Dropped Passes and Poor Protection Costs 49ers the Game vs. Seahawks
And just like that the San Francisco 49ers are no longer undefeated as they fall to the Seattle Seahawks 24-27. You just had to figure the 49ers would lose a game eventually as 16-0 is just too much of a demand. However, losing in the way they did tonight was not to be expected. The 49ers recovered most of their key injured players, specifically with Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey and Kyle Juszczyk.
Having these guys back felt like it would be smooth sailing against the Seahawks. Well the exact opposite occurred in the game. The poor pass protection, on top of the plethora of dropped passes cost the 49ers the game. Staley and McGlinchey had awful games, which is understandable to a certain degree since they have been missing in action for so long.
But it was the way that they were getting beat so often that is still inexcusable. This was a pass rush in the Seahawks that ranked in the bottom five of every pressure statistic, yet they made Jimmy Garoppolo uncomfortable all game. It is why Garoppolo put the ball on the ground not once, but twice with one of them being returned for a touchdown. The 49ers' offensive line has been one of the best in the NFL, but clearly there was role reversal tonight with them and the Seahawks' pass rush.
Credit should be given to Seattle with their defensive gameplan. They noted the blueprint that the Arizona Cardinals put out there when they faced the 49ers. Overload the box to sell out for the run and force the 49ers to throw. Early on the Seahawks were paying for stacking the box, but once Emmanuel Sanders exited the game with a rib injury the passing offense dropped significantly. Remember, they were already without George Kittle so they could not have afforded Sanders to go out.
The wide receiver position was exposed in the loss. Not a single player had a clean game catching the ball, which was absolutely atrocious to watch. Dre Greenlaw has better hands than any of these receivers, who stepped in wondrously for the injured Kwon Alexander. If Greenlaw can continue his level of play from tonight, then the 49ers will be in a good position going forward at linebacker.
Going forward at wide receiver, however, is bleak if Sanders' injury keeps him out for the foreseeable future. He is the only sure-handed receiver for the 49ers, which shows how much of a weakness this group is. For about the fifth time or so this season, Garoppolo was intercepted due to the pass coming off his receiver's hands. It is simply inexcusable and heads need to roll during the next film session for Kyle Shanahan.
Deebo Samuel stepped up big time in this game, but even he had a drop in this game. The trade for Sanders just looks more valuable each and every week. If these receivers catch half of the passes from Garoppolo, then they likely add some more points to the board. As much as it seems tempting to do so, this game was not on Garoppolo by any measure. There really isn't much he can do when the offensive line is struggling immensely and the receivers can't do their one job of catching the ball.
The NFC west race now gets a lot more interesting with the Seahawks now at 8-2 with only a half game back. This is a game that the 49ers will want to forget and hope that Sanders and the rest of the players who suffered injuries will not be out long-term. San Francisco will have a chance to bounce back on Sunday with another matchup with the Cardinals. As poor as the offense looked tonight, one thing is for sure that the defense of the 49ers is the best in the league.
They brought Russell Wilson down to earth and kept the game within reach. The fact that this game went down to the final seconds in overtime is indicative of the winning mentality of this 49ers team. They have no quit in them and fought for every inch in this game despite being in another uphill battle. The 49ers can rewrite these wrongs on Sunday in week 11 with a win over the Cardinals. Surely, they will want to take care of that game since the Cardinals are the team that provided the blueprint to slowing down the offense.