The Seahawks' player snap counts are out for Sunday's win at the CLink against the Niners, so let's take a look.
Instead of offering my notes on player snap counts, I wanted to combine the info above with some of my brief notes about re-watching the game. These were quick and dirty, and random, so apologies if you find them worthless.
- Jeremy lane is sticky in coverage - never saw him out of position on a play, and seemed to be in on a lot of breakups. This was the first time I wondered if he might challenge for Brandon Browner's starting gig once Browner is back. I doubt it, simply because Browner plays with such physicality on the outside, but Lane will begin to push him, I think.
- Colin Kaepernick was not impressive in this game, despite his strong play in earlier games this year - low throws, bad clock management, overthrows on deep shots, poor body language, choppy footwork, frenetic in the pocket. You can never judge a young QB by one game, obviously, but Kaep will want to flush this one and move forward.
- Big drop by Michael Crabtree on first series for 49ers -- kept crowd amped up, followed by personal foul penalty on kickoff, and this turned into huge swing of momentum for Seattle. Two plays, touchdown. Seahawks rolling, crowd ecstatic.
- K.J. Wright had a big game - showed great diagnostics - blowing up plays in the backfield, sniffing out screen passes. Kam Chancellor too. In this one, it was cool to watch how Seattle varies pre-snap looks/coverage concepts, bringing Earl up close to the line, dropping Kam back deep. Even saw Jeremy Lane drop back into deep middle once (I'd assume since receivers were to the other side or it was a heavy jumbo look).
- Doug Baldwin catch on first play -- a play-action bomb -- was unbelievable. It hit his chest as Baldwin elevated, bounced off, Baldwin calmly looked for it, grabbed it with one hand and pulled it in -- essentially a one handed catch. Came on a 2nd and 3, and Dashon Goldson was caught sneaking up in run defense, which is a good time to take a shot when Niners are thinking run.
- Sidney Rice seems to have at least one ridiculously acrobatic catch every game. The skill that some of these plays require is remarkable.
- Michael Robinson offset H-back in the Pistol on several plays -- he sets up blocks well (seals, lead-blocks) and can act as a movable blocking piece for Wilson when he rolls out. Goes along with Seahawks' penchant to put big, immoveable guys on the left side (Okung/Carpenter) and athletic guys on the right (Sweezy/Breno) -- stretch zone to the left, lead-left, pitch left, then bootleg to the right. Often bootlegs will have Breno out right moving around blocking in front of Wilson, and you gotta be mobile to help him effectively when he starts running all over the place. On the right side, you have to be quick too, to get downfield, cut block, and take away backside pursuit on runs to the left.
- Breno Giacomini is really growing on me.
- Marshawn Lynch TD catch was brilliant schematically, as the Seahawks ran two crossing routes in the middle intermediate area of the field, first to vacate the area of linebackers, then dropped Lynch into the zone.
- Kam Chancellor's play, which forced a fumble by Frank Gore, was nothing short of brilliant. Kam started out on right side of the offense (defensive left), sniffed out the counter play (offensive line goes right, running back gets RG pulling to head left), snuck through the line and hit Gore in the backfield.
The Seahawks were all over this play like a bad suit -- so you know their keys and reads were ready for this counter, which is a staple of the Niners' offense. Normally, when you see offensive linemen going right at the snap, you also see linebackers mirroring them.
OL goes right, except for pulling guard, but Seahawks are all over it (both Wagner and Kam).
Below, you can see the angle that Kam will take to cut Gore off at the pass. Keep in mind, Kam was on the other side of the formation. Pretty great read.
Kam punches it out. Forced fumble, NINE Seahawks in the direct vicinity and it squirted out to the Niners. Frustrating, but still a great play.
- I thought Red Bryant had a strong game. Earl Thomas was used in run support a lot. Seahawks blitzed often -- K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner used in that role with increased frequency. (They're both good blitzers, too.) I could see K.J. Wright having 6-7 sacks next year.
- Kam Chancellor's hit on Vernon Davis happened because Kaep hung Davis out to dry a little bit -- more velocity on the pass and that's an easy completion. Kam made up tons of ground while ball was in the air, Davis jumped to catch it, which opened up the opportunity for the big hit by Kam. Play came on a look-and-go route -- a wheel route, pretty much what we see Robert Turbin run once a game.
- Richard Sherman almost had an interception on crossing route in beginning of 2nd quarter - very similar to the interception play later. Kaep was looking for the fade to Moss in the endzone left off the snap, but Jeremy Lane was looking in right at him as he hung with Moss in coverage -- Kaepernick hesitated to pull the trigger, moved to his left and looked for Crabtree in the middle.
- The Seahawks' blocked FG looks like their designed 'block formation' -- Heath Farwell positioned to 'push' Red through the line-- and they had Richard Sherman just hanging out on the wing in the event that Red Bryant's absurdly long armspan would deflect the kick. Sherman was right where he needed to be, scooped it up, and took it to the house. Sherman made so many plays in this game it's ridiculous.
- Seahawks went back to a lot of I-formation stuff in this one. Variable results.
- Turbin is so quick -- really excited about his potential. Great hands -- makes some tough catches, and Seahawks ask him to run real routes. The bobbled pass for an interception was unfortunate of course, but otherwise he had a good game. Willis had that screen play sniffed out from the get-go - would have blown Turbin up had he caught it. Intercepted it instead, which was a great play.
- Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright seem to be improving on the 'underneath zone' coverage -- more precise and spaced in their drops -- better at finding receivers and better spacial recognition. That stuff just comes with experience.
