Seattle had a good day on 3rd downs, going 8 of 14 (57 percent) on the official game sheet, but 9 of 15 (60 percent) when you include the Roughing the Passer penalty that netted them a first down. The median down and distance was 6 yards, and you can examine each situation below in the chart:
The Seahawks faced six 3rd Down and 2's or less, and converted all six of them via runs from Marshawn Lynch or Robert Turbin. That's good work against a good defense.
The Seahawks faced only two 3rd downs of 11+, and those were for an absurd 17 and 30 yards, but two out of 15 at that distance is also very good work. Penalties contributed to the really long down and distances, but one also stole a 3rd and 1 conversion (illegal motion by Ricardo Lockette) and made it 3rd and 6, which the Seahawks failed to convert, and were forced to punt. Another drive stalled on a 3rd and 10, which was 3rd and 5 before a false start on James Carpenter. Penalties stall drives.
Here are the two most interesting 3rd down conversions of the day:
3-6-SEA 46 (5:43 1st Q) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to D.Baldwin to SF 44 for 10 yards (D.Johnson).
The Seahawks get into "11" personnel (3WR, 1RB, 1TE) and do a few little things to get Doug Baldwin a bit of space.
They send TE Tony Moeaki up the seam, and that freezes the inside linebacker for a split second. They also send Lynch out into the right flat, and that freezes the cornerback who has zone responsibilities to that area. These two small details allow Baldwin to sit down near to the line-to-gain, and get 10 yards.
The protection is good and Wilson has the ball out in about 2.5 seconds.
3-10-SF 24 (4:25 3rd Q) (Shotgun) R.Wilson pass short right to P.Richardson to SF 13 for 11 yards (P.Cox).
This may have been one of the biggest plays in the entire game. As Pete Carroll said this week "3rd and 10 doesn't look too hard when you rip curl routes" or something to that effect. The Seahawks are well into field goal range, but are trailing 7-3. A 10-7 Seahawks lead seems like worlds apart from a 7-6 49ers lead, but on 3rd and 10, the odds of Seattle converting have to be sub 40 percent (if not lower).
The Seahawks chip both Lynch and Luke Willson to help out their tackles (Justin Britt and Alvin Bailey), and the 49ers rush only four. The lurking linebacker has to follow Lynch out into the flat and Aldon Smith wrecks any chance he will get to the quarterback by blowing up Luke Willson, but also blows up any chance Willson can truly get out into a route worth anything on this down and distance.
Essentially, Seattle is sending three receivers into six defenders. Paul Richardson does a great job of stopping at his proper depth and uses "late hands" to make the catch, which makes it hard on Perrish Cox (ha ha) to anticipate the ball being thrown Richardson's way.
Wilson could throw it right on Richardson, but perhaps plays it a bit safe by throwing behind, because he sees a second defender lurking. Ray McDonald goes inside on the rush, which allows J.R. Sweezy and Britt to clear a huge throwing lane for the play as well.
Just a good play for Seattle, on rhythm and the right placement and depth for Richardson and Wilson.