The San Francisco 49ers suffered an embarrassing loss to division rival Seattle Seahawks on a nationally televised game Sunday night. They had an opportunity to clinch the NFC West for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1994-95 and show the rest of the league they are the team to beat come the playoffs. Instead they looked like a team that didn’t have the desire or ability to be on the field Sunday night.
It is somewhat expected to see a letdown after a hard fought game against the New England Patriots, but the 49ers just didn’t appear to be the same team out there last night. They were outplayed from the very beginning on both sides of the ball. The Seahawks pounded and passed the ball at their will against a defense that sorely missed DT Justin Smith who was out with an elbow injury that he suffered against the Patriots.
It is hard to say exactly how much Justin playing would have changed the outcome of the game, but the eyeball test told me all game he would have made a huge difference and probably kept the 49ers in the game.
The 49ers just could not get to QB Russell Wilson all game. The few times they did he was able to avoid the defender and still make a positive play. They ran the ball directly at LB Aldon Smith essentially eliminating his pass rush. Justin would normally require a double team freeing up Aldon or another defensive lineman or linebacker to get pressure on the QB and force him into quick or bad decisions and the secondary would benefit. That simply did not happen last night.
The 49ers did very little good last night on either side of the field, but without an effective pass rush and run defense, two things they did not have last night, this team has a completely different feel and appears to be vulnerable. Let’s hope Justin’s elbow injury is not serious and he will be back at the very least for the playoffs. If I learned anything last night, Justin Smith just might be the team and league MVP.