We ended part one of my 2011 Seahawks' season re-view with the first half of the Week 1 matchup at San Francisco. The 49ers are in control after a touchdown to make it 16-0 going into the 2nd half. Now they get the ball. If San Francisco can come out strong and add to their lead, the 'Hawks will be in a huge hole.
But, Seattle comes out fired up and forces the three and out. Earl Thomas was a factor on all three plays - he blitzed from the edge a lot in this game. So, Seattle ball at the 44 and a chance to get it going.
The ball gets snapped, here. Yes, every skill player except Lynch is moving. Luckily, Justin Smith was offside and this play offset. Yeeeeesh.
On replayed 1st down Jackson throws deep and incomplete down the seam, presumably to back the defense off - a major display of arm strength - and then makes a nice, sideline throw to Doug Baldwin on 3rd and 10. Then, they gain 25 yards on the next two plays using an unbalanced line on both.
I like a few things about this upcoming sequence, other than the staying ahead of the sticks aspect. First, we see the unbalanced line is a primary factor in the gameplan. Also, we saw Darrell Bevell run the same running play back to back early in the game and then he ran back to back screens - on a 3rd down and then the 1st down of the next series - at the end of the first half. The Seahawks make a nice adjustment out of halftime to make this type of sequence work.
The first play looks like this. Seattle is in '12' (the majority of the drive was run from '12'), Anthony McCoy is outside right guard, while Breno Giacomini has moved outside left tackle.
The ball is snapped and the left side of the line (in the circle) moves right. Right guard John Moffit is pulling left.
Moffitt has hit a wall, literally, as he pulls.
Lynch runs into a wall too. There are a lot of free 49ers to make the play. But as you can see, Lynch has a contingency plan.
Moffitt misses Bowman, who pursues Lynch; no problem. Beastmode bounces outside starting with the stiff arm and makes his way into the open field. Admittedly, this play wasn't made because of the execution; it was made by the individual effort. But, what I want to highlight here is how this call sets up the next one.
Same formation, just flipped. Note how Zach Miller is behind Giacomini again, but also how Okung plays right tackle when he moves right.
Off the snap, the outside linebacker (Parys Haralson) sees Carpenter start to pull and Jackson going for the handoff. This sucks Haralson in, and draws his attention off Obomanu, currently starting his mission towards the ball.
A lot going on here. First, notice Max Unger (left most Seahawk) is making his way to the second level, after helping McCoy with Justin Smith. Inside the circle Moffitt is getting help from Okung. Carpenter is pulling into a huge hole off of the right side and Lynch could easily follow or maybe even bust outside Zach Miller, currently trying to seal the edge. My guess is this is the type of hole they hoped would open with Moffitt on the play before. Oh yeah, there's Obomanu...
Haralson is maybe in position to make the play, but it would be a good one at that. Okung (arrowed) has moved away from helping Moffitt and is now targeting Willis, who has recognized and is reacting.
Okung misses Willis. Haralson is in the backfield, but now chasing Obomanu. Now it's time to turn our attention to the men out in front; Jackson and Unger. Also, lets switch perspectives.
Ah, better. If these two blocks are made, Obomanu is potentially in the endzone.
Unger, no. Jackson, yes.
(Wacky waving inflatable arm tube man, the real thing.) This was a much more impressive block than the one Smith threw on Trufant earlier in the game; like, not even in the same league.
The reverse gets Seattle down to the 19 yard line. Going back to part 1; was the fake end around motion in the end zone part of the plan to set this up?
Now it's first down; a 5-step drop, play action, quick throw to BMW sets up 2nd and 2; three plays later Golden Tate scores on a well designed play; Williams lines up in the slot of a 3 man, side by side set, then takes his defender into the endzone - as Obomanu works outside - clearing out that area for Tate to come in behind down the line, from the wing, into the empty space created by Williams for the touchdown.
This was simply a matter of executing. Solid red zone offense here.
We have a Jeron Johnson sighting on the kickoff with the tackle, then it's 49ers ball at the 23. My notes say that Red Bryant had a poor series (in on 1st and 2nd down, a run and pass) and Alan Branch was a positive factor for on this series. Three and out.
The Seahawks get the ball back at their own 15 and go three and out - on the third down play Justin Smith destroyed the Max Unger and James Carpenter double team. On the bright side, John Ryan punts a 77 yarder from his own 23. Yes, that's a touchback, at 7:19 in the third quarter.
Another three and out, in large part due to this Pro-Bowl caliber team effort by ET and Browner on a 2nd down quick screen.
