Setting the tone in Seattle is generally tough for the 49ers.
But when they forced a three-and-out on the Seahawks' first offensive series, it was easily a tone setter. The defense came out the gates locking it down. You could sense the electricity from the 49ers that it was going to be a good game from them.
And then they allowed a touchdown on a fake punt.
To allow such a play to occur given how desperate of a state the Seahawks are in is inexcusable. The 49ers didn't even looked prepared for it. They were completely bamboozled on that punt fake as Travis Homer walked into the endzone untouched. That falls on special teams coach Richard Hightower, who deserves to be relieved of his duties at this point.
The special teams for the 49ers is a massive liability.
All season long that unit has been porous. From allowing fumbles to occur with any consequence shown, to leaving points on the board from field goals. Every area on special teams is horrendous for the 49ers. They cannot keep allowing this unit to cost the 49ers games. Special teams has easily factored into losses for the 49ers. Both games against the Seahawks have had gaffs from special teams.
The worst part of all is that there is most likely going to be no change. Kyle Shanahan continues to allow the putridness out of the special teams to go unchecked. Hightower looks like is receiving a free ride from Shanahan at this point. It is ridiculous to keep seeing the poor handling of special teams. On conference call with reporters on Monday, Shanahan was asked if he was disappointed with the performance from special teams right now.
“Well, yeah, two weeks in a row they've given up some bad plays," said Shanahan. "We know it happened last week versus Minnesota. Team played good enough around it to overcome it. We went into this week knowing how big of a deal it is, how good Seattle's been, how we were a little undermanned with some injuries that we had, which usually is a chain reaction down to special teams."
"So we knew how big of a deal it would be. And to miss that, for them to get that fake punt on the first special teams play of the game was huge. The fumble that we had was even bigger. And then the missed extra point, big deal too. So we definitely have to play there better and we're trying to work at it.”
Special teams isn't supposed to factor into losses. They are supposed to keep the game going. It is all routine for them. Make field goals, punt the ball into favorable field position for the defense, and DO NOT allow scores. Well, the 49ers are messing up in each of those areas. If the 49ers want to hope their playoff dreams do not end or end up being a first round loser in the playoffs, then they need to get these issues squared away.
Against the Seahawks on Sunday, the 49ers could have easily been in a different mindset had the punt return touchdown not been allowed. We are talking about a tied game here had they been prepared, then again Robbie Gould has been shaky as a kicker this season.
Heads need to roll on the 49ers because special teams should not be factoring this heavily into losses.