By Brady Henderson
A few things that stood out after re-watching the Seahawks’ win over San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game:
“Man, he was good,” Seahawks coach Pete Carrol said of the way strong safety Kam Chancellor played in the NFC title game. (AP)
Chancellor did it all. Kam Chancellor certainly brought the wood on a few hits – including one on tight end Vernon Davis that put the 49ers tight end on his rear end and may or may been on receiver Michael Crabtree’s mind when he ducked out of a reception later in the second half – but this game was an illustration of what the Pro Bowl safety can do beyond delivering the big blows. He chased down Colin Kaepernick on the quarterback’s 58-yard run in the first half, saving a touchdown. He also made an interception that was a tribute to his intuition, first recognizing the formation then the release by Anquan Boldin and concluding that the receiver was running an out route. Chancellor saw it immediately and didn’t hesitate, running to the exact spot Kaepernick threw the ill-fated pass.
Kaepernick’s cannon. For whatever flaws Kaepernick might have in his mechanics, there’s no question about his arm strength. That much was evident on the bullet he threw to Boldin in the end zone to give San Francisco a 17-10 lead in the third quarter. Not only did Kaepernick throw it roughly 35 yards in the air while jumping off of one foot, but he put enough zip on the pass to clear – albeit barely – the outstretched arm of Earl Thomas.
49ers’ clock management. The 49ers had 3:37 left on the clock and all three of their timeouts in addition to the 2-minute warning when they took over at their own 22 on their final drive. They didn’t have to hurry and they didn’t, at one point even waiting until 4 seconds remained on the play clock to snap the ball. While their decision to take their time was understandable, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said it worked in Seattle’s favor. “They weren’t real fast,” he said. “They really helped us.” What could be questioned was the decision to throw into the end zone on the decisive play. San Francisco had 30 seconds on the clock, two timeouts and a fresh set of downs when Kaepernick threw that pass, and the fact that Richard Sherman was the man in coverage made the decision all the more questionable.
The Immaculate Deflection. That might be overstating it just a bit, but the play Sherman made to tip Kaepernick’s pass to teammate Malcolm Smith on the decisive play was nothing short of spectacular. Just before leaving his feet he received a shove in the back that might have been called offensive pass interference in a different situation, then perfectly time the left-handed swipe as his body was turning in mid-air, tipping the ball right to Smith. Also impressive about the play by Sherman was the focus it took to pull it off. He’d been thrown at only once to that point, something he’s become accustomed to. At times last year, he said after afterward, that lack of action would lead to lapses in concentration. Not this time.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.