As the 49ers marched into an empty CenturyLink Field with hopes of defeating the division rival Seattle Seahawks in their ‘94 Throwbacks, and repeating last season’s 26-21 victory for the NFC West, all went in the opposite direction for the injury-riddled Niners.
Before any analysis and thoughts on the game are provided, something needs to be said to the 49ers fanbase: stop acting like this team is the ‘85 Chicago Bears when wearing the all-white throwbacks.
Did we really think yesterday was a guaranteed win because of the uniforms? It’s comical.
When looking for what went wrong in yesterday’s 37-27 loss, there’s no way to look other than the coaching staff. Kyle Shanahan’s impaired play-calling and inability to pick-up on Seattle’s blitz packages were just the start of yesterday’s problems. Along with Shanahan’s poor offensive play-calling, Robert Saleh matched Shanny’s absurd decision making, as San Francisco’s defense continued to align in Cover-1 and Cover-3 against the MVP favorite Russell Wilson.
Although Shanahan got very little going with his offense (aside from the 20 garbage time points), yesterday’s defensive gameplan sold the 49ers. As all three starting Seattle RB’s were out (Carson, Hyde, and Homer), the 49ers continued to prioritize stopping the run — leaving Russell Wilson to torch the 49ers secondary with DK Metcalf, who went for 12 receptions, 161 yards and 2 touchdowns. Metcalf managed to beat Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley every single time. Instead of trying to stop Deejay Dallas, an UDFA, the game plan should have been to stop the Seahawks lethal receivers. Wilson had the ability to make plays on the 49ers because Robert Saleh once again failed to adjust.
Along with the secondary, the 49ers run-defense did a poor job of stopping Dallas on the ground. Giving up big plays on reverses to David Moore and scrambles by Wilson, the Niners couldn’t seem to contain the MVP Favorite. Seahawks OC Brian Schottenheimer continued to break-down Robert Saleh’s injured and frail defense.
Switching sides of the football, the 49ers came out flat on offense against one of the league’s worst defenses. Missing All-Pro Safety Jamal Adams, Seattle had no problem against Shanahan’s gameplan (if there actually was one). Seattle’s defense was ready. All Shannahan had to do was stick to the script: inside zone, receivers in motion, and short quick routes to get guys like George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in space. Failing to do that, Shanny got too cute with his play-calling, as Seattle was able to read and limit WR screens, and all trick-plays Shannahan has in the playbook. Shanahan is going to make mistakes as an OC — it’s inevitable, but to not air the ball out until late in the second half and allow Seattle to stack the box and blitz continuously will lose you football games. The Seahawks defense managed to sit on the 49ers quick plays, limiting their offensive attack.
When the 49ers managed to put points on the board late in yesterday’s game it was because of Nick Mullen‘s vertical attack, and ability to get the ball out quickly. Mullens got WRs Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne going late in the game as they combined for 16 receptions, 172 yards, and a phenomenal red-zone touchdown from Aiyuk. Mullen’s 264 passing yards gave Shanahan a glimpse of what the 49ers could have done if they focused on a vertical passing-attack.
As for Jimmy Garoppolo, he is clearly still dealing with a high-ankle sprain, and his fear of taking shots downfield allowed Seattle’s front-seven to constantly hit the Disney Prince. San Fran’s offensive line has been the biggest issue for this team, but Garoppolo’s constant need to hold on to the football is what will continue to get him hurt. Backup Center Hroniss Grasu allowed constant inside-pressure, and Mike McGlinchey couldn’t seem to pick up blitzes off the edge. Their inability to pickup pressure limited the 49ers both through the air and on the ground, as the 49ers gained only one yard of offense in the third quarter. Embarrassing numbers, and a poor gameplan set up for the offense.
It’s hard to find what went well for the 49ers in yesterday’s loss to the Seahawks; Garoppolo, Kittle, and Coleman all headed to the locker room early facing injuries, leaving their availability for Thursday Night’s Game against the Packers in question. In order to get back on track, the coaching staff NEEDS to be better with gameplans and adjusting. The faulty preparation on game day was the biggest reason why the 49ers lost the way they did. And for that, the 49ers now sit at .500, with playoff hopes continuing to drift away.