- The 49ers, for the most part, did a great job of staying home on play-action stuff. Forced Russell Wilson to scramble several times on play-action designed 'shot plays.'
- Dashon Goldson is one of those players that you love to hate (but you would love if he was on your team). Celebrates after every play, even when the Niners are down big - but does make some great plays. Reminds me of Lawyer Milloy a little (both Huskies too, which didn't factor in to my comparison).
- Seahawks ran several 3TE sets in the2nd and 3rd quarter, with Sean McGrath as the 'move' guy.
- Jermaine Kearse gets a lot of snaps in 'regular' play -- just another example of Pete Carroll playing his young guys. Hard to believe Kearse is getting significant snaps as a UDFA rookie.
- The Anthony McCoy touchdown pass was a great bit of schematics too -- Bevell had McCoy start out flexed onto the wing, matched up with Niners' CB Culliver. Prior to the snap, McCoy motioned in, closer to the formation than Sidney Rice, who was already in a tight split, and Culliver passed on the coverage responsibilities of McCoy to S Donte Whitner, who was playing deep into the endzone.
McCoy then ran a delayed route, underneath Rice, who ran a rub-route right up the middle (essentially running into the lane that Whitner would need to take to closely mark McCoy.) This moment's hesitation that Whitner used to get around Rice allowed McCoy to get a step on him to the front corner of the endzone. McCoy nearly dropped the pass, and in a similar play to that of Doug Baldwin earlier, caught it off of the bobble. Whitner and Culliver looked at each other like "WTF just happened" -- visible frustration. Wilson's throw was on point too, falling away -- similar to the 2nd baseman throw we've talked about, but falling away into the outfield.
- It's hard to evaluate slot corner play, but Jeremy Lane is holding his own there. He was used to blitz at least once from the slot. Carroll said he's the fastest player on the field, so I could see this being something they utilize going forward.
- Watching Mike Rob lead-block for Lynch is fun. One run in particular caught my eye: Lynch picked up 8 for a first down -- started the play lead zone left -- Robinson saw the right side open up, and it was like 'follow the leader' -- Lynch was right on Robinson's 'six' while Robinson made his way back the opposite direction and picked up the backside linebacker that was filling in the opened gap - Patrick Willis. Lynch then made a nifty strafe move to get past Donte Whitner as he crashed forward to stop the play. I-formation genius. The 'feet connected by a string' concept with Robinson and Lynch was fully visible on the play. If you're a run-game junky, that is a play to watch. 14:17 in the 3rd Quarter. I may break down the play later.
- Seahawks trick play with the Sidney Rice throw -- both receivers downfield seemed to quit on their routes, probably because they were both covered quite well. Rice threw it anyway, and it should have been picked. Seattle set this play up earlier in the game with a similar end around fake, but Wilson threw it instead of pitching it to Rice.
- The deep out throw to Jermaine Kearse for a big first down on third and long by Wilson was outstanding. That throw requires a ton of velocity, timing, and accuracy, and he hit Kearse in the hands right at the sideline. It looked like a routine play, but that pass is one of the toughest in the NFL, and Chris Collinsworth made note of it.
The very next play, Seattle ran the 'Golden Tate' nine-route with Kearse, Kearse beat his man, and Wilson put the ball on a rope in the exact perfect spot. And, Kearse dropped it. Would've been an easy touchdown. Two plays later, Robert Turbin caught a high pass from Wilson for a first down on a leak route up the sideline. Was a high-velocity, inaccurate pass and Turbin held on this time.
A few plays later, Kearse was let off the hook, because Russell Wilson threw a perfectly timed and placed fade pass to Doug Baldwin in the back of the endzone, which Baldwin reeled in magnificently. Wilson's touch on those fade throws has improved exponentially since Week 1 (remember the Arizona final drive?).
- The Seahawks were, at this point, up 35-6, and I remember Jason Puckett tweeting something along the lines of "the only thing missing is a pick six!". Well, on the following 49er drive, Jeremy Lane jumped a Randy Moss route and had about 45 yards of green in front of him for paydirt...., had he caught the ball. Instead of an easy pick six though, the ball bounced into Moss' hands when Lane couldn't corral it. That play would have been bananas. Too bad.
Nonetheless, on that same drive, Richard Sherman picked off Colin Kaepernick in the back of the endzone on just a putrid decision to throw the football - Brett Favre-esque, across his body, into traffic, against the grain of the play.
- I was struck, several times while watching this game, with how quick Marshawn Lynch looks these days, in his cuts upfield. Perhaps the light workload the last few weeks in blowouts has given him a second wind late in the year. He showed some nice burst in runs, even late in the game, and made defenders just straight up miss him.
On the Seahawks' final scoring drive, Doug Baldwin was WIDE OPEN in the back of the endzone, and Russell threw it up to him, but Golden Tate, coming back across the field as Wilson moved out of the pocket and out of the play's design, essentially picked the pass to Baldwin off (which was dropped). Baldwin sort of stood there with a 'basket-catch' hand-position for a few seconds in disbelief (the play was flagged for holding on San Francisco, which gave the Seahawks a new set of downs).
One of the things that happens when RW gets out of the pocket and moves is that players can get bunched up. I don't mind the effort by Tate, but he robbed Baldwin of a score on that play.
No harm though, as Baldwin caught his 2nd touchdown of the day a few plays later. This play, in particular, was seriously impressive, as Baldwin somehow managed to cup the ball between his hands and chest and gather control of it before he went out of bounds. You know the basketball trick we all used to do in high school where you make the ball go around and around with your arms and into your chest, in a circle? That's essentially what Baldwin did with the football whilst running full-speed, under duress. Super impressive.
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