The Seattle Seahawks avoided the potential disaster of an 0-2 start heading into an away game against the Tennessee Titans, who figure to be the clear favorites to win the AFC South. More importantly, they didn’t suffer the embarrassment of losing to a San Francisco 49ers team yet to score a touchdown. Seattle won last season’s home opener 12-10 against Miami, they prevailed 12-9 this season over the Niners.
As was the case at the start of 2016, the defense was doing all it could to keep the point total low. The offense? Ehhhhhhhh it could be better. A lot better. It has to be, or else we’re just going to get an identical end-of-season outcome. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s uneven but successful performance.
4th quarter Russell Wilson
The first touchdown of the 2017 Seahawks campaign was almost entirely because of Russell Wilson, particularly through his legs. Wilson rushed for 27 yards on Seattle’s penultimate drive, and then worked his magic under pressure to deliver the game-winning strike to Paul Richardson (whose sideline work to get both feet in-bounds shouldn’t be overlooked). This is the 23rd game-winning drive of Russell’s career, and his 18th 4th quarter comeback.
It was awesome to see Lockett heavily involved in the offense. He led the way with 6 catches for 64 yards, and four of them moved the sticks. I really can’t stress enough what an asset Lockett can be in the passing game, as evidenced by his contributions in the second-half of 2015 and in December 2016 before the broken leg. Lockett looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.
I’m willing to give Thomas Rawls more time to get himself back into the swing of things, but until I see something different, Chris Carson is the best running back on the Seahawks roster. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry on 26 rushing attempts, and when it was time to put the game to bed, Carson got the job done brilliantly. Lest we forget that he had a nice 14-yard scamper on the game-winning drive. I’m sold on Carson and you should be, too.
With Jimmy Graham banged up and rendered ineffective, Willson wound up with 3 catches for 25 yards. I’m mostly putting him on here because of this hurdle, on a Sunday filled with hurdling plays.
That would be the linebacker trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Michael Wilhoite. Wagner picked off Brian Hoyer on San Francisco’s second possession and was otherwise his usual dominant self. Wright was also in top form both in run support and in pass coverage, and his 3rd and 9 tackle of TE Garrett Celek proved to be the last time the 49ers would touch the ball on offense. Wilhoite, filling in for the injured Terence Garvin, didn’t do anything particularly flashy, but he did stop Carlos Hyde for a minimal gain on a screen pass. I believe they were the best unit on the field on either side of the ball for Seattle. The secondary obviously did its job in holding Brian Hoyer to under 100 yards, but Wagner and Wright really stood out to me, with Wilhoite performing well as a role player.
Field Gulls readers
Because you’re getting an Enemy Reaction on Tuesday.
1st-3rd quarter Russell Wilson
It is perfectly valid to acknowledge that Wilson’s stats took a hit because of the numerous drops, and that he was really off his game even with his teammates making mistakes. The bad breaks of dropped touchdowns and third-down conversions shouldn’t completely overshadow the fact that he got away with at least two interceptions, including one thrown right to Rashard Robinson, only for another 49ers player to inadvertently tip it away from him. He was sailing passes badly, as I suspect is a habit of his in rainy games, and one of the three sacks he took was him reverting to his “spin and run out of the pocket” move instead of stepping up in what was a decent pocket. The 4th quarter is what you love about Wilson, but the performance preceding it was not good.
The rainy games that stick out to me in recent years are 2013 vs. Arizona (11/27 and less than 100 net yards passing), the playoff rematch vs. New Orleans (9/18 for 103 yards), 2014 vs. Oakland (17/35 for under 200 yards), 2014 vs. NY Giants (10/17 with 2 INTs), and 2015 vs. St. Louis (committed two turnovers). It doesn’t look like it’ll rain in Nashville this Sunday.
The film guys may prove me wrong on this, but surely Mark Glowinski was by far Seattle’s worst offensive lineman on Sunday. He was getting destroyed by Arik Armstead, and in fact the touchdown was “created” by him getting so badly beaten that Wilson did just enough to avoid the sack and have Armstead run into his own teammate (who got past Rees Odhiambo). I don’t know if Oday Aboushi is worse than him, but he has to be worth a shot at this point.
After shutting down Green Bay’s running backs, Seattle’s run defense struggled against Carlos Hyde (whom I’ve always been a fan of). Hyde rushed for 124 yards on 15 carries, and while most of it came on runs of 61 and 27 yards, rookie Matt Breida racked up 35 yards on just 4 carries. This really needs to be cleaned up against the Titans, who have a much better offensive line than the 49ers, and a good RB tandem of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry.
The reason why C.J. Prosise isn’t a loser despite his two drops is that he was actually productive (3 catches for 22 yards), whereas McEvoy’s only two targets were both failures. One would’ve been a touchdown, and the other would’ve been a third-down conversion into field goal range. He’s essentially the #4 receiver on this team, and if he doesn’t watch out, Amara Darboh will quickly move ahead of him on the depth chart.
As great as Seattle’s special teams play was in week 1, it was just about the opposite in week 2. Tyler Lockett had 0 yards out of 3 punt returns, and neither of his kick returns didn’t advance beyond the 25. Justin Coleman and Shaquill Griffin committed penalties on separate punts to further pin the offense towards its own end zone. Trent Taylor and Victor Bolden each had successful returns for the 49ers. Blair Walsh missed an extra point, which thankfully didn’t prove to be as costly as it could’ve been. Last but not least, Neiko Thorpe will be out several weeks with a sprained ankle, and that’s a big loss for this unit.
Eddie Lacy (Post-Publish edit)
I know Pete Carroll said that Lacy is still part of the team’s plans, but he was a healthy scratch yesterday, and while I’ve been more patient than others with regards to Lacy, it’s increasingly hard to see where he fits in Seattle’s RB rotation.
49ers fans who have to sit through (presumably) fourteen more games of Brian Hoyer
I guess it is possible to downgrade from Blaine Gabbert.