room. A fly in the ointment was losing Matt Hasselbeck right before the half on a punishing, but clean, hit from Patrick Willis to Hasselbeck’s back at the goal line. But Seneca Wallace is an above average backup quarterback who got a lot of time in the preseason to get comfortable with the playbook and the receivers. If anything, he had more time than Hasselbeck.
Even after the big run, Seattle was in it until the end. A combination of San Francisco’s defense being very good, Seattle injuries, and Seattle mistakes at the worst possible moments made the deficit too much to overcome. With that, let’s move on to the list.
1. Justin Forsett. Every time he touched the ball, he ran with authority and determination. Forsett broke tackles and used his blockers to get positive yardage. He reminds me of Darren Sproles, from San Diego, in that he is very thick in the lower body and hard to bring down. Much harder than Maurice Morris, whom Forsett replaced when Morris signed with Detroit.
2. Deon Butler. The rookie wide receiver from Penn State had a great catch early from Hasselbeck and showed excellent ability as a gunner on the punt unit by downing a punt at the one yard line while walking the tight rope on the end zone line.
3. Laurence Jackson. The second year defensive end from USC had his best game with 2 sacks, 4 tackles, a strip of Shaun Hill and swatting down a pass attempt. Jackson was dogged last year for taking plays off but so far this season he has played hard every time he has been on the field.
4. TJ Houshmandzadeh. Not a great game, but TJ led all Seahawk receivers as he caught 4 passes for 62 yards, but he was targeted 8 times total.
1. Run Defense. 49ers running back Frank Gore set his career long run of 79 yards in the first quarter. He then broke it with 80 yards in the third. Both runs were up the middle.
2. Aaron Curry. The rookie looked it against San Francisco. Granted, he was the only starting linebacker in the game after the 49ers first series, Tatupu played briefly before sitting out the rest of the game and Leroy Hill didn’t travel with the team, but as good as Curry was against the Rams, he was just as bad against the 49ers.
3. Ken Lucas. Getting beat by Isaac Bruce is not a good sign.
4. Offensive Line. It was always going to be rough when Sean Locklear left the game with an ankle injury early, but the line played reasonably well. The bad part was a lack of a running game and the uncanny ability to get a penalty at the exact wrong time.
1. The Safeties. Deon Grant and Jordan Babineaux were both caught in the wrong place at the wrong time more than once. Particularly on Gore’s two runs. I understand stuffing the box with 8 and 9 defenders against the 49ers. Shaun Hill is not Joe Montana but Frank Gore is the real deal. If you do bring up that many defenders into the box, then you had better stop the run. On both of Gore’s runs, they didn’t.
2. Injuries. A total of 11 starters, if you count Deon Branch as a starter anymore, were out with injury by the end of the game. Lost against the 49ers were Lofa Tatupu (hamstring), Sean Locklear (ankle), Josh Wilson (ankle), and Matt Hasselbeck (back/ribs). The status of these players are up in the air at the moment although the latest word has Hasselbeck with either a rib bruise or a rib fracture, depending on which “source” you subscribe to. Either way, I would expect him to be gone for at least a week. Locklear was in a walking boot after the game and may be back to face the Bears in Seattle on Sunday. The team is hoping that Walter Jones will be back with Locklear, something that should help solidify the offensive line quite a bit. Hopefully defensive tackle Brandon Mebane will be back too. He usually starts in the slot that Frank Gore gashed the line at for both of his home runs.
3. Starts. It’s only been two games but the Seahawks have looked slow and confused in both of them at the start. Not a good trend because San Francisco looked fast and aggressive at the start and, unlike St Louis the week before, were able to make the Seahawks pay for it.
4. Shotgun snaps. I have not seen a center hike the ball over a quarterback’s head in a long time but it happened twice for the Seahawks on Sunday. The first was an impressive rainbow that took Seattle from a promising drive that had just crossed in to San Francisco territory to a long second down back in Seattle’s side. The second was almost as bad with the same drive killing results. With as much shotgun as the Seahawks expected to run this year, shouldn’t this be something that wouldn’t be happening?
In the end, it’s only a loss in the second week of the season. Yes, it wasn’t a good loss but most losses aren’t good. Seattle got pushed around but was in the game until the end. The offensive line is a patchwork quilt but only allowed one sack while playing a left tackle, Brandon Frye, who signed with the team two weeks ago. The defense held steady against the pass, allowing 7.6 yards per catch with a long of 17 yards. While Mike Holmgren’s offense relied on a more rigid scheme that bombed badly after the injuries of last season, Seattle has shown the ability to cope with injuries better this year. There is a lot to work with here and no one should be pulling the plug yet.