Thursday, December 20, 2012

Upon Further Review: A look back at game one

The predominant narrative coming out of the Seahawks 13-6 loss to San Francisco in October was that the Seahawks offense could not catch the ball, their defense could not stop the run. It can be difficult to break down a game in real-time, and even shortly thereafter, when emotions are still interfering with objective analysis. I watched the game again this morning, and had a few takeaways to share.


> Field position was instrumental in the outcome
The Seahawks average starting point for their drives was the 15.4 yard line. Nine of their ten drives started at their own 20-yard line or worse. This forced the Seahawks coaches to be especially conservative with their play-calling when the team was in close to their own goal line. The 49ers average starting point was  their 34.3 yard line, more than twice where Seattle was starting. Only three of their ten drives started at, or inside, their own 20-yard line. 

> Seattle's running game was impressive
Much of the talk was about Frank Gore and his big game, but Marshawn Lynch went over 100 yards on only 19 carries, good for a 5.4 yard average. He was regularly getting 5-7 yards, and the offensive line was creating space for him. Robert Turbin has some nice runs as well, and averaged 4.3 YPC. 

> Frank Gore was getting yards all game
My memory was that Gore gashed the Seahawks in the second half. It is true that his biggest runs came later in the game, but he was getting 7-8 yards from the outset. 

> SF struggled mightily through the air
The 49ers appeared to shoot themselves in the foot on a few drives by going to the air when their ground game had been effective. Alex Smith was horribly inaccurate beyond 5-10 yards. This game will be much different.

> Seattle coaches were protecting Russell Wilson
It was Wilson's first game against the 49ers defense, it was on the road, and it was on a short week. All of these things added up to the coaching staff asking very little of Wilson. He did rather well with what he was given, but got very little help. It was obvious to see how much more he is allowed to do now, and how much better he executes in the passing game.

> Seahawks receivers, especially Golden Tate, had a rough game
Tate dropped a third down pass that was critical, but it was his inability to come up with a few deep passes that stuck out. There were a couple of down-field plays with 1-on-1 coverage where Tate failed to make the play. Those are situations he excels in. Sidney Rice got very few chances, and Ben Obomanu fell on a play that should have gone for 20+ yards more than it did. This group is better than it showed that night.

> The underneath passing game for SF was really just one drive
Everyone was talking about how the 49ers just ate the Seahawks up underneath. There really was just the first drive of the second half where San Francisco moved the ball with check-downs. It happened to be the key touchdown drive, but it was not the glaring issue people may remember it to be.

> K.J. Wright and Jason Jones had big games
Wright played one of his better games of the season. Jones was not getting sacks, but was wreaking havoc.


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