The 49ers needed to run the ball more in the loss to the Seahawks, as the run was working but the team leaned away down the stretch.
However, the Hawks have proven to be able to play their best football against the Niners. This proved true once again, as San Francisco fell victim to a 30-23 road defeat in Week 13 with Seattle sweeping the season series.
Still, the win by the Hawks was made possible by the 49ers’ gaffes. The same gaffes that have plagued them all season long reared their ugly head again. The team started the game with a scary concussion to special teamer Trent Cannon. Cannon left the game after the opening kickoff with a concussion so bad he needed to leave in an ambulance. Thankfully, early reports seem to indicate that Cannon is recovering well.
The first quarter was wild and downright whacky. Still, it was clear early on that the 49ers were a more talented team.
Albeit a team that seemingly cannot get out of their way.
The game started to swing Seattle’s direction when the team lost starting cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, and from that point on, the Niners could not stop the bleeding.
From costly roughing the passer penalties to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo throwing interceptions, the team wiped out an unearthly performance by star tight end George Kittle, who ended the game with nine receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns.
But, the biggest reason for the loss is that San Francisco leaned away from running the ball.
49ers messed up by not focusing on the run more vs. Seahawks
The 49ers ended with 25 rushing attempts, which were about 15 less than what they had averaged over the last three games.
Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell, who had played such a key role during their three-game win streak entering Week 13, got 22 touches for 66 yards and a touchdown. But there weren’t too many complementary runs outside of his efforts.
And they never came close to getting close to 40 carries on the ground either.
Instead, actually winning the time-of-possession battle, the Seahawks targeted cornerback Josh Norman, who was not physically capable of covering Seattle’s talented wide receiver, D.K. Metcalf. So much of the Niners’ dominant play as of late has been dependent on a consistent dose of the run game. This opens up play action and allows head coach Kyle Shanahan’s scripted plays to be wide open.
In all honesty, San Francisco doesn’t appear to be able to recover. Once the game’s momentum starts to swing to the opponent’s side, the team begins to make costly mistakes, and the coaching staff seems to lose its play-calling confidence.
The 49ers are best when they bludgeon opposing teams. They are certainly capable of repeatedly running the ball and defenses being simply outmatched. Had the Niners not panicked, instead electing to stick with the run and use it to set up play action, they could have cut down on some of the costly mistakes, and equally important, kept quarterback Russell Wilson off the field.
Unfortunately for the Faithful, the team reverted back to their losing ways.