If you slowly stirred your cappuccino with a huge stupid grin on your face, you're probably either a Seahawk fan or you just had a "great night" with a companion. Or both. I don't know but today we're going with the former only.
Anyways......what a game last night. It was everything we hoped for and everything we hoped wouldn't happen. What a roller coaster of both jubilant and bitter emotions. There was drama, amazing plays, questionable calls, heroics, and a crazy post-game interview.Yes, truly a fantastic, entertaining game.
Its easy to state that the NFL is clearly the best thing on Television. Forget Downton Abbey and Breaking Bad. All you need is a Seahawk vs. 49er game. Its a recent rivalry of unparalleled brutality, play-making, technicality, and narratives.
Here are some observations from the game.
1. Seattle's Interior Defense is damn good. Outside of Colin Kapernick's three quarter heroics, the Seattle D-line shut the 49ers run game down. Frank Gore had 11 carries for 14 yards and Kendall Hunter had 3 carries for 16 yards. You may have been waiting for Gore to take that inside handoff and go for a huge gain but it never materialized. Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, Tony McDaniel, and Clinton McDonald were unbelievable in their effort and gap responsibilities. If you want to teach high school and college DTs on how to take on a supremely talented offensive line (like the 49ers) then watch this game. You'll see it there. My hat is off to them.
2. For three quarters, the 49ers were "probably" the better team but in the fourth they finally gave in. Their defense is still incredible. I can't say enough about their line backing crew. Bowmen, Smith, Brooks, and Willis are the finest line backing unit I've seen in a long time. They really gave Russell Wilson fits all night. They are right up there with the Ravens and Steelers units of the 2000s. It truly takes a special running back to break them down......
3. And that back is Marshawn Lynch. He was held in check for a while but then he started getting four yard and five yard carries before finally breaking loose for that 40 yard TD run. There was another incredible run where he only gained two yards but after shedding three tacklers in the back field. I get how everybody loves LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles but to me Lynch is the second best running back in the NFL to Adrian Peterson. Yes, I do think Lynch is losing some of his top-line speed and he soon might be replaced by Christine Michael but there is no other running back I'd rather have than that guy right now. He is truly built for the post-season with his brutal but shifty running style which is just relentless.
4. The Seahawk Offense improved but is still questionable. Darrell Bevell "kind of" opened up the play book and Russell Wilson "kind of" did a better job. Wilson made some strides in the passing game by hitting his receivers on the quick passes and also getting those long passes when needed. He still overthrew a few passes and he still has that nasty habit of running further backwards instead of either just stepping into the pocket (when its not collapsing) or bolting forward for a run. That first and fourth quarter fumbling issues were also fairly awful. You can say him having less turnovers than Kapernick as a win but that fumble and those mishandled snaps and hand-offs could have been game changers. Still I think Wilson's confidence has improved and him with Baldwin and Percy Harvin against Denver could be lethal.
1. Richard Sherman post-game interview. Yes, Sherman should have shown class. But lets not detract from what we already know about him. He is competitive, passionate, cocky, intelligent, a showmen and someone who wants to be an NFL analyst in his retirement. So you heard what you heard. Why is anyone surprised? Nevermind, that he was in the heat of the moment. The Seahawks still had to kneel for three straight possessions before the interview. Sherman had time to evaluate what he might say. Taking the high road is never a bad thing whether or not you have history with your opponent.
2. Colin Kapernick's performance. Another collapse on his part. His team needed him and he failed to deliver. However, he delivered in the first two playoff road games and I applaud him for that. He also lost in the NFL's loudest venue versus the NFL's best defense. Not sure how much better he could have been other than making better decisions. I think he was fantastic for three quarters and he showed some incredible athletic skill that will probably give the Seahawks issues in the immediate future. That TD pass to Boldin was insane and inhuman. I really like both Wilson and Kapernick and after watching both of them, I think they both have amazing strengths and obvious weaknesses. Wilson is a tentative pocket passer, Kapernick is a compulsive passer. Wilson goes through a hundred read-progressions and still doesn't pull the trigger; Kapernick goes through one progression and launches. Wilson throws a beautiful deep ball; Kapernick throws with incredible velocity that cannot be taught. Wilson is a fantastic scrambler; Kapernick is an amazing open-field runner. Wilson is confident; Kapernick is defiant. This really could go on all day but I think these two quarterbacks are great for the NFL and their development in this upcoming season will be key for both teams.
3. The refs being awful. Questionable calls for both sides but mainly against the 49ers. I don't think it decided the final outcome of the game but I do think it killed momentum for both teams. Really needs to be cleaned up. Too many issues. Not asking for perfection but I am asking for consistency.
4. Seattle's Offensive Line. Three false start penalties? Letting your quarterback get destroyed every other play? I don't understand but maybe its injuries, confidence, and 49ers defensive game plan. However, I think Alvin Bailey as that sixth lineman was a breath of fresh air and the Seahawks finest move. It really opened up the run game. The offensive line really had a poor but not terrible day. They'll need to step up their game versus a solid Bronco defense.