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49ers kindly let Russ cook them, especially on third down

Wilson regains some the MVP buzz he squandered in Arizona

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
subtext: anything you can do i can do better
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Straight to the tracker, which continues to track while the Seahawks leave everyone in their tracks.

Let Russ Cook Tracker, Week 8

Stat 2019 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade (cumulative)
Stat 2019 2020 goal 2020 to date Grade (cumulative)
Neutral downs passing 51-49 55-45 67-33 A
2nd & long rushing 61/166, 37% Below 25% 14-56, 25% B+
Designed RW runs 11-31-0 Use him earlier 10-131-1 A
4th & short past midfield 6/25, 26% Above 26% 4/10, 40% A

A single thought on each category, because honestly who has time for more?

1. Seahawks are committed to the bit.

In neutral pass-run ratios (which are calculated for 1st and 2nd down when no team has a greater than 85 percent chance of winning), the Seahawks continue to lead the whole NFL, a statement that becomes no less absurd every week I write it.

To give this chart context, the same data from 2018 and 2019 combined confirms everyone’s suspicions — wasn’t a whole lot of cookin goin on before this season.

“May you live in interesting times” — ancient Carrollian proverb

2. Second-down timidity set up third-down mastery

On nine occasions the Seahawks faced 2nd and 9 or more against the Niners. Not only does that fill a quota for the digit nine in this paragraph, but their excessive dedication to the run on second and long (four rushes) led to more third and long situations than you’d want (also four).

Plot twist, though: on third down, Seattle was excellent after the first two drives, when they somehow didn’t convert with 21 and 15 yards to go. I know, right? What’s wrong with the offense, jeez.

Haha. After the false start, both figurative and literal, Russ was cooking. Ended up 7-10-57-2-0 on third down after the first two failures. The Dallas rollout TD pass and the inspired, magical David Moore score both occurred on third and goal.

And didn’t you think “TOUCHDOWN” when the ball left Wilson’s hand in the clip below? It took one hell of a defensive play from Emmanuel Moseley to keep six off the board. Not even RW’s incompletions were real mistakes.

Because I can, I’d like to wedge in the successful third-down pass to fullback Nick Bellore; it didn’t matter in the course of the game, but Nick Bellore! Give the man his props, because how often is this going to happen?

3. Every day is leg day now for RW

Wilson rushed twice by design on Sunday, and if he could not take a shot to the head on half of those runs going forward, that would be optimal. Last year there were 11 clear-enough designed runs for Wilson all year and this year we’re at 10 already. Overall he’s been extraordinary on those plays, gaining 131 yards.

But fix your slide technique, Russ, or throw it away. Those are the only two options.

4. What did you think about the field goal attempt?

Probably my only disappointment as far as coaches’ offensive choices would be the 4th and 5 field goal decision on a day Wilson was as precise as we’ve seen him. And even then, it’s completely defensible.

I’m almost always in favor of going for it on 4th and 5 on the opponent’s side of the field, especially with a future Hall of Famer under center. But it’s hard to get too miffed with Pete Carroll, because it’s not like the Seahawks are sending Jason Myers out there every couple drives to kick threes. (Just ones.) He’s only attempted five field goals all year, on which he’s perfect. And you were up 20, so tacking on three more gets you tantalizingly close to a four-score game against a backup quarterback.

Kind of crazy how Seattle was even in the position to be playing add-on from a 20-point lead as the final quarter began, on a day the team was missing half its secondary and all its running backs. Well. When Russ is cooking and the defense is adequate or better, the Seahawks are near impossible to defeat.