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All-22 Musings: Eye-catching plays from the Seahawks’ victory over the 49ers

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Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Nearly five years since the last meaningful game between these two sides, the Seahawks and 49ers delivered a classic in prime-time, as Seattle went into San Francisco and handed them their first loss of the season. It took the Fightin’ Jadeveon Clowneys a mind-boggling three overtime possessions—and an ill-fated field goal attempt by the 49ers that is still hooking left to this day—to get the victory, but they got it nonetheless. The win puts the Seahawks in a great position for the division title, with San Francisco set to face a treacherous schedule down the stretch.

It was a glorious, throwback battle between two old rivals, and it delivered through five quarters of football.

[SF 2-9 SF 26] (14:19) T. Coleman right tackle to SF 25 for -1 yards (P. Ford)

It’s yet another instance of Poona Ford combining his relentless pursuit and elite balance to drop a running back behind the line of scrimmage. Ford will chase a back until the play is dead, but when he gets a step past the line, chances are he will make the tackle—he is just too compact to be knocked off balance.

[SF 1-10 SF 26] (:31) M. Breida right tackle to SF 26 for no gain (A. Woods)

Both Ford and Al Woods—not to mention Jarran Reed and Jadeveon Clowney, who do practically everything well—are perfectly suited for the NFC West. The 49ers and Rams’ running games are predicated on outside zone, and Ford and Woods’ ability to defend laterally helped massively against the Rams in Week 5, and helped again on Monday Night Football. Weston Richburg is pushed right into Matt Breida’s path by Woods, who blows up the play.

[SF 1-10 SF 27] (10:11) (No Huddle) J. Garoppolo pass incomplete short middle to E. Sanders

Though Jimmy Garoppolo skipped this pass to Emmanuel Sanders, it’s worth highlighting for how well Shaquill Griffin plays it: He quickly recognizes the route pattern developing, closes on Sanders to get on his hip, and is in a great position to break up the pass if it’s on target. It’s another example of Griffin’s increased athleticism from 2018 to ‘19 helping him close on a receiver.

[SF 1-10 SF 37] (8:44) M. Breida left end to SF 44 for 7 yards (Q. Diggs)

Watching Quandre Diggs’ performance on Monday night with the benefit of a proper angle, it’s easy to see why Pete Carroll came out of that game so excited about his new safety. Here, Diggs reads it quickly, takes a great angle and flies to the football to make the play, looking like a prototypical Seattle free safety while doing so.

[SF 2-7 SF 23] (2:57) (Shotgun) J. Garoppolo sacked at SF 14 for -9 yards (J. Reed). FUMBLES (J. Reed) [J. Reed], RECOVERED by SEA-J. Clowney at SF 10. J. Clowney for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN

Obviously, this was a huge play from Clowney, but just a tremendous inside move from Reed to create the sack. The relentlessness, and hands and feet in sync which we see here, was what made him have a breakout season as a pass rusher in 2018—having him return to that level down the stretch in ‘19 would alter the Seahawks’ defensive outlook.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 22] (14:56) C. Carson left end pushed ob at SEA 31 for 9 yards (D. Greenlaw; J. Ward)

First and foremost, a great read by Chris Carson to cut his run back inside and gain a few extra yards at the end of this run. But Duane Brown’s movement here is what’s most exciting: Every time Brown is asked to pull or move in space, he gets to his landmark and looks just fine. He’s arguably been the most disappointing player for Seattle in 2019, but if he can get healthy over the bye, perhaps there’s still hope for improvement.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 37] (13:22) R. Wilson pass short left to DK. Metcalf pushed ob at SF 49 for 14 yards (E. Moseley). Caught at SF 49. 0-yac

Week 10 was a quiet, weird and disappointing game for DK Metcalf, but even in his quiet performances, there are small moments of optimism. This was one of them: First, Metcalf sits down against zone coverage over the middle, then moves to keep in Russell Wilson’s line of sight, and breaks all the way to the sideline giving Wilson an option.

[SF 2-6 SEA 37] (10:56) (Shotgun) J. Garoppolo sacked at SEA 42 for -5 yards (sack split by P. Ford and J. Reed)

Ford and Reed share the sack here, but Clowney deserves the credit for forcing Garoppolo up by beating Joe Staley off the line with ease. Clowney has created opportunities like this for his teammates all season long, but aside from Quinton Jefferson in Week 1, we’ve rarely seen the defensive linemen around him capitalize.

[SF 1-10 SF 30] (7:07) M. Breida left tackle to SF 33 for 3 yards (B. McDougald)

Bradley McDougald has previously said he likes to play strong safety because it gives him more opportunities around the line of scrimmage. Due to poor free safety play, he’s been playing a fair bit of two-high. It’s no coincidence that Diggs’ debut coincides with the best McDougald performance of the year. Great backside pursuit from McDougald here, and expect similarly positive performances moving forward.

