For a team that is supposed to be the clear favorite to win the NFC West, they did not show it, or even show up for the 31-6 beating by the Seahawks. The 49ers started the game with an interception that resulted in a drive going to the one-yard line in Seahawks territory. That was the end of the positives for the 49ers who looked overmatched against the Seahawks on both sides of the football and seemed to be overwhelmed by the crowd noise. Yesterday’s game was supposed to be the 49ers statement game, they made a statement but one that said the NFC West is still up for grabs. With not many encouraging events transpiring yesterday there are only a few Game Gold Nuggets (GGN’s) to hand out in week one.
Who do you blame for the offenses horrible play? When you have inconsistent passes, poor blocking and no run game the blame is shared by everyone and you receive no GGN’s, just coal. I was extremely disappointed in the way quarterback Alex Smith played. His accuracy was my biggest issue, something it seemed like he got under control in the preseason games but relented back to his old ways of looking uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Smith’s inaccuracy led to his two interceptions and missed two touchdown opportunities early in the game with overthrown passes. The INT returned for a touchdown in the second half was blamed on WR Michael Crabtree running the wrong route but Smith threw the football and shares the blame.
With the Seahawks defense lining up eight men in the box to slow down RB Frank Gore, who finished with 38 rushing yards on 17 carries, Smith should have had a field day passing taking advantage of limited defenders in the secondary going up against the 49ers receiving threats. Instead Smith was off target on every possession except the first one passing 26-for-45 for 225 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, two sacks and one fumble. The offense was 1-of-15 on third down conversions. The negatives piled up early for the 49ers offense as their first three possessions went inside the Seahawks ten-yard line and what resulted was just six points.
The first drive almost resulted in a TD by Josh Morgan but was thrown too high by Smith which led Morgan to be bumped out of bounds in the end zone and ruled incomplete. The second drive was an 85-yarder and with head coach Mike Singletary going for it on fourth-and-goal Smith again overthrew a pass high this time to fullback Moran Norris in the end zone which ended the drive with no points. The third drive once again found the 49ers on the goal line and going for it on fourth-and-goal. This time however either Smith could not get the play off in time or offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye took too long to call a play. It depends on who you ask. Either way a delay game penalty was called and the 49ers were forced to kick a field goal which was the last of their scoring.
Overall the offensive line was not explosive and could not handle the Seahawks pass rush. Tackle Joe Staley gave up a sack and rookie Anthony Davis gave up two sacks along with a forced fumble. Gore who has had his best career games come against the Seahawks was not a factor nor was TE Vernon Davis, who had nothing open over the middle the whole game where he makes his living, and Crabtree who looked out of sync with Smith on the passes thrown his way. Remember that thing Smith said about chemistry and timing being an issue because of Crabtree and Davis missing much of the preseason?
Biggest question mark: Why did Raye call a pass to fullback Norris in the 49ers second drive of the game on fourth-and-goal? Sure, the Seahawks probably weren’t looking at covering Norris, which is why he was open, and were more worried about the other receivers but with threats like Crabtree, Davis, Morgan and Gore, why not go to your playmakers.
Of note: The 49ers three timeouts in the first half were called to avoid delay of game penalties.
The 49ers defense started the game on high note with CB Nate Clements interception on the first play of the game. For one and a half quarters the D held the Seahawks offense to just seven plays for 11 yards. Then the defense followed the offenses downward spiral and allowed QB Matt Hasselbeck to complete 10 of his next 11 passes and finished the first half with one passing and one rushing touchdown. Clements who looked brilliant on his interception was burned by WR Mike Williams for a long pass on the second drive trying to jump the same route he recorded his INT. The 49ers secondary continued to bite on Hasselbeck’s pump fakes the whole game which led to blown assignments and coverage penalties. They also allowed 34-year old Hasselbeck to run in for a touchdown.
Although the 49ers stopped the Seahawks rushing game giving up only 77 yards, Hasselbeck took advantage of the secondary’s mistakes by throwing two passing touchdowns and had 165 passing yards. The defense allowed the Seahawks to covert 5-of-11 third down conversions. As the 49ers offense struggled the defense could not pick up the team by making plays like they have in years past.
Biggest question mark: What happened to all the blitzing from the preseason? Maybe it was to throw off opponents into thinking defensive coordinator Greg Manusky was going to blitz on every down but we saw none of that yesterday. Did Manusky forget that the Seahawks offensive line was in disarray with their line coach quitting and the injuries? If anything yesterday was the time to be blitz happy against an aging quarterback and a hurting offensive line. On top of that the Seahawks seemed to abandon the run early which was the only thing the 49ers did right but still refused to send the blitz.
Of note: The 49ers lone sack was from LB Travis La Boy.
The special teams received one GGN because they were the only reason why the 49ers were able to put points on the board with two field goals. Punter Andy Lee was solid averaging 41.5 yards per punt with two landing inside the 20-yard line. The 49ers best blocker on special teams was on the field but was wearing a Seahawks uniform. Former Niner Michael Robinson was key to Leon Washington’s 41-yard kick return in the first quarter. It was hard for returner Ted Ginn Jr. to use his speed when there was no blocking on kickoffs or punts.
Head coach Mike Singletary was outcoached and out motivated by Seahawks counterpart Pete Carroll. Carroll made it look like he had been coaching in the NFL for the last decade and not college and Singletary looked like a rookie head coach. It seemed as if every time they showed Carroll he was pumped up motivating his players and the crowd, something we usually see from Singletary who looked deflated every time they showed him. At halftime I thought Singletary was going to give one of his best motivating speeches ever and the 49ers would come out and get back into the game. If that did happen the players forgot about the speech and instead reverted back to how they had been playing in the first half as Alex Smith throw an interception returned for a touchdown in the first drive of the second half.
Offensive coordinator Raye failed in his two goal-line situations yesterday. First he called for a pass to his fullback and then on the next drive decided to call a run play on 3rd-and-2 to go. Raye could not get Alex Smith comfortable all day and Smith slowly lost his confidence.
Defensive coordinator Manusky should have been more aggressive with all the question marks the Seahawks had on offense. Instead he forgot to blitz and could not get his secondary to stop biting on Hasselbeck’s pump fakes.
Biggest question mark: How prepared did Singletary get his coaches and players? After the game Singletary said he wanted to thank Carroll for “kicking our tails” because the loss was a huge wake up call for the team. Singletary had to have known his team was unprepared for the game. You cannot come out playing as flat as the 49ers did and expect to win the game.
Of note: The 49ers are 4-10 on the road under Singletary and have lost seven of the last eight games on the road.
Check out the Seahawks fan reactions at 12th Man Rising
Home opener against the New Orleans Saints. The 49ers will not get any mercy in week two as the Super Bowl champs come into town for a Monday Night Football showdown. Hopefully the 49ers can show a national audience that week one’s showing was a fluke and make a statement.