By Brady Henderson
As expected, the matchup between two of the NFL’s nastiest defenses produced plenty of big hits.
Vernon Davis has the concussion to prove it.
Kam Chancellor knocked the 49ers tight end out of the game in the first quarter, setting the tone for what would become one of the more physical Seahawks games in recent memory.
“It was a big-hitting night. It was a very physical night and maybe even one of our better nights at just knocking people around,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told “Brock and Salk” Monday.
49ers tight end Vernon Davis left the game for good after suffering a concussion on this collision with Kam Chancellor. (AP)
The Seahawks ran away early, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter en route to a 42-13 win. While this game lacked any second-half drama, it didn’t disappoint in terms of physicality. Both teams traded big blows all night long, but it was Seattle’s hard-hitting strong safety who delivered the knockout punch.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick saw Davis running open down the right sideline, but the pass he floated over two defenders gave Chancellor time to close. Chancellor leveled Davis just after the pass arrived, knocking the ball out and sending the tight end to the sideline with a concussion. Davis did not return.
Earl Thomas said it was among the hardest hit he’s seen this season.
“It was like a car wreck,” he said. “Boom! Real loud.”
Officials flagged Chancellor for unnecessary roughness, though the exact nature of the foul wasn’t clear. Chancellor said officials told him me illegally lunged at Davis. Carroll said he was told there was helmet-to-helmet contact. Both felt the hit was clean.
“That hit on the sidelines was so vicious that they just had to throw the flag, something must be wrong, you can’t hit somebody that hard,” Carroll said. “But as it turned out, you look at it and you go, ‘What’s the problem?’ So we’ll find out from the league what they think.”
Chancellor wasn’t done. Later in the first half, he put Bruce Miller on his back after the 49ers fullback caught a pass in the flats.
By the end of the game, 49ers receivers and tight ends seemed more interested in self-preservation than exposing their bodies to make catches.
“As [defensive backs] we said it’s going to start with us in the back, coming out there being physical and just setting the tone,” Chancellor said. “I think we set the tone today.”
The 49ers lost wide receiver Mario Manningham to a knee injury in the second half when he was tackled low by Leroy Hill. Marshawn Lynch, never one to shy away from contact, seemed to go out of his way to seek it out on occasion.
“They like to bully teams and knock them around,” Chancellor said of the 49ers. “So we’re going to bully back. If you bully them back, then they’ll bow down. That’s exactly what happened.”
While the game was one-sided, the hitting wasn’t.
Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson, San Francisco’s hard-hitting safety duo, lived up to their reputations. Whitner leveled Zach Miller during one reception. Goldson, a former Husky, brought down Doug Baldwin with a tackle that looked more like a WWE-style body-slam.
But there was no topping Chancellor’s hit on Davis, which will certainly be cited by those who feel the NFL is being overly vigilant in its attempt to protect offensive players.
Chancellor was flagged and reportedly fined a total of $60,000 for a pair of hits he delivered last season. Both included contact with the receiver’s helmet. He appeared to avoid such contact with Davis.
“Kam’s figuring it out. He’s learned how to do it, which is great,” Carroll said. “But the officials haven’t caught up with the tempo of it and the impact, and maybe there will be enough examples of it this year and in the league meetings and stuff we’ll be able to point it out. We’ll see what happens. I would love for that play to be emblematic of what is legal.”