When it was 14-3 Seattle and all was right in the world.
You can't make this shit up: Second play of San Francisco's first drive. 49ers break 3 WR, I. Vernon Davis is playing, essentially, a slot back position. Seattle in a base 4-3. Before the snap, Davis motions left. Brian Russell saunters on screen, playing about 10 yards back, in what looks like man coverage matched against Davis. At the snap, Davis runs directly at Russell. Russell immediately loses a step against the speedy tight end and is put into a mush-legged trail position. Davis is free on a deep skinny post over the middle. J.T. O'Sullivan delivers a strike, perfectly leading Davis, but Deon Grant comes from over top, scares Davis out of his route and delivers a shoulder bump for good measure. Rarely does a team get to see a play that bad by its starting free safety. Russell is badly beat on a play with homerun potential. But rarely does a team get to see a play that bad by its tight end. Davis drops the route for fear of getting hit. It's poetic justice Grant pops him anyhow.
Always in the right place: One wonders if Babineaux is so capable of making big plays because his reckless, blunderous style creates high leverage situations. Consider: On Manny Lawson's blocked punt, Will Heller bypasses Lawson attempting to gain a step on his downfield coverage. That's a mistake, you don't let Lawson by without at least a bump. Jordan Babineaux bypasses Lawson on his way to recovering the blocked punt. That's an unforgivable mistake, Babineaux is the last blocker between Lawson and Jon Ryan. As the man who created the blunder, Babineaux is perfectly placed to recover the punt. He does, turns a big negative into a first down and once again vultures heroics out of his own mess.
Like Shaun Alexander: I wonder if people have put to rest their Alexander hatred enough to recognize one of his finer qualities in another Seahawks back?
Ninth play of the Jordan "Midas" Babineaux drive. Seattle breaks 3 WR, I. 49ers in that oh so cute and perplexing nickel. At the snap, Mike Nolan sends Dashon Goldson hard on a nickel/safety blitz. (Let's consider for a second, after trading his family, body part by body part, for an elite linebacker corps, and facing a team without a single good wide receiver, Nolan played nearly every snap in a 4-2 nickel.) Goldson misreads the play, batters Matt Hasselbeck and is out of the play. Leonard Weaver runs up center and puts a hard block on Takeo Spikes. Seattle has created a good center lane for a productive run, but Jones, reading his left side line's push and the vacancy created by Goldson's blitz runs left. Good read, from there Jones keeps his pads square, his feet moving and sorta glides into the end zone. A low-effort cutback run featuring the uncanny field awareness of Shaun Alexander.
The SackMaker: Tony Siragusa was quick to scold O'Sullivan on Julian Peterson's sack, but if he looked more carefully he'd have seen right defensive tackle Lawrence Jackson providing the inside pressure that stops O'Sullivan from stepping into the pocket and, in fact, forces him into Peterson's arms.
The good and bad of Howard Green: In a nutshell.
The following play, fourth of San Francisco's second drive. You know the one. San Francisco breaks 2 WR, 2 TE, Rb. Seattle in a base 4-3. At the snap, Green bulldozes Eric Heitmann, shoves him into Frank Gore, cuts right, closes in on FRANK GORE, strips the ball and starts the whole ballyhoo that ends with a Craig Terrill air-guitar in the end zone. Unheralded but vital is Marcus Trufant's contain on Gore, a move that contains the still-elite rusher and allows Green back into the play.
Next drive, sixth play. San Francisco's bailed out by a creative blitz by Marshall that matched Patrick Kerney against Arnaz Battle. The Niners break 3 WR, RB, TE. Seahawks 4-2 nickel. Green is aligned over the left "A" gap, but almost over center in a hybrid 1-tech, nose guard position. At the snap, Heitmann runs Green clear out of the play, Gore breaks left, finds no containment right, cuts back in and gashes Seattle for 23. Green doesn't hold the point and, despite his size, is weak against the double team. The next play Green is washed out and Gore grabs another three.
Eighth play. 49ers break 3 WR, RB (Left), TE. Seahawks in a base 4-3. Brandon Mebane rips the lid off the offensive line, barreling into the center, causing mass confusion, dropping Tony Wragge, Heitmann and left tackle Joe Staley, leaving Bernard chillin' on the right and allowing Seattle's entire linebacker corps into the backfield. Gore is stopped after no gain. Gore subs out.
Wahle and Willis: Second play of Seattle's concluding drive. Hawks break 3 WR, TE, Rb. 49ers, nickel. The play is a sweep left with Mike Wahle pulling. Wahle is running up and wide, attempting to get in front of Jones and provide a lead block in the second level, but Wahle recognizes Patrick Willis breaking on Jones and cuts up field, engaging Willis. Wahle rides Willis, and Jones turns the corner. Willis - who is, if we can shed our homerism for a second, pretty damn awesome - disengages from Wahle and tackles Jones after seven. Had Wahle not adjusted, his pull block would've been pointless, because one can be sure that the man who still tackled Jones after getting blocked would have been the man that tackled Jones a lot earlier had he not been blocked.
Spencer and Womack: The next play defines the Chris Spencer/Floyd Womack partnership. Seattle breaks 2 WR, TE, SB. Niners, nickel. Aubrayo Franklin and Justin Smith attempt a quick stunt inside. Womack drops his block, allowing Smith in. Spencer puts an arm on each man, stonewalls them and preserves the pocket. Womack continues to block his no-man zone. Hasselbeck finds John Carlson for 16 and the first.