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49ers 26 Seahawks 23: Winners and Losers from a horrible defeat in Santa Clara

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Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

That sucked.

Not just the officiating — I guess I spoiled part of the article, did I? — but the execution on offense, defense, and special teams was way too inconsistent. Even with the penalties, the Seattle Seahawks did not substantially outplay the San Francisco 49ers. This was one of the worst losses in the Russell Wilson/Pete Carroll era. Luckily for them they’re still in good playoff positioning even if they did the unthinkable and fell to 8-8.

Let’s go to Winners and Losers and then move onto next week.

Winners

Chris Carson

Carson isn’t Marshawn Lynch, but he’s carving out a legacy in his own way. 22 carries for 119 yards and a herculean effort to somehow score from a yard out on 4th and goal when he was stuffed multiple times. “Rushing doesn’t matter” blah blah... what I firmly believe is that running back talent matters. No one else on Seattle’s running back depth chart scores there. He is a gem.

Doug Baldwin

A classic Dougie stat-line. Four catches for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns. We can only hope that he can stay healthy, because he’s still such a key part of the Seahawks offense with his route-running, sure hands, and longtime outstanding chemistry with Russell Wilson.

Poona Ford

That was the Poona Party. Three tackles for a loss! THREE! He had six tackles overall as the UDFA rookie showed off his dominance in the run game. We’ve moaned about him being a healthy scratch in some games, but when he has played he’s mostly shined.

Jarran Reed

What a freak he’s become as a pass-rusher. Much like Ford, he was crashing the 49ers interior but his best work was when he got after Nick Mullens. Two more sacks brings him up to 8.5 on the year, and he should be getting more national recognition.

Tre Flowers

Flowers was scarcely thrown at, and he had a key pass break-up to deny the 49ers a potential touchdown to end the 1st half, as well as a fumble recovery in the opening quarter. He’s really been one of the better stories of the year for Seattle.

Michael Dickson

If you pin the opposition at the 1 and 2-yard line with your first two kicks, you’re really damn good at your job. Dickson might be the only reason the Seahawks aren’t in the bottom-half in special teams DVOA. Again.

Losers

Ethan Pocic

If Jordan Simmons was one last gift from Tom Cable, then Pocic was Cable’s last middle finger to the Seahawks offensive line. The 2017 second-round pick replaced Simmons due to injury and gave up a pressure and committed two crucial holding penalties (both more than justified), including the one on the deep ball to JD McKissic in overtime. I had high hopes for Pocic as a rookie, but we’ve found out why he’s been a healthy scratch beyond just “not fitting into Mike Solari’s system.” You won’t fit into any system playing like that.

JR Sweezy

Sweezy wasn’t that much better than Pocic. Not only did he have multiple holds, but a screen pass to Mike Davis could’ve gained many more yards if not for him blowing his block in the open field. Tough afternoon at the guard position for the Seahawks, as Simmons also gave up sack prior to his injury.

Austin Calitro and Barkevious Mingo

These two are not very good for separate reasons. Calitro is “preseason fast” but not “regular season fast,” if that makes sense. He’s slow to react on passing plays and had multiple blown coverages, including Nick Mullens misfiring on a likely TD in the 2nd quarter. Mingo is just an abysmal open field tackler and it showed again when he failed to wrap up a checkdown pass to Matt Breida.

Regardless of what happens to KJ Wright’s future with the team, linebacker must be a big priority for the Seahawks in 2019. The depth not only isn’t very good, it’s not been good since Malcolm Smith left. If Wright or Wagner go down, it’s a wave of Kevin Pierre-Louis, Brock Coyle, Terence Garvin, Michael Wilhoite, and now these two.

Tedric Thompson

It’s unfair to expect Tedric to be Earl Thomas, or even a very good safety given where he was picked. He does not look like an NFL starter.

I should forgive him for slipping on that shit heap of a field on the Garrett Celek touchdown, but he also got stiff-armed into the ground by Dante Pettis on a 15-yard catch, and is just late to make a play far too often. He’s better than Steven Terrell, and that’s about all I’ve got for him.

