By: Apurv Baichwal
Ouch. Today’s performance was really ugly. The offense was pitiful, the defense was flat-footed, the special teams was sloppy and the whole 49ers organization looked to be a step behind the Seahawks. Seattle absolutely dominated this game, and they destroyed the 49ers with a score of 19-3, oddly enough the same score with which they beat the division leading Arizona Cardinals last week.
The Seahawks opened up the scoring with a touchdown, and they were relentless from this point on, tacking on 12 more points in the form of four field goals. From a positive point of view, the 49ers defense was actually pretty good in the red zone, as it only allowed the Seahawks to score one touchdown on five attempts in the red zone. However, this one statistic is one of the few bright spots, as the defense got stomped on everywhere else on the field.
The biggest problem for the defense was actually blown coverage, a quite unusual factor for the 49ers. For the first five drives of the game, three by the 49ers and two by the Seahawks, this game looked like it was going to be an intense defensive battle, with a low but close score until the end. Both defenses looked extremely strong for these opening drives, and through this whole series, only one first down was earned, by the 49ers. So, to recap, in the first five offensive drives, these two teams earned one total first down, a testament to the strength of their defenses. However, on the Seahawks third offensive drive, the San Francisco defense began to break down a little. The defense looked good for most of the drive, containing the Seahawks for the most part, but they allowed two sloppy plays to occur that allowed the score. First, on third and seven, the 49ers defense allowed the Seahawks’ leading receiver Doug Baldwin to roam free over the middle and catch a pass from quarterback Russell Wilson and run for a twenty-four yard gain. This gain set up a huge first down, and the Seahawks eventually scored on a thirteen yard pass to the left flat, where backup running back Robert Turbin leaked out from the backfield without anyone seeing him, and proceeded to run in for the score. Basically, Chris Culliver did not cover his zone well, as he went with the receiver crossing the field and essentially forgot about the flat, leaving a huge opening for Turbin. This play was possible simply due to a mental error, as there was blown coverage, but this simple mental mistake was enough to allow the Seahawks to jump to a 7-0 lead.
From this score, the 49ers defense never looked the same as they continued to make small errors, allowing a couple other huge gains. Also, they seemed to tire due to their offense’s woes, due to the fact that they never had ample rest off the field. With the 49ers offense being essentially pathetic, the defense had no time to rest, and their tiredness showed as they appeared to literally slow down as the game went on. This slowness meant that short two yard runs turned into long ten yard runs, and plays that should have been sacks turned into positive gains on quarterback scrambles. Basically, the defense was not able to play up to its standards due to the fact that the offense was so bad.
The only other bright spot of the defense was rookie Chris Borland’s play, as he was stellar as always. He is currently filling in for the inured Patrick Willis, who is a perennial Pro Bowler, so Borland has his work cut out for him. Fortunately, he has been amazing, making a case for rookie of the year, even though he first started playing serious minutes late in the season. Today, he led the 49ers defense as he racked up sixteen tackles, including one for a loss. For comparison, nobody else on the 49ers surpassed six tackles, and the leading tackler on the Seahawks only had ten. So, Chris Borland was a monster today, as he has been for the last couple weeks, and he managed to look good today, even when the rest of the defense was sluggish due to the offense’s ineptitude.
Moving to the offense, the 49ers only managed to score a measly three points in the entire game. The Seattle defense is good, but they are not that good, and the 49ers should have been able to score more points. They were held scoreless through the first half, and they went into halftime losing by a depressing score of thirteen to zero. Fortunately they were able to put some points on the board in the third quarter, as a shutout would have been unimaginably embarrassing. Even so, they only managed one measly field goal, although it did come after a rather strong offensive drive, probably the only strong 49ers’ offensive drive of the game.
