Seattle, WA — Where opponents hopes and dreams go to die… until, a “pretending” 12-3 San Francisco 49ers team walked in and ended the 12th Man’s hopes of winning back the NFC West.
A hectic game that featured many high fives and cheers of joy, but also many curse words to describe the frustration of Ahkello Witherspoon’s performance. Yes, I’m calling out one guy.
This game came down to inches – and the Seahawks (sort of) again not giving Marshawn Lynch the ball on the goal line.
The defense stepped up when it mattered most, and clinched the 49ers first division title since the 2012 season.
There was one quote to vaguely describe the 26-21 victory over the Seahawks: “We definitely bent, but we did not break,” said by Team Captain and Pro Bowl TE – George Kittle.
Holding a 13-0 going into halftime, all the 49ers needed to do was burn clock, and adjust to anything the Seahawks would throw at them. The Niners did one of the two.
Of course, they burnt clock – but did not adjust to the Seahawks passing attack. Wilson was going to make plays either way, it needed to be how [Defensive Coordinator] Saleh would limit his ability to move the ball. The defense clearly did not stop him.
The hype was obviously there with the return of Marshawn Lynch, as he looked more like BeastCake rather than BeastMode. So what exactly was Brian Schottenheimer going to do? You have your top three running backs on IR, a guy that has not played football in 14 months (Lynch), and a 6th round draft pick who has been inactive for most of the season. The rotation would consist of Marshawn on first and second down, with Travis Homer as the featured back.
Pete Carroll stuck to it and the majority of the time it worked. Marshawn got his goalline touchdown he missed back in Super Bowl 49, that would get Centurylink on their feet. The run-game was sparked by Homer, as he would tear apart the 49ers defense both on the ground and through receiving.
The major issue however was the right side of the ‘Niners secondary. I hate to call out one guy, but when the opposing offense is constantly targeting you and you have not seemed to realize that something is going to go terribly wrong – as it did.
CB Ahkello Witherspoon would give up catch after catch and two touchdowns that would give the Seahawks total momentum.
Thank Jimmy Garoppolo for his playmaking ability, and being capable of taking the adversity thrown at the offense and turning it into points.
I’m truly not trying to slander Witherspoon, he just could not seem to pick up the fact that Wilson was going to throw at him all night. Those two touchdowns made the game closer than it should have been.
Choosing not to take Witherspoon out till the final possession was a poor choice on Saleh’s part. Part of winning big games like this one is adjusting to what the opponent will throw at you – going back to my point about him not making the change to Emmanuel Moseley. If Witherspoon stayed in that game it was almost certain the Seahawks would score again. Although Moseley did let up two big catches to put the Seahawks in better field-position, he was on lockdown when Seattle got into the red zone.
The Seahawks inched closer and got down to the two yard line with a view of the third seed in their sight.
My Dad and I both let out our massive amount of frustration and my Dad began to scream at the TV “We’re going to Philly. We’re going to Philly. We’re going to Philly.” It seemed to be over.
Seattle was gonna correct themselves this time and give the ball to Marshawn on the goal line. Wilson would hurry up the offense and spike the ball to stop the clock. Then, for some odd reason the Seahawks would take a delay of game penalty setting them back to the seven yard line. Things were still not looking good. Wilson was gonna do what Wilson does and put the ball in the end zone.
That was until Rookie LB Dre Greenlaw stepped up when the Niners needed him most. As Wilson found TE Jacob Holllister on a drag route, Dre would come up and stop him an inch short of hitting paydirt.
The 49ers would lock up the one seed and clinch home field advantage for the entire postseason.
Dre Greenlaw would make the game saving tackle for San Fran, but the offense truly one the game for this football team.
Even though his playcalling got a little too cute at times, Shanahan found ways to pick apart the quick Seattle defense. Garoppolo would find Kittle Over The Middle and connect with both Sanders and Samuel for big plays. The run-game was the true difference in this one, as Deebo Samuel and Raheem Mostert would find the end-zone, advancing the Niners lead.
In order for the 49ers to advance far enough in the postseason, they must stick to their offensive script used Sunday Night. Tear up opposing defenses with the backfield, and then confuse the pass-rush with bootlegs.
The defense will without a doubt have to step up their play – as they will face teams that can be effective both through the air and ground. Whether its Saleh making more adjustments, or making the smarter decision of starting Moseley over Witherspoon, changes need to be made if this team wants to play in Miami.
Sunday Night’s game closed out a decade that was dominated by the Seahawks, as the 49ers broke a terrible losing streak in Seattle and won the division as well.
That title of the “the Seahawks own the 49ers” was crushed Sunday Night – and look for it to stay that way.
(P/C: SB Nation – https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.sbnation.com/platform/amp/nfl/2019/12/30/21042305/49ers-seahawks-week-17-nfc-west-ending-recap-playoffs-seeding-inch-what-happened)