Lost in the jubilation that accompanied the merciless disassembly of the team-formerly-known-as-the-49ers is the flaming wreckage of a trio of plays. Three screens, all three dead on arrival. We've all complained at some point this year about the Defense being vulnerable to the screen. These plays tell a different story.
3-3-SF 37 (9:52 1st Quarter) (Shotgun) C. Kaepernick pass incomplete short left to F. Gore
This play is ALL KJ. He's been a mostly instinctual player these past 20 months, but in the last 4-6 weeks his game has evolved, and he's playing on a new level. He's reading things, trusting his keys and picking the right times to attack, the right times to pursue, and the right times to just slow down. You can see it clearly here as K.J. destroys this screen.
The nuance to notice here is the hesitation that carries the center beyond the point of attack. This let's KJ scrape under and kill the play. In the past I would say that sustaining this kind of play will send our boy to Hawaii, but that's not how the NFL works these days. Players in the Super Bowl don't go to Hawaii anymore.
3-9-SF 21 (13:18 2nd Quarter) (Shotgun) C. Kaepernick pass incomplete to D. Walker
This play is pure schadenfreude for me. We win this down and Kaepernick plays the fool. Clem reads the screen action perfectly and makes a high IQ play. Since Gore is a runner, and possible blocker, he doesn't gain any eligible receiver protections from illegal contact or holding until he crosses the line of scrimmage. Clem just grabs on and rides him like Zorro effectively ending the play. That would have been enough, but Kaepernick puts the cherry on top by putting on his rookie-pants when he tries to ad-lib something after a busted screen.
Alex Smith must have enjoyed kibitzing on that bit of coaching on the sidelines.
2-10-Sea 17 (11:07 2nd Quarter) (Shotgun) C. Kaepernick scrambles right 1 yard
I couldn't leave Red out of the fun. I don't know if he was fooled here and read run or recognized the action from film study. I'm going to give him the benefit of doubt here citing the fact that he didn't seem to make any attempt to wrap. It looks like he just read this play right and did his job to contain the edge. Sadly, with no receiver available Kaep avoids reprising his titular role in the Soon-to-be-released musical Rookieballs Schlomo Perez: A football tragedy and wisely kills the play. Of all three plays, this is my overwhelming favorite. I could watch the Red-Delicious-booty-bump-of-Justice that sends Gore to the ground all day.
This is why the Seahawks have waxed instead of waned every season of the PC era. This staff can actually coach, and they've built a roster that is coachable. In the first half of the season we saw screens eat up too many yards and sustain too many drives. Now the tale is different. Red said it best in his comments this week "It done been fixed."
This team isn't going to go away. They won't get outcoached, they won't get outplayed, and they're leaving a trail of broken teams in their wake as they move relentlessly towards the prettiest trophy in sports.