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The Overmatched Colin Cole and the Undisciplined Red Bryant

The Crawl, the MASH unit following the team from city to city, are good distractions. Think long enough about the misfortunes of Seattle and the decisions of its fearless leader and you might forget the Seahawks were kicked around by the 49ers. There is no one player that undermined the Seahawks -- nix that, it was Colin Cole. And Red Bryant. So it was two. One overmatched. The other undisciplined.

  • San Francisco drove 60 yards on it opening drive. The mechanics of how have all the excitement and complexity of a bull pushing around a stag. Seattle was badly overmatched at the point of attack. It wasn't Craig Terrill. It wasn't only Cole, Red Bryant was bad too. But it was mostly Seattle's newest free agent journeyman turned starter. As much as I love and praise Brandon Mebane, a team's interior run defense should not fall apart minus one man.
  • Bryant showed an interesting mix of good physicality and poor gap discipline. On the fourth play of the drive following a encroachment penalty on Cory Redding, Bryant weathered a double team and got a body on Frank Gore. He was too deep for it to be a good play, but he held long enough to stop the first. San Francisco converted it on the next play. Cole tackled Gore after five yards. It was second and one.
  • Ken Lucas showed his versatility, first camping under an underthrown pass by Shaun Hill. Hill has no arm. That, along with a funky delivery, has made him a journeyman quarterback despite his quick read and good decision making. On the next play, Lucas caught Gore in the flat with an ankle tackle and brought him down after two.
  • That brought up a third and long play that Seattle should have had no trouble defending. Seattle went nickel and keyed on Vernon Davis. Davis was double covered, Curry on the defensive right and Wilson on the left, at least nominally, but neither Josh Wilson nor Aaron Curry actually covered Davis. Both were transfixed on Hill. Davis cut right and away from the two and it took Seattle's entire secondary and Redding to tackle Davis after 15.
  • That play was worse than it seemed. The 49ers were gouging Seattle's interior line. Bryant held against the Niners double teams, but dropped his gap, flowed too far offensive left and Gore cutback right for an easy six.
  • Bryant did it again on the next play. He attempted a spin that got caught halfway by Chilo Rachel. He was facing the wrong way when Gore blew past him.
  • Center Eric Heitmann had no problem single-blocking Cole out of the action on the next play, but a gaping hole and lead blocker was busted by pure talent. Curry hit right tackle Adam Snyder pulling through the hole and knocked him back and through Glenn Coffee for a loss of two. Coffee staggered sideways and Kerney finished the tackle.
  • Will Herring did his coverage thing. He broke on a short pass to Michael Robinson and was running him into the backfield before he could make a field move. It was Lofa Tatupu's zone, but Herring made a faster read and was faster to his man. Tatupu wasn't 80%. I doubt he was 50%.
  • Seattle put in its pass rush line: Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill, Redding and Kerney. Kerney edge rushed Snyder, swam to his outside shoulder, paused briefly as Snyder shaded to catch up, and then swam to his inside shoulder to clear and sack Hill. That sack was pure skill and savvy.

The drive resulted in three points, but the writing was on the wall. The Seahawks coaches were doing all they could to fortify the interior. They cycled Cole and Bryant and sometimes teamed the two, but Cole couldn't hold and Bryant didn't know how to consistently. Jimmy Raye makes no bones about attacking the interior. Seattle proved they couldn't stop him.