Three things from the Seahawks’ win over San Francisco
The Seahawks’ 17-7 victory over San Francisco on Sunday summarized the four-year series against the Jim Harbaugh-coached 49ers in that Seattle fell behind early, rallied behind an unflinchingly physical running game and ultimately left absolutely no doubt about the outcome.
But before turning the page to Arizona, it’s time to look at what we learned from the Seahawks’ victory over San Francisco.
Three things we learned:
1. The Seahawks won this rivalry.
That can be stated definitively after Seattle swept the regular-season series against San Francisco and with Harbaugh not expected back as the 49ers’ coach. San Francisco beat Seattle in Harbaugh’s 49ers debut, and in fact, San Francisco won the first three meetings in the series after he took over. But Seattle has won five of the past six, including the NFC Championship Game, and just beat the 49ers twice in the span of 18 days. Well, they didn’t just beat them, they squished them as the 49ers managed a total of 10 points in those eight quarters.
2. Seattle’s pass rush is the most improved part of this team.
To say the Seahawks’ pass rush is almost twice as good as it was to start the season is neither exaggeration nor a metaphor. Through the first seven games, Seattle had 10 sacks and the Seahawks were 4-3. Seattle has 19 sacks over the past seven games, going 6-1. The Seahawks’ six sacks of Colin Kaepernick on Sunday were the team’s most in any game since they had seven sacks in Arizona on Oct. 17, 2013.
3. Paul Richardson will be a factor going forward.
For all the talk about Richardson’s speed, his technical ability as a route runner might get overlooked, and he’s earning Russell Wilson’s trust with plays like his catch to convert a third-and-10 in the third quarter or his grab during Seattle’s hurry-up drive for a field goal just before halftime in Philadelphia. He has not had the immediate impact of some of the other receivers chosen in this year’s draft, but it looks like Richardson is just getting warmed up.
Three things we’re still trying to figure out:
1. Just how dominant has Seattle’s defense been the past month?
The Seahawks have allowed 27 points – total – over the past four games. To put that in perspective, there were six teams that allowed that many points or more this weekend alone. Of the three touchdown drives Seattle has given up, two required fourth-down conversions before the opponent scored. San Francisco ran only five plays in Seattle’s side of the field in the second half, never got the ball inside Seattle’s 35 in the second half and on their two third-quarter possessions, the 49ers didn’t get the ball outside their own 20. Yep. Didn’t get outside their own 20.
2. Is Seattle’s offense going to be a stumbling block?
The Seahawks had three scoring drives in this game, two of which were aided by penalties against the 49ers. And for as well as Seattle has played on defense the past four weeks, the Seahawks have had difficulty capitalizing on all the scoring opportunities whether it was settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns or letting Wilson’s mistakes push them out of field-goal range entirely. The Seahawks have won four straight games – all by double digits – despite scoring fewer than 20 points in three of those four games.
3. What was Earl Thomas doing when he was staring at Marshawn Lynch?
Thomas is an emotional player, someone who reacts to big plays by the offense whether it’s a long scramble by Wilson or – more often – to a particularly punishing run by Lynch. After Lynch stepped out of bounds following a 15-yard run into San Francisco territory, Thomas came off the bench and onto the field and stared at Lynch without saying anything until an official came over and urged Thomas back to the bench. It was really cool, and just kind of odd. What were they thinking?