Special Teams guys not named Michael Dickson

Missed extra point by Sebastian Janikowski, bad kick coverage leading to a 97-yard touchdown, multiple penalties on Seahawks runbacks, Tyler Lockett’s ridiculous decision to bring that kick out in overtime almost leading to a fumble and actually resulting in awful field position. Neiko Thorpe with a silly roughness penalty gifting the 49ers 15 yards. It was sloppy as hell. Brian Schneider’s group was arguably the worst unit of the three.

The two-minute offense

Seattle’s two-minute offense is either a checkdown to Mike Davis, a sack, a draw play with Mike Davis, or a penalty. It is abysmal. They are so terrified of making a mistake that they’re actually more conservative in these situations than at any other point in the game. I’m tired of seeing it.

The Levi’s Stadium groundscrew

Other teams have natural grass fields with rainy weather. Levi’s Stadium was basically a cow patch. It made FedEx Field look pristine. Both teams were slipping and sliding as chunks of turf were getting chewed up.

Pete “Abe Vigoda” Morelli and the other officials

I’ve had to put the refs in the Losers column far too often this season. The Seahawks racked up 14 penalties for 148 yards, a franchise record for yardage, and many of them took away potential scoring opportunities or gave the 49ers opportunities of their own. Shaquill Griffin and Delano Hill should be livid with these DPIs.

Griffin’s penalty was 2nd and 15 in OT. That basically ended the game. Hill’s penalty led to a field goal that made it 23-20... that occurred on 1st and 20. This is ticky-tack nonsense. Seattle certainly committed a lot of perfectly valid penalties that should have Pete Carroll seething, but these DPIs weren’t penalties whatsoever.

I do not think the refs were the #1 reason the Seahawks lost the game, but the biggest calls of the game pretty much all went against Seattle. Oh well, that’s the NFL for you. I’m sure a ton of bad calls will go the Seahawks’ way next week, in primetime, taking up debate on sports talk shows for entire episodes.

Final Notes

  • Pete Carroll’s decision to punt on 4th and 3 from the 49ers 39 does not sit well with me at all. The Seahawks were lucky they got a turnover on the next play because the Niners were on their way to a 99-yard touchdown drive. There’s trusting your defense and then there’s being overly conservative. His failure to call a timeout to preserve more time to possibly score at the end of the 1st half was also terrible, but that two-minute offense is garbage so it might have panned out poorly anyway.
  • Ken Norton Jr’s blitzes produced way too many open receivers. He dialed it down in the 2nd half and the 49ers offense was held in check for the most part, so that’s a credit to him after being overly aggressive in the opening quarter.
  • Delano Hill... wasn’t bad? Actually he was at least okay from what I saw, which is a relief given Bradley McDougald’s knee injury.
  • Russell Wilson wasn’t as good as that stat-line (23/31 for 237 yards, 2 TDs) showed, but he wasn’t terrible. I guess by Wilson standards, he was okay? Sadly his best throw was to JD McKissic, and Ethan Pocic wiped it all out. That fumble he had on 3rd and 1 to start the 3rd quarter was inexcusable considering how open Chris Carson (or was it Tre Madden?) was.
  • Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman might be the worst set of announcers on the FOX roster, and we’ve had Dick Stockton and Mark Schlereth multiple times this year. It’s like they’re not even watching the game, and the production team at times seemingly wasn’t watching either.
  • Brian Schottenheimer plays for third down. Seattle ran only 11 more offensive plays and wound up with 9 more third-down attempts. Sometimes it’s okay to throw it on 1st down. I’ll have more on Schottenheimer’s ridiculously lopsided — and likely Pete Carroll-mandated — opening drive scripts later this week.
  • I’ve theorized that the Seahawks often give up on 3rd and long because they fear longer developing plays will increase the likelihood of a sack, and the offense under both Bevell and Schotty do a poor job of scheming up YAC opportunities for pass-catchers. Only two of Russell WIlson’s 31 TDs this year have required receivers to get more than 10+ yards YAC, so forget about the other plays. It’s the way the offense is designed, and we’ll have to live with it.
  • This loss sucks. It’d take a horrendous collapse for them to miss the playoffs, but I do expect them to play better next week against the Chiefs. The problem is, “better” might not be enough against that juggernaut. Seattle always has one “signature” win against an elite team, so perhaps Kansas City will be that team, and that could shake up the entire AFC playoff picture.