Sunday, September 11, 2011

49ers beat Seahawks in season opener 33-17

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks(0-1) opened their season up with a thud in losing a divisional game on the road to the San Francisco 49ers(1-0) 33-17. The Seahawks offense couldn't move the ball with much consistency behind Tarvaris Jackson while the special teams allowed back to back touchdown returns late in the fourth quarter to blow the game wide open. Pete Carroll couldn't have liked what he saw from his team this sunday down in San Francisco. The Seahawks overall proved many critics right when calling the Seahawks one of the worst teams in the NFL heading into the season. The Seahawks at times was looking like a team who is going to be headed for a long season. The Seahawks didn't help themselves with a horrible first half which set them behind for the entire game.

The first half was the type of half many expected out of these two bad teams. In fact the first quarter featured zero scoring from either offense. The 49ers were winning the field possession game due to great punting and  Leon Washington not fielding two punts. The 49ers in the second quarter finally scored some points after Ted Ginn Jr. returned a punt 31 yards to the Seahawks 27 yard line. After a Frank Gore 12 yard run the Seahawks stopped the 49ers and held them to a David Akers field goal. The Seahawks following possession saw Tarvaris Jackson fumble the ball as the 49ers recovered on the Seahawks nine yard line. The Seahawks defense once again held the 49ers to an Akers field goal giving the 49ers a 6-0 lead. After another Seahawks possession that went nowhere the 49ers went on a nine play 50 yard drive which was highlighted by Alex Smith hitting Vernon Davis for a 27 yard gain. Just like the two previous drives the 49ers would stall in the redzone and would have to settle for another field goal by Akers to take a 9-0 lead. The 49ers decided to kick the field goal instead of going for it on fourth and one. Harbaugh was also being ultra consertative in the red zone. He knew the Seahawks offense wasn't doing anything so he wanted to take the two possession lead over the defending division champions Seahawks.

The Seahawks would continue to do nothing in the first half. In fact the Seahawks would have just 37 total yards of offense in the first half. The 49ers would finally make the Seahawks pay led by Smith who finally had his one and only good scoring drive of the game. On the six play 49 yard drive Smith was four for four passing for 29 yards while also adding a key 11 yard run. After two Seattle penalties on third down to extend the drive Smith would finally end the drive with a one yard touchdown run giving the 49ers a 16-0 lead. The Seahawks had one final series before halftime but that ended when Jackson threw an interception on a hail marry attempt. The Seahawks offense had looked pathetic all half while the 49ers offense failed to put the Seahawks away.

In the second half the Seahawks would actually start to move the ball. First the Seahawks defense who played great all game long three and outed the 49ers. Then the Seahawks took over on their own 44 yard line. After two Jackson incomplete passes he would hit rookie Doug Baldwin for a gain of 12 to move the chains. Then Marshawn Lynch would have his only good run of the game with a 12 yard run which saw him get stuffed then bounce out to the left to the 32 yard line. Jackson would hit Ben Obomanu for a gain of 13 to the 49ers 19 yard line. Jackson would hit Mike Williams for a gain of eight then Lynch would rush for three yards to give the Seahawks first and goal. On second and goal from the eight yard line Jackson would hit Golden Tate for the touchdown. That would be the Seahawks first score of the 2011 season and more importantly cut the lead to 16-7. After trading punts the Seahawks would go on a 11 play 50 yard drive ending with a Steve Hauschka 39 yard field goal to cut the lead to 16-10 at the start of the fourth quarter. The game would continue to be a defensive struggle as both teams showed they are not offensive juggernuts for this season.

The 49ers would respond to that field goal with a 15 play 72 yard drive ending with the fourth field goal of the game for Akers extending the 49ers lead to 19-10 with under six minutes left in the game. The Seahawks who had outplayed the 49ers in the second half would respond with a six play 80 yard drive. Jackson on second down would hit tight end Zach Miller for 13 yards to their own 33 yard line. Jackson would hit Williams for a gain of seven yards setting up a third and three. Jackson would rush for a gain of five yards to pick up the crucial first down. Jackson would hit undrafted rookie Baldwin who was facing his old college coach Harbaugh and Baldwin would take the pass 55 yards for the touchdown to cut the lead to 19-17. The Seahawks who had been stopping the 49ers all game long were feeling good about themselves as it appeared they were going to make the 49ers pay for kicking all those red zone field goals. Well football has a funny way of changing momentum often and that is what would happen next.

The Seahawks trailing only 19-17 with all three timeouts decided to kick the ball away. Ted Ginn Jr. would take the kickoff and return it 102 yards to give the 49ers a 26-17 lead as the 49ers snatched the momentum back from the Seahawks. Then the Seahawks on offense were stopped so they decided to punt inside their own 10 instead of going for the win. Well Ginn Jr.returned the punt 55 yards for the touchdown to give the 49ers a 33-17 lead. The 49ers would hang onto to win the game 33-17 despite having just eight first downs all game. Alex Smith was 15-20 passing for just 124 yards with 22 rushing yards and a touchdown. Frank Gore was shutdown as he ran for just 59 yards on 22 carries. For the Seahawks Jackson finished 21 for 37 for 197 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Lynch was shut down rushing for only 33 yards on 13 carries. The Seahawks defense came to play but unfortunatly the offense or special teams didn't. The 49ers didn't do much on offense either and they will be in for a long season unless they are more agressive offensively. The Seahawks were a team with no offensive rythym all game long and that cost them today against the divisonal foe 49ers.

