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This Week In Defense: Seahawks lay the hammer on 49ers, Bobby Wagner leads way again

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Narrative Of The Game: Weeks like this one can be pretty hard to get a feel for, especially when you put it in the context of these two teams. Their path to getting here couldn’t be more different even though the win/loss column is identical. The San Fransisco 49ers wiped the floor with the Rams and then played tough for about thirty minutes against the Panthers.

On the other side of the coin the Seattle Seahawks barely survived Miami and then got strangled by the very same LA Rams the 49ers destroyed in Week 1. So what were we destined to see this week with new head coach Chip Kelly? Hell if I knew. I don’t think any of us had set in stone expectations. Let’s take a closer look at what happened.

[Second Quarter 13:54 3rd and 4. B. Gabbert pass intended for Jeremy Kerley. Defended by Bobby Wagner.]

This play isn’t very complex. It’s a zone and Wagner is just going to shuffle his feet seeming like he’s going to drop. He doesn’t actually give any ground though, he’s reading everything beautifully. When the ball is thrown, Bobby is in perfect position to break on the route and the ball for the breakup.

[Second Quarter 6:30 2nd and 8. B. Gabbert pass complete to Jeremy Kerley for 17-yards. Tackled by Deshawn Shead.]

This is a play I wanted to highlight because of how often these types of plays have hurt Seattle in the last three years. Specifically, deep passes to the left side. Now here, it’s just a simple deep comeback pattern and Kerley shakes Shead, who is defending deep position.

It’s the exact type of play that ended Cary Williams’ career in Seattle. The completion is going to happen, but in Shead’s case he contests it about as well as you can in the scheme he’s in: Cover-3. The problem some guys can face in deep coverage is that they pick up the ball far too late coming out and so they only react to the catch. On this play Shead is already moving for Kerley as the pass is coming in. This is a very different scenario than Cary Williams, who never seemed to pick up the concepts or have awareness of the ball in the air.

Here’s a closer look with replay:

[Second Quarter 5:16 2nd and 14. Toss sweep right by Carlos Hyde for -3 yards. Tackled by Bobby Wagner(Kam Chancellor.)

Bobby Wagner had a heck of a game for the Seahawks. He defended passes, runs, and had an interception. This play right here though, it’s my favorite because both he and Kam blow up Chip Kelly’s favorite running play concept: The toss sweep. Kam takes on the pulling guard and wins giving Bobby a nice lane to track down Carlos Hyde. Bobby has been on point these first three contests and this play just shows how smooth and easy he’s becoming as a veteran of this defense.

[Fourth Quarter 1:10 3rd and 5. Read option run by Carlos Hyde for a Touchdown.]

This play was the second time Seattle got hit lining up pre-snap inside the redzone. It’s just a read option fake by Gabbert and Seattle is still getting set at the line of scrimmage. It’s really annoying to give up two cheap touchdowns. This one was more upsetting to me because fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on Kris Richard.

You could tell by the players’ reactions and Richard’s naughty language on the sideline (I read lips) no one was pointing fingers, but no one was happy about the result. A team that prides itself on it’s defensive scoring titles, you know they’re gonna be a little bit pissed off about these plays. Will it help their focus for next week?

Game Wrap:

The end result here is a win. Besides two garbage time touchdowns Kelly’s offense did nothing for most of the contest. One interesting fact is that I counted five 3rd-and-4 down and distances and in all such plays they tried to pass. I also noticed that Ahtyba Rubin and Tony McDaniel were used sparingly. (Less than 20 snaps for both of them.) This could be because they don’t have as much lateral movement and Chip likes his east to west stretch plays. I think you’ll see more of them versus the Jets.

Game Ball:

Bobby Wagner. What a great performance for him. You name it, he did it. All except a sack. It was hard not to hand this to Michael Bennett last week, but Wagner made it impossible to ignore him this week. Enjoy this GIF of his Interception, which was a fortune of circumstance for Wagner more than anything else, but his awareness, anticipation, and reaction time made for the Seahawks first takeaway of the season. More games like this one and Wagner will be going to the Pro Bowl for the third straight year.

Needs work:

Nothing to gripe too much about other than the two TDs late and that’s just nit-picky.