Thomas is well off in his coverage on Josh Morgan and Browner's butt towards the sideline signals he's likely in zone. The line from Smith to Morgan signifies that he notices Thomas' positioning and it's an opportunity for a standup and throw situation; perhaps a silent audible. Separate thought; is Thomas baiting the play?
Curry looks to be in position to make a first attempt on the ball. But, you already know he's not going to. This a not-Pro-Bowl caliber play.
Browner throws Edwards off and Thomas comes light-speeding in; all blurry and stuff.
Thomas goes low, Browner engages and drives high. Curry doesn't really do anything, except get really fired up afterwards. The 49ers punt.
Leon Washington has a good 13 yard return, but a penalty puts Seattle inside their 20. Unfortunately, this negates what was really a great 73 yard return to the SF 15.
The 49ers cover and pursue this play really well. It's a great effort by Washington. Here's what could have been, oh well.
Browner (arrow, then circle) and Bigby (box) setting up their blocks.
Browner hits on the side, his man stays up. Bigby pushes his guy down from behind. Check out the Brownersarus stance - I think he and Wright are similarly unique in their body types - and look at Leon's balance. Now, enjoy the missed tackle, one cut and go (and ignore the possible other block in the back).
He has a convoy. And there is a flag. Insert expletive here.
Seattle gets 15 yards via a 1st down personal foul, and then run back to back unbalanced line runs - what looks to be the same play - for 7 and -2. Seattle converts 3rd and mid on their 35 and then 3rd and short on the SF 45. Seattle sprinkles in another 1st down unbalanced line look. Another first down via a 49ers personal foul later - an over the middle hit on Anthony McCoy, which also happened to be a display of great arm strength by Jackson - and the ball is on the 15, where the Seahawks go unbalanced again.
Unfortunately, Giacomini didn't report eligible, turning a 2nd and 4 at the 11 into 1st and 15 at the 22. The drive stalls after good 1st and 2nd down defense, followed up by a fumbled snap by Jackson on 3rd and 13. At what was a time to step up and potentially make a big time throw into the endzone, the center/quarterback exchange bug bites at a very crucial time. Seattle mixed a lot here, but no two back sets - Miller didn't look fully comfortable at fullback, in my opinion. 11 plays in 4:52, but only three points. 16-10 49ers, 14:55 to go in the game.
On the next drive it takes the 49ers five plays to go from their 27 to the Seattle 28; 38 of those 45 yards came by picking on Marcus Trufant. He was boxed out by Edwards on a third down quick throw and beaten by Josh Morgan after a clean release on a sideline streak that gets completed underneath the safety.
Turfant gets his hands on Morgan...
which does nothing, as Morgan easily accelerates up the sideline...
....and Trufant never has a chance on a high ball, placed where only Morgan can catch it. Chancellor has a chance for a big hit here, but actually holds up a bit. Not the best game for Trufant.
Though a variety of Seahawks (Thomas, Branch, Clemons, Wright, Chancellor) all make some positive plays, the 49ers still made their way inside the 10. Again the Seahawks defense steps up to hold the 49ers to a field goal try, but only after calling a timeout to catch 12 men on the field.
Then, Browner gets flagged for roughing the kicker, a play that was simply a great acting job by David Akers.
Now 1st and goal at the 1.
The big arrow is on Matt Mccoy. And yup, I'm checking out Clinton Mcdonald's derriere (little arrow). Listed at 6'2, 297, dude's powerful in the lower body and can create leverage. Low man often wins.
BOOM! He gets low and takes out FOUR GUYS. Kelly Jennings never did that. This opens the window for McCoy...Where'd he go?
Jack in the box!
Some athleticism in the front seven.
C-Mac talks some smack...Clemons is fired up too. He had a solid game overall.
McCoy knifes through the line to make a tackle for loss on 2nd down as well. You have to wonder if the front office will try to retain him, as he began to carve himself a niche in the goal line and nickel packages early in the year. He's also a core special teamer. Plays like these won't hurt his case for a spot over a David Vobora or player X. Hopefully he can fully recover from his knee injury.
"BBK" and Wright clean up on third down. 49ers went 15 plays in 9:01, but only 3 points. Big stop for Seattle
Down 19-10 with 5:54 to go, the Seahawks go 80 yards in 1:58; gaining 25 yards in five plays before Doug Baldwin's 55 yard catch and run on a slant - a patient, well timed throw by Jackson - that served as the only explosive play of the day. They lined up in '11' for five of six plays on that drive. (Baldwin 2011 highlights here, 55 yard touchdown is at :30 second mark)
I propose an offseason of these two battling; so Browner can refine his skills against the shifty, acceleraty separation creator.
