Closing Thoughts: Bobby Wagner Rules the Day as Seahawks Smack Niners
Avoiding a letdown against an inferior opponent, the Seattle Seahawks dominated the San Francisco 49ers from start to finish in a 43-16 ambush at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
Seattle didn’t play perfect defense, surrendering 452 yards of total offense to San Francisco, including 414 passing yards by second-year quarterback Nick Mullens. But led by Bobby Wagner’s historic performance, the Seahawks did more than enough to limit the 49ers to 16 total points, while the offense scored with ease much of the afternoon.
Some thoughts on Seattle’s important Week 13 victory and what it means as the team inches closer to a playoff berth:
- Coach Pete Carroll wasn’t joking when he stated after the game that throwing three touchdowns in only six pass attempts is “rare.” But that’s exactly what Russell Wilson did, as Seattle’s star quarterback opened the game completing his first three passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns to Jaron Brown and Tyler Lockett. After two incompletions, he hit Doug Baldwin in the end zone for his third touchdown, pushing the Seahawks lead to 20-0 late in the second quarter. Building an insurmountable lead in the first half, Wilson completed seven passes for only 83 yards in the final two quarters. But after buying some extra time in the pocket, he found Jaron Brown for his fourth and final touchdown pass after he broke away from cornerback Richard Sherman to further extend Seattle’s lead.
- Rookie running back Rashaad Penny continues to find his groove, as he showed impressive burst off the edge on a 15-yard touchdown to open the second half immediately following a long kick return by Lockett. Admitting that the game has started to slow down a bit for him as he’s adjusted to playing at the NFL level, the former San Diego State star rushed for 65 yards on only seven carries. His emergence, along with the standout play of Chris Carson, could leave Mike Davis without many snaps in the backfield moving forward.
- During each of his first three seasons in the league, Lockett has garnered All-Pro recognition as a return specialist. But as he continues to build on his career year, it’s worth wondering if he could be in the discussion for an All-Pro team as a receiver this time around. Despite playing in an offense that runs the football far more than it passes, Lockett ranks fifth in touchdown receptions (9) and has already set a career-high in receiving yards (713). His stats won’t be as gaudy as high-profile receivers such as Julio Jones who receive far more targets, but he’s been a lethal weapon for the Seahawks all season and ascended as one of the NFL’s best deep threats.
- The Seahawks scored more than 27 points on offense for the seventh time in eight games, but there’s still plenty for the team to clean up heading towards Monday’s critical matchup with the Vikings. Most notably, Seattle struggled with penalties in this game, as guard D.J. Fluker and reserve tackle George Fant both drew two holding penalties a piece that erased multiple quality runs. Playing against a lousy 49ers squad, they were able to get away with 10 penalties for 100 yards, but that won’t cut it against better teams down the stretch.
- After getting gashed for 220 rushing yards last week, Seattle’s defensive line held up much better at the point of attack with undrafted rookie Poona Ford replacing injured Shamar Stephen in the starting lineup and Naz Jones playing an expanded reserve role. Ford got off to a rapid start, racking up three tackles on the 49ers first three drives, while Jarran Reed kept his career year rolling with a whopping six quarterback hits and now has 6.5 sacks on the season. Overall, Seattle held San Francisco to 66 rushing yards and 2.9 yards per carry, while the front four combined to hit Nick Mullens 12 times over the course of the game.
- Wagner may have played the finest game of his illustrious NFL career on Sunday, becoming the first Seahawk to ever return an interception for a touchdown, record a sack, force a fumble, and recover a fumble in the same game. But he wasn’t the only Seattle linebacker playing great football, as Austin Calitro also wreaked havoc against the 49ers. Making his third consecutive start in place of injured starter K.J. Wright, Calitro recorded 10 tackles, including two tackles for loss. After the game, Wagner indicated he feels “really confident” with him playing alongside him and if Wright can’t make it back, the Seahawks may be in decent hands with the former Villanova standout becoming more comfortable at his position.
- The 49ers entered Sunday as one of the league’s best teams at producing yards after the catch, but Carroll couldn’t have been happy about the poor tackling exhibited by his defense, especially in the second half. San Francisco never truly got close enough to put the game in doubt, but Mullens amassed over 300 passing yards in the second half in large part due to Seattle’s inability to bring receivers down after the catch. The secondary accounted for most of these whiffs, as cornerbacks Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin missed chances to bring down receiver Austin Pettis on both of his touchdowns and safety Tedric Thompson was out of position on a few big plays for the 49ers.
- After being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week following a perfect game in Carolina, Sebastian Janikowski botched not one but two extra point opportunities. The 40-year old veteran had been money over the past few months, converting on 10 of his past 11 field goals while going the entire season without missing a point after conversion. Though the streak has been snapped, “Sea Bass” has been consistently good for Seattle and the team shouldn’t fret about his off day against the Niners.