Wow. That's all I have to say.
The Seahawks' offense, infused and powered by some youthful energy on Sunday, dominated the 49ers 29-13, racking up 508 yards of offense with balance and explosiveness. They threw for 250-plus and rushed for 250-plus yards. Some will chalk it up to a bad opponent, some will chalk it up to pure luck, and some will actually give the players the credit.
In what seemed like a transitional day for the offense, all four of Seattle's touchdowns came from rookie players.
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On the first drive of the game, and after several powerful runs by Thomas Rawls, Russell Wilson stepped up decisively in the pocket to deliver a dime to Tyler Lockett for a 24 yard touchdown. Lockett, while celebrating the touchdown in an NFL-appropriate manner, threw up the "L" in homage to Ricardo Lockette, showing the world just how much he loves his brothers. Later in the game, Russell would connect with Lockett again for his 2nd touchdown off a slant in the red zone. In the process, Lockett had to throw off two much larger San Francisco defenders in order to score.
There were concerns about Lockett coming out of the draft - that his frame was too small, that he wasn't strong enough, and that he needed to be bigger. Lockett tossed those concerns aside like he tossed Kenneth Acker and Jacquiski Tartt to the ground. Lockett has proven to be a fast and deadly route runner, able make the key third down conversions, and in this case, able to bulldoze through players,. Lockett is only ten games in to his short career, but looks like the future for the Seahawks' receiving corps. Despite being the smallest player on the team (weighing just 182 pounds), he's caught 25 passes (4th among rookie receivers) for 308 yards (4th among rookies) and three touchdowns (2nd among rookies). He's added two return touchdowns this year as well and leads all rookie receivers with five total scores.
Arguably one of the biggest blunders in the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era was letting Golden Tate go in free agency, in favor of a soon-to-be-gone Percy Harvin. They're making amends with the Lockett pick and won't likely make the same mistake once his contract comes due.
"You see Tyler Lockett and the things that he can do; he's so quick, so fast," said Russell Wilson after the game. "On the first drive of the game, he makes an incredible touchdown catch there. He's a player who can do it all for us."
On the season, Russell Wilson is 25-of-33 (75.7%), for 308 yards (9.3 YPA), with three touchdowns and 1 interception when targeting Tyler Lockett. That's a 121.8 passer rating.
Despite Tyler's big day, he wasn't the only one who shined. Enter Thomas Rawls.
Don't get me wrong: I love Marshawn Lynch. He has been the face of an epic era in Seahawks history and has carried this team on his back too many times to count. He's also one of my favorite Seahawks of all time, and although unlikely, I would love to see the Seahawks bring Marshawn back as a running backs coach once his time as a player concludes. However, it's not hard to see that Lynch is slowing down and injuries are taking their toll. After taking years of brutal hits and enduring an aggressive run style, Marshawn's body appears to be starting to finally break down. We all knew the day would come when he'd fall off that running back productivity cliff, and this is a big week for him as he finds out whether or not he'll need surgery for a sports hernia. We may be there.
If Lynch returns from Philly able to play, the Seahawks will have decisions to make with playing time, and while I'm not saying completely bench Marshawn, I think it's time to start distributing some of his snaps. Usher in the Thomas Rawls era. Rawls' had a hugely productive game against San Francisco, totaling 255 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns (one through the air and one on the ground). I'm convinced this one game against San Francisco was not a fluke, and he also had big games against Chicago and Cincinnati.
Among rookie running backs, Rawls' 604 yards is 2nd best, behind only Todd Gurley, his 5.98 YPC leads all rookies with 20-carries minimum, and his two touchdowns and three total touchdowns comes in 6th.
Rawls runs hard, encourages contact, and is big time in yards after contact. Per Sheil Kapadia and the studs at ESPN Stats and Info, Rawls currently leads all running backs in the NFL with 2.80 yards after carry. That's impressive.
A few videos Sheil Kapadia:
Seahawks ran more power vs. 49ers. Here, Britt pulls, Graham gets to LB, Rawls turns corner and finishes for 20. pic.twitter.com/c35k2oSGNt— Sheil Kapadia (@SheilKapadia) November 24, 2015
Additionally, as a rookie Thomas Rawls currently has three games with over 100 yards rushing. Per Brian Nemhauser, the only other Seahawks rookie to do the same was Curt Warner, who did it six times in 1983. This is the deal: Rawls breathes fresh air into this offense. The Seattle offense, simply put, looks better with a healthy Rawls than an injury-slowed Marshawn.
Maybe I'm going crazy, I don't know, and it's early to say this: but if Rawls continues to play like he has been, Seattle may have found their replacement to Marshawn Lynch. And that would be big. $12M big. The Seahawks currently control Rawls through 2017 - all at less than $600k a year. That difference in salary allows Seattle to invest that money to fill other holes in the roster.
Because of, or in addition to the big games from these two rookies, Russell Wilson also had a big day vs. San Francisco. He finished the game with a 138.5 passer rating and a 94.0 QBR, completing 24-of-29 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns - good enough for a career high 82-percent completion rate. He also added 30 yards on the ground.
All three of these guys were clicking on Sunday. Russ, T-Lock, and the Balls to the Rawls. And it won't be the last time. It's not hard to imagine that we're witnessing the Legion of the Future when it comes to Seattle's core offensive players.