Then it happened.
Leon (arrow) started down the middle but has has moved right across the other hash. Bigby (left Seahawk in in box) started on the players-right has and is now on the left hash. The backside players are getting sucked in. Ginn cuts and is gone with his rocket speed out the backside for a 102 yard kickoff return. The fact that ET hung with Ginn chasing him down the field was really impressive. Hauschka may have accidentally cut off the initial angle, too.
Seahawks ball back and they go three and out, with another 3rd down sack. Jackson threw three incompletes and the offensive line did not look comfortable; no one looked comfortable.
Then the meltdown went into full effect as the Seahawks allowed a 55 yard punt return (start at :18) touchdown; Richard Sherman got blocked in the back and a handful of players dove off-target as Ginn wound his way through the team. Dexter Davis looked very off pursuing on special teams in this game (the first diving missed tackle on the 55 yard return), and I wasn't surprised to learn he was injured (put on IR for his hip after this game). At times in this one, the coverage unit missed guys like Herring, Babineaux and Milloy.
The Seahawks had lost special teams co-captain Michael Robinson early in the game and promising rookie Byron Maxwell on the 2nd half kickoff. Ted Ginn had a strong game up to that point and he was only getting started, for what would be one of the best special teams units in the NFL this season. I was concerned about Seattle's special teams heading into the year. This performance was no help.
Seattle got the ball back with 2:39 to go. They get 10 yards and 15 more via penalty to get the ball to the SEA 49. Seattle needed four downs to get a first down across midfield. Though, they were able to get to the line and snap pretty quickly in the two minute drill, managing to limit run off to around 12-15 seconds from player being downed to the ball being snapped.
Now we're just outside of a minute, at the SF 38. One thing I noticed at times during the game was Jackson had trouble navigating the pocket, not always being decisive or knowing where to go (lacking pocket presence/awareness).
Seattle in Shotgun '11,' the 49ers will drop seven.
Here is Jackson at the top of his drop. He's looking left towards his three options to that side.
Jackson has stepped up, but the throw isn't there, yet. The defender is on Miller underneath and Obomanu is covered by the corner up top. Notice Golden Tate; soon he'll be open, but Jackson needs to get him the ball. The pocket needs to hold up, too.
Uh oh, the pocket is collapsing. The three lines are possible lanes for Jackson to slide and find space. Tate is about to break and the throw will be there. It's up to Jackson to find a way to get this ball off. Notice that Jackson is inside the 45 yard line here.
Jackson has dropped backwards. Yes, he evaded Okung and his man, but he actually helped out Giacomini's man. Jackson had room to move right, right and forward, or even run. At the least, as long as Jackson steps into this pass and remains on the current spot, he should be OK.
Instead he continues to step backwards, and his throwing base is almost non existent. Jackson is now another 1/2 yard or so behind where he was in the last shot, and being closed down upon; he has backed up about 2-3 yards from his initial spot and doesn't seem to account for the second effort rush. Plus, Tate has been open long enough that at this point he may not be as open as he initially was.
Jackson needed to deliver a strike, which would have been a very impressive throw given his positioning in this frame. I don't know where the coaches prefer he move on this play, but my guess is retreating backwards and creating this result was not part of the plan. Unfortunately, Jackson gets stripped by Haralson. 49ers ball, two kneel downs, game over.
The players tunnel was pretty close to my seat. When Seattle went in at half they didn't look mentally down. The first 26 minutes of that second half felt somewhat methodical and they looked confident and capable enough while doing it. But, Jim Harbaugh had his team ready, and a "touchdown" maker stepped up and made a play. Actually, two of them. It was an early reminder of how young this Seahawks team was, and even though the 49ers had a new coaching staff their roster is chock full of experience and talent. They defended the home turf.
The Seahawks didn't start the season as a healthy unit and were missing some key pieces, yet they hung with the eventual NFC no. 2 seed for 56 minutes and came within sight of a 2nd half, 16-point comeback on the road. This was a jam-packed and compelling game to start the year; a tough loss for both a young team and a coach that was 13-1 in season openers heading into this one.
Onto Week 2, coming soon.
Final stats (again, the gamebook has the information below and much more): More first downs, better on third down, way less red zone opportunities. Note net punting average, penalties and fumbles.