[SF 2-18 SF 32] (3:46) (Shotgun) J. Garoppolo sacked at SF 24 for -8 yards (J. Clowney). FUMBLES (J. Clowney) [J. Clowney], RECOVERED by SEA-P. Ford at SF 24. P. Ford to SF 24 for no gain (L. Tomlinson)

First, Clowney beat Staley around the corner like it was nothing to create a sack for his teammates. This time, he walks Mike McGlinchey right into Garoppolo’s lap for a strip-sack that was entirely dominant. Clowney has the capability to be a one-man wrecking crew.

[SF 2-2 SF 33] (:59) M. Breida right end to SF 34 for 1 yard (A. Woods; B. Wagner)

Once again, the defense is effective defending laterally—but look at 330-pound Al Woods come off the ball quickly, shedding Laken Tomlinson and make the tackle.

(An aside: Look at how casually Clowney hurdles over Tomlinson in pursuit. Just an absurd athlete.)

[SF 2-3 SEA 16] (7:09) (Shotgun) J. Garoppolo sacked at SEA 21 for -5 yards (A. Woods)

It’s yet another Clowney-created sack for the defensive line, as his swim move leaves McGlinchey lunging, and Garoppolo is forced to pull the ball back down as Woods arrives for the sack. Clowney is an equal opportunity destroyer, alternating between McGlinchey and Staley on Monday night.

[SEA 1-10 SEA 36] (4:36) R. Wilson pass short left to J. Hollister pushed ob at SEA 47 for 11 yards (E. Moseley)

Jacob Hollister saw four targets against the 49ers in this fashion—out in the flat, with room to turn up the sideline and gain yards after the catch. Hollister is considerably more fluid than Luke Willson (or Will Dissly, for that matter), and he is solid at creating yards after the catch. Brian Schottenheimer and the Seahawks have done well to adjust and incorporate him into the offense.

[SEA 3-6 SF 49] (3:12) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short left to J. Gordon to SF 36 for 13 yards (E. Moseley). Caught at SF 42. 6-yac

[SEA 3-3 SEA 32] (9:31) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass short right to J. Gordon to SEA 46 for 14 yards (R. Sherman)

We’re going back-to-back Josh Gordon completions, because they’re both a result of something similar—and having a second outside receiver who cornerbacks bail quick on for fear of getting beat over the top, and who can box out cornerbacks over the middle of the field, will be great.

The first completion is such an easy catch for Gordon because of his physical ability, and it’s similar on the second: He’s able to get inside leverage because defensive backs have to respect his ability to take the top off a defense. With Wilson’s ability to place a pass perfectly, it’s going to result in a lot of easy completions.

[SEA 3-16 SEA 40] (8:12) (Shotgun) R. Wilson pass deep right to M. Turner to SF 32 for 28 yards (J. Ward). Caught at SF 44. 12-yac

I wanted to use the endzone view on this catch for a couple reasons, mostly because the yards Malik Turner gains after the catch are well earned and wonderful to watch—but also because right before he goes out of frame, you can see him begin to break back towards the sideline with Wilson escaping. Turner gets limited snaps, but whether it’s running a rub route, finding space in the scramble drill, blocking, or maximizing his yards after the catch, he has a positive impact. It was awesome to see him have this moment in overtime.

[SF 2-2 SEA 30] (4:10) R. Mostert left guard to SEA 30 for no gain (J. Clowney)

Most of Clowney’s appearances in this space this season have been outstanding plays against the run. He took control in both phases in Week 10, but it was a massive play against the run here, blowing up San Francisco's 2nd and 2 run—he would do the same on the subsequent third down, before a field goal attempt that went... wide.

[SF 3-10 SF 20] (1:42) (Shotgun) J. Garoppolo pass incomplete deep right to D. Samuel (Sq. Griffin)

Just a tremendous play by Shaquill Griffin in a huge spot. The hand fighting, staying step-for-step—while checking his shoulder to track the ball—is all phenomenal; then the play on the ball is the pièce de résistance.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

[SEA 3-3 SEA 43] (1:16) (Shotgun) R. Wilson scrambles right tackle to SF 39 for 18 yards (J. Ward)

Naturally, the MVP saves his MVP moment for the biggest moment. It flew under the radar, but it’s a fantastic bit of situational awareness from Wilson on this run. In most cases, we would see Wilson slide when Jimmie Ward first squares him up; instead, Wilson veers inside and gains a few extra crucial yards before hitting the deck.

After back-to-back overtime victories, the Seahawks will have their welcome bye week, before returning to take on the Eagles in Philadelphia; a matchup that has delivered a few classic games in recent years.