It takes time to adapt to a new coaching staff. How much time and how much the team is affected depends on the degree of change. Mike Tomlin took over for Bill Cowher, but left Cowher's structure intact. He is a defense-first head coach that defers to mastermind defensive coordinator, Dick Lebeau. Jim Mora has not dismantled Mike Holmgren's foundation. His time with the team and the foresight of Tim Ruskell has smoothed the transition, but this is still a team in transition. It has grasped new concepts, but also played sloppy football.
The Seahawks first scoring drive was sloppy football. Knowing how sloppy the team played, you can see how talented it is, too.
- Seattle attempted a screen pass on the right to start the drive. Sean Locklear had subbed out. Brandon Frye had subbed in. Injuries can force a change in scheme, too. The play was a mess from the snap.
- Seattle attempted to spread the 49ers wide. It was a highly unbalanced formation. Three wide receivers and Justin Forsett were positioned right and only Nate Burleson was on the left. But instead of accounting for the receivers and thinning their defense, the 49ers overloaded the left and blitzed through Seattle's screen.
- It's a gambit for sure. If Seattle can set and get its blockers out, the 49ers overpursue and potentially allow a long gain. If the blitz arrives too quick and disrupts the timing, the line can't pull and the running back is targeted before the play has materialized. That is what happened. Vallos couldn't get ahead of Julius Jones, Aubrayo Franklin trailed him to the action and Manny Lawson shot from the second level to clobber the exposed back. Jones was dropped for a loss of five.
- On the next play, Seattle play-faked and John Carlson found a favorable matchup against Lawson. Execution had failed them and pure talent put them right back in it. Carlson received for 17.
- False start, Carlson. Backed up again.
- Seattle can't slow backside pursuit or create rushing lanes, Jones is dragged down after a gain of one. Carlson is thrown to the turf by Parys Haralson.
- Seattle sets with four wide receivers. The 49ers blitz. Jones jumps into the pass rush lane and pops Patrick Willis. Matt Hasselbeck targets T.J. Houshmandzadeh sticking a post route and separating from outside linebacker Marque Harris. The reception achieves 13. Two execution failures are dug out by a talent mismatch.
- It's now third and one. Seattle shows a rare look, splitting two wide, tight end, running back, but with Owen Schmitt playing half back. He motions left from right tackle to behind the right "A" gap. Takeo Spikes does the Ted linebacker thing and powers into the pile. Schmitt does the Schmitt-faced thing and hits him in the hole. Schmitt helps push the pile forward and Jones coverts the first.
- Houshmanzadeh runs a deep curl into a soft spot in the zone and Hasselbeck hits him for 21. The pass is out of a play fake. Hasselbeck hits Housh and is hit by Harris a split second afterward. Carlson, struggling throughout this drive, functions as a pick, never slowing Harrison but instead putting a body between Harrison and Ray Willis. Harrison comes clean around the edge, unblocked.
- Jones motions out wide and Hasselbeck hands it to fullback Justin Griffith for one yard. No one was fooled, Knapp.
- The next play was almost something special. I was critical of San Francisco signing Justin Smith, but he has been very productive. He gets a hand on Jones that stops him from breaking a long gain.
- Seattle resorts to a stock formation: A wide receiver on each side, Carlson right and the back in "I" formation. The Niners set in a 3-4. Off the snap, Steve Vallos and Max Unger power Aubrayo Franklin out of middle and deep into the second level. This was a matchup they were regularly winning. Griffith hits the hole, cuts right and runs through Patrick Willis. Both end on the turf. Jones is about to hit the hole. The outside linebackers are attacking the edges and functionally out of the play. Ted linebacker Spikes is screened out by Vallos and Unger's dominant double team. Willis is about to get knocked on his ass. The secondary is playing pass. Rob Sims has engaged and stopped Smith, but he battles on just outside the hole. Jones explodes through the hole, but before he can fully exit, Smith gets a hold of his jersey. Jones spins through the tackle but can't keep his feet under him and spins to the ground. Nate Clements is the first to touch and is credited with the tackle. Inches, man. Smith doesn't get a hand on him, Jones is free to the third level.
- The drive ends with an incomplete pass to Houshmandzadeh. It's a good play call, Brian Billick be damned. Seattle gets the matchup they want, Housh single covered by Shawntae Spencer, and Hasselbeck lobs it expecting Housh to win the jump ball. Housh never gets position and the pass falls incomplete. Shawntae Spencer is not a very good cornerback. I like a little boldness, if it's smart. Not only was a pass to a single covered Houshmandzadeh smart, it was more likely to be successful than a two yard conversion.