In a game more resembling a heavyweight title fight, the 49ers slugged and slogged their way to a hard-fought victory over the up and coming Seattle Seahawks. Neither team was very effective through the air, and both teams pounded the ground with good chunks of yards. Frank Gore in particular had some big runs up the gut as the Niner O line opened hole after hole in Seattle’s d line. Gore often got to the second level for big gains. Marshawn Lynch also had a huge game, often running through 2 or 3 Niners to gain tough yards. The passing game on either side was a mixed bag of goodies. Wilson was hurried and rushed a lot more than Eli Manning ever was, and the pass rush forced a pick early in the 3rd quarter. Seattle was seriously hurt by 3 drops by their receivers. One, to Turbin down the sideline, could have been a touchdown, or at least 1st and goal. As it was, Seattle settled for a FG.
Alex Smith on the other hand looked fairly inept most of the night. Granted, his newest favorite target, Mario Manningham was out with a shoulder injury, but Crabs, in a bit of a return to form, was easily controlled by Seattle’s big physical corners. Crabs did little to shake coverage, and didn’t get open very much. And neither did VD, who was held without a catch. Randy Moss on the other hand seemed to get open more, but was missed on the pick in the end zone, and only caught one pass. The most effective plays for Smith were the checkdowns to Gore in the 3rd quarter on their lone TD drive. The good part was the fact that the WRs and TEs were clearing out space underneath to open that stuff up. I still like that strategy, because it IS safe, and it doesn’t preclude going downfield. When everyone is on a short route, the middle of the field gets clogged up and the checkdowns don’t work. With Gore pounding the rock, play-action works well to hold the LBs, and Gore can get loose in the short middle if the WRs are going deeper.
Anyhow, good, bad, or indifferent, a win is a win, especially on a short week and in the division. I’m sure the blogs are already on fire regarding Alex Smith’s play, but Seattle is very good at defending the pass. Their corners Sherman and Browner are big and very physical, and they have a pretty good pass rush. No one (not named Tom Brady) is lighting these guys up. Shit, no one’s talking about NE benching Tom Brady, since he lost to Seattle. His rating was a whopping 79.5. Smith’s was 74.5.
Encouraging to me was the fact that the Niners made some halftime adjustments to take control of the game. They cleared out the underneath to allow Gore to run free, and to also gain nice chunks of yards on checkdowns. The play to Walker for the TD was a great example of that. And, finally, let’s shelf the Cappy show for the time being. His one contribution resulted in his head nearly getting removed from his body. What’s galling is a major helmet-to-helmet hit isn’t called a penalty, but Goldson gets one for untangling himself from a tackle behind the line on Marshawn Lynch. Ludicrous.