The 49ers scored 33 points in the season opener win against the Seahawks. The defense dominated most of the game holding the Seahawks to 219 yards and 17 points. The offense only contributed one touchdown to the 33 points and had 209 total yards. The MVP of the game was the Special Teams who scored two touchdowns and four field goals. Ted Ginn Jr. had 268 return yards, running back a kickoff and punt return for a touchdown back to back. The 49ers overall played impressive and it was a great first win for the Harbaugh era. Let’s handout some Game Gold Nuggets.
Game Gold Nuggets (GGN’s) are based on 1 to 5 scale ranking the performance of the team with 1 being the worst, 5 the best.
The offense was not a real factor scoring points in the game. The 49ers offense finished with 209 total yards and was a dismal 1-for-12 on third downs. Luckily the special teams and defense stepped up in their place and the offense was not needed for points, but against other teams the offense will be needed. QB Alex Smith was an economical 15-for-20 on passes with 124 passing yards. The completion rating is nice for Smith but the total passing yards shows a majority were only short completions. RB Frank Gore tried to get the running game going but 22 carries only yielded an average of 2.7 yards per run. Gore finished with 59 rushing yards. Surprisingly backup RB Kendall Hunter was only used twice on running plays and finished with just four rushing yards.
Vernon Davis led the way in receiving and had two great catches showing his skills. He finished with five receptions for 47 receiving yards. Braylon Edwards debuted with just three catches for 27 yards.
The 49ers defense carried the team in the first half and until Ginn Jr.’s two returns for a touchdown. The defense gave up only 219 total yards including only 64 rushing yards. The D allowed 155 passing yards with 55 of those yards coming on a Doug Williams catch for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The TD catch brought the Seahawks within two points until Ginn Jr. bailed out the defense with a kickoff return for a touchdown.
The defense was blitzing often causing havoc for Seahawks QB Tavaris Jackson. Jackson was sacked five times with defensive lineman Justin Smith and outside linebacker Parys Haralson leading the way with two sacks each. Fangio unleashed the defense and Harbaugh put his trust in them until the special teams finished off the Seahawks.
The Special Teams was phenomenal against the Seahawks. They bailed out both the offense and defense multiple times and won the game for the 49ers. They were responsible for 27 of the 33 points scored and had 268 return yards. Kicker David Akers was perfect on four field goals and was the only one scoring points until late in the second quarter. Punter Andy Lee averaged 54.2 yards on five punts with one of the punts going 64 yards. The star of the special teams and the game was Ted Ginn Jr. He finished with 268 return yards and turned the game in the 49ers favor in the fourth quarter after the Seahawks came back within two points. Ginn Jr. had a 102-yard kickoff returned for a TD and followed that up with a 55-yard punt returned for a TD. Early in the game I tweeted the 49ers were going to ride the special teams to victory. I was joking at the time saying the 49ers had no offense but little did I know the 49ers would win because of the special teams.
Overall the coaching did a great job but I have to single out special team’s coordinator Brad Seely. One of the 49ers weaknesses in past seasons has been a lack of a return game. Seely was brought in to turn that around and in the first game he showed what he can get his special teams unit ready to do that. Ginn Jr. ran back two TDs, and the kickoff and punt return units showed great ability to open lanes up. If not for the special teams the 49ers would not have won the game.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio showed his defensive philosophy involves lots of blitzing. The D had five sacks and stopped the Seahawks on numerous drives. Fangio showed he knows how to utilize the players on defensive to the best of their ability and knows how to get results from the defense.
Jim Harbaugh had a questionable challenge early in the game to a punt return that was not touched by a Seahawks player. It clearly was not touched which makes you wonder if anyone was watching up in the booth telling him not to challenge. Harbaugh showed he trusted his defense to win the game for the 49ers rather than unleashing the offense. Harbaugh showed he may trust Alex Smith to start at quarterback but he does not trust him to let loose and go deep for a big play. Even when the 49ers were inside the red zone Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman rarely went to the end zone and instead ran the football or went with a short pass to the outside.
Roman’s offense showed a lot of different formations and shifts. It helped late in the second quarter when they needed a fourth-and-three conversion. Roman had an O-lineman lined up as a receiver and he shifted which drew the D offside’s and led to a first-down.
Next Up: Dallas @ home. The 49ers will host the hated Cowboys next week and if they want to start a winning streak the offense will need to figure out how to score more.