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Seahawks move into tie for 1st with win over 49ers: Post-game observations

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NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks picked up their first win of the season, defeating NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers by a score of 12-9. The win was sorely needed but wasn’t pretty, with the offense looking as inept as they did last week in Green Bay for the most part, albeit with the offensive line looking less disastrous. The win puts Seattle at 1-1, level with the Arizona Cardinals and L.A. Rams.

Two weeks into the season and there’s still a lot left to learn about this particular Seahawks team -- and they have a lot left to prove. Even still, the win against the 49ers had plenty of interesting things to note, so it’s time to get to the post-game observations:

Russell Wilson

We’ll start where it matters most, at the quarterback position. Wilson had a poor game throwing the football; when he wasn’t hesitant to pull the trigger and let the ball go, he was missing receivers badly. The weather obviously wasn’t helping the situation, but Wilson is lucky to not have thrown two or three interceptions against San Francisco.

All week long following Wilson’s post-game comments last week, there was talk from the fans and media that playing up-tempo could help to combat the offensive line woes. Although they did eventually do that against the 49ers, the main way Seattle went against San Francisco’s pass rush on Sunday was to move the pocket. Play action, bootlegs and quick rollouts were used often, with Wilson settling in almost at the edge of the tackle box on numerous occasions before setting his feet to throw. The results weren’t great on the stat sheet, but overall the pass protection was improved compared to last week.

Wilson looked as good as he has since 2015 running the football today on designed quarterback-keepers, read-option and scrambling. Wilson’s selling and execution on the read-option especially was as good as it has been in years. He ended the day with 34 yards rushing, but the threat of him running - evident once more - was just as impactful as the runs themselves.

Offensive Line

Speaking of improved pass protection, it was an OK game for the Seahawks’ line. There were two instances early on where Rees Odhiambo was bullied and put on his backside - physicality still being an issue for him - but overall they weren’t overly bad. A lot of it had to due with the Wilson’s mobility, but it’s absolutely progress in the right direction.

One move that should happen, however, is a major shift on the right side of the line. Mark Glowinski is far and away Seattle’s worst lineman, and he just so happens to line up next to a player playing in the wrong position. Germain Ifedi is a negative playing outside, and looks lost in space far too often over the course of games. Arik Armstead had a sack against the Seahawks today where he split Glowinski and Ifedi, with neither of them getting a hand on him. Moving Ifedi inside to guard - his best position - and bringing Ethan Pocic in to play right tackle could make a big improvement to Seattle’s line. Alternatively, Oday Aboushi could be another option to replace Glowinski inside.

Running back situation has become clear

By which I mean Chris Carson is clearly the best running back on the team right now. In his return from injury, Thomas Rawls looked hesitant in the backfield, ending the day with four yards on five carries. Carson, meanwhile, had 93 yards on 20 carries - and perhaps more importantly passed the ultimate test for a Seahawks ‘back, killing the game off with smart, physical running. After a penalty moved Seattle back 10 yards, Carson rattled off 41 yards on five carries to set up Seattle in victory formation. Carson is the most explosive running back on the team right now, and it doesn’t seem to be all that close.

While Carson has established himself as the workhorse for the Seahawks, C.J. Prosise did a good job with his opportunity. The two running backs essentially play different positions, and Prosise is too talented and dynamic to not get 10 touches a game. Although he ended the game with just three catches, he left two on the table, turning up field before securing the catch, and was on the field for most third-and-longs.

A crowded backfield has started to become much clearer after Sunday’s win.

The good and the bad at wide receiver

I wrote last week how great it was to see Tyler Lockett look as explosive and fluid as ever on the opening kickoff against Green Bay. That was pretty much all we saw from him in week one, but he was heavily involved against the 49ers. Lockett ended the day the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 64 yards, including several huge catches on third down. His ability to sit in a zone and immediately turn up field after catching the pass is rare, and it was huge for Seattle today.

Tanner McEvoy, on the other hand, was huge for the 49ers today. Two crucial drops - one in the endzone and one on third down - almost made the difference in the game’s result. A couple big catches in his career aside, I fail to see what he offers as a receiver that a more intriguing option - Amara Darboh, Kasen Williams or David Moore - can’t exceed. McEvoy’s special teams value is undeniable, but the value of a legitimate fourth receiving option is even greater. Two completely inexcusable drops today.

A strong game for the linebackers

It’s incredible that a group that includes Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright could be the third best group on a defense, but then again the Seahawks’ defense is even more than incredible. Regardless, Wagner, Wright and Michael Wilhoite had terrific games today. Wagner’s interception was as easy as they come, but it was a huge play nonetheless.

San Francisco was consistently looking to get George Kittle and Trent Taylor the ball in space underneath, but the three linebackers were giving them absolutely nothing after the catch. All three levels of the defense played good football against the 49ers, but the linebacker group was perhaps the most valuable.

Sheldon Richardson proves his worth

It wasn’t as noteworthy of a performance from Seattle’s defensive line as it was last week - just two sacks while allowing nearly 170 yards on the ground - but boy was it a great game for Richardson. He consistently provided pressure inside on passing downs, then was perhaps even more valuable when he was taken off the field as San Francisco chipped off runs of 61 and 27 with Nazair Jones and Jarran Reed inside. On a loaded defensive line that can roll seven or eight-players deep throughout a game, Richardson is already proving to be perhaps the best of the bunch.

Up-tempo and in rhythm

The Seahawks’ offense was shockingly out of sync through most of the game, with Wilson missing too many passes and the running game unable to get on a roll. But after going down 9-6, they started playing with more pace and got into a really nice rhythm in what was the game’s lone touchdown drive. Ten plays, 67 yards in four minutes and 30 seconds was all it took for Seattle to finally put a touchdown on the board in 2017, and they looked efficient while doing it. Wilson was unafraid to tuck the ball and run, posting carries of four, seven, five and 11 yards, while also taking what the defense was giving him and getting the ball out quickly. He made it clear following the loss to the Packers he wanted to play up-tempo more often, and he showed why on that drive.

Odds and Ends

  • Last week, Terence Garvin played 31 snaps as the Seahawks played in their base defense much more than they ever did last season. The official snap counts haven’t been made available at time of publishing, but I’ll bet Wilhoite played between 20-30 snaps against the 49ers. An interesting thing to note through two weeks, as the nickel defense becomes the new base throughout the NFL.
  • The Seattle Seahawks got out of week two with a win, and performances aside, 1-1 is where they should be through the first two weeks of their schedule. That being said, the play will need to be better next week when they head to Tennessee to face the Titans in a 1:05 PM PST kickoff if they want to improve to 2-1 and start to get on a roll.