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The 49ers May Have Grounded More Than Just the Seahawks

Trey Lance's injury may have also grounded the 49ers' hopes of winning the Super Bowl this season.

The 49ers defense was dominant. It shutout the Seahawks offense.

The 49ers oiffense was prolific. It moved the ball well with Trey Lance at the helm.

Other than a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown, the special teams played much better than in 2021.

San Francisco blew out Seattle for the first time in more than a decade by a score of 27-7, to improve Kyle Shanahan's record to 3-8 vs. Pete Carroll.

If that was all, then most fans would've been ecstatic

Instead, nearly all of us were crestfallen, because Lance got tackled awkwardly, after keeping the ball to run up the middle on an option play on 2nd & 8 that resulted in Lance getting carted off the field with a serious season-ending ankle injury.

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It felt reassuring to know that the 49ers still  had a good chance to win when Jimmy Garoppolo entered the game. For as much as I've maligned him, I didn't want to leave the fate of a one-score game in the hands of Brock Purdy for three quarters.

Garoppolo played well, or least well enough to win. I was impressed, considering he had missed most of the offseason and preseason practices. He didn't even get the playbook until August 29, which was fewer than three weeks ago. In his first drive, Garropolo hit Brandon Aiyuk for 12 yards, then Ray-Ray McCloud for 16, then Ross Dwelley for a 38-yard TD, which made the score 13-0. After that, the offense looked stagnant until Dwelley came up huge again with fumble recovery on a punt return that led to a Kyle Juszczyk 1-yard touchdown plunge up the middle, making it 20-0.  

Not much happened for the 10 next minutes of the third quarter, until a 49ers drive stalled on 3rd & goal when Jake Brendel fumbled the snap. Tariq Woolen blocked the field goal attempt and Mike Jackson recovered the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. Instead of 23-0, which would've basically been game over, it was now 20-7 with new life having been breathed into the previously languishing Seattle squad.  

Both teams traded punts, until the Niners were finally able to sustain a long drive that began on their own 37 with 9:00 minutes left in the fourth quarter and ended with a patented Garoppolo sneak for a touchdown from one yard out with 1:54 remaining in the game, making it 27-7.

Lots of people, including many 49ers players, seemed happy to have Garoppolo back. And while it was great to be able to ground the Seahawks, I fear that the injury to Lance may have also grounded the 49ers' hopes of winning the Super Bowl this season. I'm not saying that 49ers can't win it all with Garoppolo, but everything has to be perfect for that happen. It's difficult to trust him vs good teams or good defenses.

I'm not ready to call for Shanahan's job, but I do think that he called too many designed runs and too many options where Lance was likely to keep the ball and run between the tackles. If that wasn't bad enough, Shanahan then called too many runs for Garoppolo as well despite his prolific injury history. Shanahan is very good coach, but he needs to do better. I don't see how that will happen if he never admits his mistakes.  

Speaking of admitting mistakes, I must admit that I was mistaken when I said that we shouldn't keep Garoppolo. This is another reason why I can't be too upset with Shanahan.