The Seahawks offense exploded for three second-half touchdowns and the defense shut down the 49er’s offense when the game was on the line. The result was a fourth straight win for the Seahawks and some swagger going into next Saturday’s NFL Wildcard Playoff Round. The No.3 seeded Seahawks will now host the No.6 seeded Los Angeles Rams at 1:40 p.m. PST at Lumen Field. Here are position grades from the Seahawks 26 to 23 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
This is a tough one. If the end justifies the means then all good. After struggling through the first three-quarters of the game the Seahawks offense exploded for three fourth-quarter touchdowns. How bad was the Seahawk’s offense in the first half? Try 106 yards of total offense. While some of the credit goes to the Niners defense the Seahawks were a dismal three of eight on third downs and had just seven first downs.
WILSON USES FEET TO BUY TIME AND AVOID RUSH
Give credit to the offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for upping the tempo and moving Russell Wilson out of the pocket during the third and fourth quarters.
Moving Wilson out of the pocket allowed him to avoid the Niner’s ferocious pass rush and buy some time for his receivers to get downfield. The quick tempo on offense opened up the run game. In addition to Wilson’s run running backs, Chris Carson and Alex Collins were able to keep the Niners linebackers and edge rushers on their heels.
The combination of Carson’s outside the tackle runs and Collins rushes inside the tackles opened up the play-action game. The result was a monster fourth quarter and record-setting day for Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Lockett had five receptions for 33 yards and two touchdowns. Although he had just one reception for 12 yards in the fourth quarter Metcalf finished the day with three catches upping his season total 83 catches and a franchise-record 1,303 yards. Lockett finished the season with a franchise-record 100 receptions and 1, 054 yards.
Hard not to acknowledge the contributions of Lockett and Metcalf during the season and game. Wilson finished the 2020 season with 267 career TD passes, second only to Peyton Manning for most TD passes through a player’s first nine seasons.
The defense shut out the Niners for all but the last drive of the first half which was a 36-yard field goal. San Francisco was held to just 95 total first-half yards. Linebackers K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, and Jordyn Brooks were able to stuff the Niners run game and make quarterback C.J. Beathard uncomfortable in the pocket
The Niner’s offense changed their attack in the second half and struck gold by running outside the tackles. Seahawks defensive linemen, L.J. Collier, Poona Ford, Carlos Dunlap, Poona Ford, and Jarran Reed were unable to keep containment in the middle and the edge. With no edge containment, the Seahawks linebackers and defensive backs were having to make tackles eight to ten yards down the field. With the run game clicking, Beathard had time to look and throw downfield. The result was three consecutive scores by the Niners to take a 16-6 lead.
The insertion on Benson Mayowa and Bryan Mone had a dramatic effect in the fourth quarter. Both players played the bulk of the snaps in the fourth and the result was two sacks by Mayowa. Mone was instrumental in stuffing the middle of the Seahawks Dline. One of Mayowa’s sacks caused a fumble.
When needed the defense showed stopping the Niners on one drive then causing a turnover when needed. Injuries to Jamal Adams and Jarran Reed impacted the defense but the unit was able to overcome and preserve.
Kicker Jason Myers botted two first half field goals to add to his club record of 35 consecutive field goals. The same can’t be said for his extra points. Myers missed his first PAT of the game in the fourth quarter but went on to make the last two. Punter Michael Dickson had another stellar day, with five punts for a 53.2 average and one inside the 20.
BIG TAKE AWAY
The Seahawks could have easily stayed conservative once the Niners took the lead in the fourth quarter. They did not. Carroll wanted to win the game and show his team what it’s like to win four games. Those are Carroll’s own words. Why do you ask? Easy if the Seahawks win their next four games, they’re Super Bowl Champs. Give Carroll credit for playing the mind games to get his team ready for a deep playoff run.