We left off with Seattle hiccupping its way through a two minute drill. As seamless as Seattle was against the Rams, the Seahawks were equally rough against the 49ers. Even this drive, its lone scoring drive, was all fits and starts. It had the brevity and timing of a bad joke by your drunken uncle. The payoff was red-faced nausea. It was the last meaningful drive of the game.
Frank Gore took the ball on the first play of second half and ran away Seattle's slim hopes of a come back. I will encapsulate the third and fourth quarter in a couple notes pieces. It wasn't meaningful or representative football, one can debate if it was even competitive football, but it was developmental football. Players like Aaron Curry, Will Herring and Red Bryant, players that are important to Seattle's future, played and displayed their polish and progress. That deserves attention even in the least competitive environment. For a half, it was preseason all over again.
- Seattle ran a wide receiver screen on its next play. Seattle set in trips left, with Deon Butler, John Carlson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh forming the left, top and right angles of the triangle. This is the kind of designed play I love. Get the ball in a receiver's hands and attack the cornerback's cushion. Housh ran behind a couple determined blocks for six and the first. Say what you will about his long speed, Housh hasn't lost much quickness or agility.
- The next two plays resulted from that conservative, but efficient screen pass and especially the hurry up offense. Seattle split three wide, with Carlson at left tight end. San Francisco set in its basic 4-2 nickel and sent its back seven in a cover-3 zone defense. Houshmandzadeh was in the slot and Deon Butler and Nate Burleson manned the outside. Carlson and Housh ran ten yards and hooked in, drawing underneath coverage. Butler and Burleson went fifteen yards and hooked out, between the safety, outside linebacker and cornerback zones. It's a classic cover 3 buster, and kudos to Matt Hasselbeck and Burleson for teaming to find the soft spot. Burleson settled in and then faded back on Hasselbeck's perfectly placed floater.
- Seattle was driving with a mix of quick hitters and zone splitters. The 49ers front four couldn't pressure in time, and man and zone coverage had failed. Mike Singletary ordered a stampede. A stampede formation involves no down linemen. The front seven mills around like cattle. The goal is to confuse offensive line assignments and disguise the blitz. It's a solid formation, rather avant-garde for the NFL, but can't overcome the seven man blitz. Deon Butler was single covered on the outside left and Shawntae Spencer too concerned about being beat deep to react to Butler's short curl. Such is the power of speed. Such is the power of complimentary play calls. Such is the impotence of the seven-man blitz.