All in all, the Seahawks have so much work to do offensively. The offensive line played pretty bad but the play of Lynch and Jackson makes them look worse than they truly are. The Seahawks defense played great against the run but still recorded zero sacks or turnovers which in the NFL won't get the job done one bit. The Seahawks dropped one of the few winnable games on their early part of their schedule. Now the Seahawks will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh in a super bowl XL rematch from the 2005 season. The Seahawks under second year coach Pete Carroll have a ton of work to do as they better figure it out soon. If the Seahawks don't figure it out soon expect a ton of fans to start openly rooting against them in a "suck for Luck" type of campaign. What a contrast from just a year ago.


- The Seahawks offense did exactly what I thought they do which was absolutely nothing. This wasn't all Jackson's fault but he does hang onto the ball way too long. Jackson ended up with decent stats posting a qb rating of 78.3 but he didn't do enough in the passing game. Jackson finished with just 5.3 YPA which is what he did in the preseason. Jackson can't get the ball downfield and with teams loading up to stop the run this is going to be a long year for the Seahawks.

Jackson was also sacked sacaked five times. Part of that was the offensive lines fault as they were blocking and the other part is that Jackson hangs onto the ball way too long which causes all these sacks. Next week against "Blitzburgh" Jackson better get rid of the ball quickly or the Seahawks are going to be in for a long day. Jackson may have had just one interception which was a hail marry but when you aren't moving the ball that does you no good.

- The Seahawks have a star in safety Earl Thomas. Thomas will most likely be the next Seahawk who makes the pro bowl who haven't have a pro bowler since 2008. Thomas was all over the field recording eight tackls. Thomas was also a big reason why the 49ers made no big plays. Vernon Davis had just five catches for 47 yards as the Seahawks bottled him up pretty good. Having Thomas also helped the Seahawks run defense against Frank Gore.

Gore had just 59 yards(2.7 YPC) including getting stuffed several times for losses down in the redzone. Thomas is an electric player for the Seahawks and he'll probably end up being Carroll's best draft pick. In today's NFL you need a play making safety who is all over the field and that is exactly what Thomas is.

- For all the praise Lynch received this past offseason for that great run he had against the Saints in the playoffs many forgot just how disappointing he was last year.  Like Jackson this isn't all his fault as the line simply isn't opening up enough holes for him to run through.  Lynch also isn't helping matters with his constant dancing in the backfield and dropping passes out of the backfield as well. For a power back Lynch spends way too much time dancing in the backfield.

Lynch finished with 33 yards(2.5 YPC) against the 49ers which should come to no surprise to anyone. In 15 games with the Seahawks counting the playoffs Lynch has averaged under 4.0 YPC in 10 games. He was under 3.0 YPC in seven games which shows he isn't getting the job done. He has rushed under 50 yards in nine games, under 40 yards in six games in his brief Seahawks career. He has been denied out of the end zone in 10 games. So for all the noise about that run in the playoffs which by the way was terrific that overshadowed the fact that Lynch has been a total disaster since joining the Seahawks. The offensive line isn't very good but Lynch isn't helping that line out with all the dancing that he does in the backfield.

- Carroll is obviously trying to rebuild with this roster or he wouldn't have let Matt Hasselbeck go. The Seahawks lost a game in which their defense allowed just eight first downs to a crappy 49ers team which is headed nowhere. The Seahawks offense was that bad today and the special teams basically gave up 17 points today with the offense allowing another three points.

Look for fans to get on Carroll this season as he didn't help himself with the fans by getting rid of so many key veteran players. I honestly believe Carroll has this franchise moving in the right direction. He had the defense ready and in the second half the offense made some adjustments and started to move the ball. Jackson played just well enough to avoid any quarterback controversy but not well enough to land the victory for the Seahawks.

In conclusion, this was a key loss for the Seahawks losing in their division. I'm not talking about future years for this year the Seahawks needed that win over their divisional rivals. The Seahawks will travel next week to the defending AFC champions Steelers in a game that will see them be heavy underdogs. There is a very good chance the Seahawks start the year off 0-2 which is why today's loss was so hard to take. The defense played pretty good today and the Seahawks still couldn't win the game. The offense better improve as will the special teams or this is going to be a long season. The city of Seattle after enduring six months of crappy baseball I'm sure won't have the patience to go through four months of crappy football. The Seahawks better start winning or the city of Seattle will start talking MLS instead of the sports that have been here for close to 40 years.

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