With their fifth win of the season the San Francisco 49ers stayed atop of the NFC West tied with the Arizona Cardinals. The win over the Seahawks saw the defense dominating once again, while the offense ran all over Seattle’s defense. Frank Gore led the way for the 49ers in the 13-6 win with 131 rushing yards. Next up the 49ers will travel to Arizona in what will be another heated matchup with a division rival. Below is a game review and Game Gold Nugget awards.
= VERY GOOD
It’s no coincidence the 49ers win when their running game carries the load and gains over 100 yards. That was the case in the win over the Seahawks with the ground game gaining 175 total yards, with Frank Gore rushing for 131 yards for an average of 8.2 yards per carry. Gore also had five catches for 51 yards. Kendall Hunter rushed for 31 yards. The offense, however, got off to a slow start in the first half. Gore only had 39 rushing yards in the first half while Alex Smith threw 15 pass attempts for an average of 3.9 yards per pass.
With the Seahawks up 6-3 heading into halftime, the 49ers offense leaned heavily on their rushing attack running on 22 of their 30 plays in the second half. The 49ers were able to gain 117 rushing yards and averaged 5.3 yards a carry against a very good Seahawks defense. Heading into the game the Seahawks rush defense only gave up 70 yards a game and 3.3 yards a carry. Before Gore’s big day on Thursday, the Seahawks had not given up more than 55 yards to a running back this season.
The concern in the game was the play of Alex Smith. Compared to last week’s game he was efficient, but that’s not saying much. Smith did throw a 12-yard touchdown to Delanie Walker in the third quarter, but he had a lot to do with the 49ers bad first half by missing multiple open receivers with either overthrows or he just didn’t see them. The most glaring mistake was in the fourth quarter with the Niners up 10-6 and at Seattle’s 7-yard line. Smith forced a pass to Randy Moss that was intercepted by Seattle’s Brandon Browner in the end zone. With the Niners defense stepping up big in the game by shutting down the Seahawks offense, the interception proved not to be a disaster. Against the Seahawks and Giants, Smith has proven he cannot always be counted on in the big games. He is forcing more passes, which has led to four interceptions the last two games, instead of throwing it away.
Still, Smith should be the starter because he presents the best option for the 49ers. What the 49ers offense needed was for him to build on his success last season with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions. However, this season he has regressed a bit by throwing five interceptions already. Smith needs to step up.
On defense the 49ers stifled the Seahawks offense for much of the second half forcing three punts, an interception by Dashon Goldson and a change of possession on a loss on downs. They only allowed a total of 74 yards and four first downs in the second half and quarterback Russell Wilson had 122 passing yards, one interception, a 38.7 passer rating and only completed 39% of this passes.
The defense did allow Marshawn Lynch to have his second straight 100 yard rushing game against the Niners with 103 yards on the ground. NaVarro Bowman had a big game with seven tackles and one sack. The defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the game and shut out the Seahawks in the second half.
Heading into the game a big concern on special teams was limiting Seattle’s returner Leon Washington on kickoffs. The 49ers kickoff coverage has given up big returns this season, but kicker David Akers did not even give Washington a chance for a runback by booting four kickoffs deep into the end zone. Akers also made field goals from 38 and 28 yards. Punter Andy Lee just seems to get better with each game of the season. Lee had one punt go 66-yards and he landed four punts inside the 20-yard line. There where no big returns by Ted Ginn Jr., but he had a good day averaging 23.3 yards on punt return and 20.5 yards on kickoff returns.
Seattle’s defense showed early their secondary was going to play physical all game with the receivers, but Jim Harbaugh countered by having the offense throw to Gore on the outside and over the middle. Greg Roman’s offense struggled in the first half against a good Seahawks defense with only six first downs and 115 yards of offense. Three possessions of the first half resulted in three straight three-and-outs. Roman made the right call in the second half to focus heavily on the run on offense. He called 22 rushing plays and pounded away at the Seahawks defense with Gore and Hunter.
The passing game couldn’t get started because Vernon Davis was a non-factor in the game with zero receptions. Opposing defenses are focusing there coverage on him sometimes with double teams all game. Still, the offense needs more plays targeting him because when Davis is involved in the offense the passing game opens up for the 49ers.
Vic Fangio had his defense all over Russell Wilson and limiting to zero TD’s, 122 passing yards and only 10 rushing yards. Fangio had his defense pressure Wilson into two sacks and one interception. The Niners D did give up over 100 rushing yards for the second straight week, but they did not allow a touchdown.