This past Sunday the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Seattle to play their division rival Seahawks for a holiday season showdown. Unfortunately, the 49ers got the gift of coal from the Seahawks, as they were completely decimated 42-13. The Seahawks came into the game sporting a two-game winning streak in which they put up 50 or more points in each, and they were looking to really put a beating on the 49ers. Conversely, the 49ers were coming off a huge win versus the New England Patriots and were looking to solidify the NFC west title. With the loss, the 49ers are in severe jeopardy of losing the lead in the NFC west, and look all too vulnerable heading into the playoffs.
As mentioned many times on this site, both teams depend on their run game to pound out victories. Regardless of the defensive presence across the line of scrimmage, their success is in direct correlation to how often and how hard they run the ball. The two teams proved this fact by the lopsided blow out that took place. San Francisco ran the ball a total of 19 times over the course of the entire game, and seven of those rushes were by the quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Starting running back Frank Gore only ran the ball six times on the night, a season low for him. He finished the night with only 28 yards. The team as a whole only finished with 82 rushing yards, compared to the Seahawks 176 rushing yards. It is a statistical fact that the 49ers do not perform well when they take the ball from Gore’s hands, and they will have a difficult time moving through the playoffs if they stick with their current offensive scheme.
Kaepernick was again very pedestrian, for as talented as he is, he seems to have amazing highs to go with his drowning lows from game to game. He finished the night 19-36 for 244 yards and one touchdown with one interception. As previously stated he did have seven rushes for 31 yards as well. What’s more alarming than just his statistic line is the incomplete passes that he threw. Not that he threw them, or how many he threw, but the accuracy of which he threw them. Absolutely give credit to the Seahawks defense in their role in making the game a nightmare for Kaepernick, but some of his throws were not even close to their intended target. Kaepernick removed himself from the pocket too early most of the night and was relegated to throwing a lot of balls off balance or moving. He appeared to be trying to be the superhero and make big plays with his arm too often. And while it is good to have a strong arm in the league, it does pose a problem when the quarterback is too inexperienced to force throws.
The Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson did a lot of same things Kaepernick did with moving around out of the pocket. The difference there was that Wilson used finesse rather than strength to make his completions. And though he only completed 15 passes on the night, four of them were for touchdowns. Case in point, it’s better to be efficient than strong.
It also helped that the Seahawks stuck to their game plan of a hard running attack. Marshawn Lynch again ran rough shot over his opponents, as they went to his talents early and often. He finished the day with 26 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. One of which was a receiving touchdown. There isn’t any doubt that if they continue to use Lynch this heavily in the offensive scheme that they make a decent run in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, even though the 49ers have already locked up a playoff birth, the road is undoubtedly more difficult. Injuries to Vernon Davis and Mario Manningham could eliminate a couple much needed threats going into the playoffs. Though Davis has not been part of the offense for some time now, his presence does command respect and accountability. Manningham is probably the biggest loss; he has playoff experience and has the label of being a playmaker in big moments. And with defensive end Justin Smith still sidelined, the future does not look nearly as good as it once was.
The 49ers can clinch the NFC west this week with a win against their division cellar dweller Arizona Cardinals. And at this point, a win in the final week is not a guarantee by any means.
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