The 49ers also had a promising drive in the fourth quarter, but it was ended by a Kaepernick interception, his second of the game. Today, Colin Kaepernick was absolutely atrocious, as he seemed to be completely inept at throwing the football. Kaepernick only completed 16 of 29 passes, for a measly total of 122 yards. Even further, as previously mentioned, he threw two ugly interceptions, and no touchdowns, giving him an atrocious quarterback rating of 10.7. Add to the fact that he was also sacked four times for 21 yards of loss, and the net passing attack only yielded 100 yards for the 49ers today. Those are atrocious numbers, and much of the blame falls on Kaepernick as he was extremely inaccurate today.
To add to the insult, everybody’s favorite Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman grabbed both of the picks today. He came into this game with only one interception on the season, but left with three, due to Kaepernick’s sloppiness. This Sherman is the same cornerback who went on a verbal rampage last year after the NFC Championship game, where the Seahawks beat the 49ers to advance to the Super Bowl. Richard Sherman is an absolutely detested character in the Bay Area, and he fuels on this hatred, as he attempted to silence the crowd after both his picks.
Moving to the rushing attacks, or at least the scraps of a rushing attack that was present today, no 49ers running back reached 30 yards. Workhorse Frank Gore came close with 28 yards on ten carries, but he was stifled at the line of scrimmage on almost every play. Backup running back Carlos Hyde got significant work today, as he received five carries, but he was only able to muster 19 yards himself. Finally, Kaepernick, who is the final part to the trifecta of San Francisco rushers, only picked up 17 yards on three carries, not enough to make up for his ugly sack total.
Since Kaepernick was so bad, all of the receivers fared poorly, with none of them topping 40 yards. Surprisingly, rookie Carlos Hyde came the closest as the leading receiver with 38 yards on three targets, but no receiver caught more than three balls.
Overall, in case it is not obvious enough from the statistics, the 49ers offense was awful today, as they only managed three points and 164 total yards.
The special teams unit was not too bad, except for Perrish Cox who fumbled away a punt and allowed the Seahawks to recommence a drive deep in 49ers territory.
To summarize, 49ers’ CEO tweeted:
Thank you #49ersfaithful for coming out strong tonight. This performance wasn’t acceptable. I apologize for that
— Jed York (@JedYork) November 28, 2014
Basically, everyone knows this game was bad, and everyone knows the 49ers need to improve from today’s performance, something they are fully capable of doing.
With this loss, the 49ers fall to 7-5, and third in the NFC West, behind the Arizona Cardinals and the Seattle Seahawks. They also fall lower in the wildcard chase, and the 49ers are going to have a truly difficult time making it into the playoffs now. With five weeks remaining in their season, and six weeks remaining in most of the teams, as they will play their Week 12 this Sunday, the 49ers quite literally need to win all of their next games if they want to make the playoffs.
The 49ers essentially have no chance of winning the division, with the Cardinals sitting atop it with a 9-2 record, and the Seahawks in second place at 8-4. Fortunately, the Seahawks do have a tough schedule coming up, but the 49ers is not much easier. The 49ers do have the luxury of playing the 1-10 Raiders next Sunday, but they then travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks again, in a game that will most likely be a decider for who makes the playoffs.
The Cowboys and Lions both also played today, so their Week 12 records are finalized, and they share the same record as the Seahawks atop the NFC Wildcard standings. They are all tied at 8-4, a game ahead of the 49ers, but there are only two wildcard spots. So, if the 49ers want to make the playoffs they have to outperform two of these three teams, as these three and the 49ers are the only teams in the running for the wildcard spots, not counting the teams currently leading their divisions. The 49ers can technically make the playoffs, but they will need to win every game, as these three other teams are all extremely capable of beating the 49ers out. With this game, the 49ers have fallen out of the lead for the wildcard, and they have given themselves an uphill battle to make the playoffs.
Fortunately play the weak Oakland Raiders next week, in what is essentially a home game, just a bit north and across the bay. So, the 49ers should be able to grab a win next week, a necessity if they want to make the playoffs this year.
Cover Image: [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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