Aldon Smith

49ers lose to Seattle in the worst possible way

Sad Kaepernick

At least now there’s no ambiguity. Generally fans of a team are supposed to root for the team that makes it further from their own division or conference, but there’s no way it’ll happen in this case. The Seattle Seahawks did what they needed to do today in their 23-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, but the bad taste just won’t go away.

Not after the NaVorro Bowman Play. Not after Richard Sherman taunted the 49ers with a microphone and a camera in his face immediately after the game, as if the Seahawks weren’t worried sick they would lose this contest before Colin Kaepernick started handing the ball to Seattle.

So much chatter before this game had to do with what the officials might do. Will they call the game tightly, or “let the players determine the outcome”? In terms of overall gameplay, the officials handled the flow of the game just fine. Yeah, they missed the first of Russell Wilson’s two intentional grounding throws, and the personal foul call on Donte Whitner was so bad that even Troy Aikman got upset, but the worst play was one where the officials took the play out of the replay booth’s jurisdiction.

NaVorro Bowman stole the ball from Jermaine Kearse, who earlier caught an improbable touchdown on 4th-and-7 with Carlos Rogers applying decent coverage. Bowman took the ball from Kearse, and even with his knee getting bent all sorts of horrendous, held on. But within seconds Mike Pereira was violating our TV speakers, telling us how the play wasn’t reviewable. WASN’T REVIEWABLE!

Talk about adding insult to injury. The 49ers already had to figure out how to play without their best defensive player, but they weren’t even able to benefit from his last great play of the season. If Bowman had to go out like that, the play was perfect (even though the timing wasn’t). Unfortunately, neither Bowman nor his team was rewarded.

The NFL is so weird. Hit a receiver in the middle of the field on a pass that the quarterback shouldn’t have thrown: almost an automatic penalty. Then there are plays like the Bowman play that aren’t reviewable, or Andy Lee gets hit in his plant leg (a textbook roughing the punter penalty) and it gets the lesser, five-yard flag.

BUT, BUT, BUT, the 49ers should’ve won despite a few wacky calls and only have themselves to blame. Kaepernick screwed up repeatedly in the second half. He turned the ball over three times, which looked especially bad since Seahawks didn’t give it away once after Wilson’s opening-play fumble. Kaepernick ran for 130 yards and his jumping touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin was probably the best throw of his life, but his first interception was beyond terrible and he wasn’t even thinking about protecting the ball when Cliff Avril forced that fumble.

Then there was the interception caused by Sherman, who minutes later said, “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s what you’re going to get.” Again, Kaepernick forces a pass to Crabtree in the corner. This is not Crabtree’s fault. It’s Kaepernick’s for continuing to force an unlikely play, especially over a cornerback with great ball skills like Sherman.

Sherman is an ass of epic proportions, which we already knew. But to me it’s still surprising. I covered a game for Comcast several years back at Stanford Stadium, and after the Cardinal won I talked to Sherman on the field. Up to that point and for a while afterward, he was probably the nicest, smartest, most engaging interview subject I had ever encountered. Perhaps Crabtree’s refusal to label Sherman as the league’s best cornerback during his press conference on Thursday led to his postgame outburst, which caused some debate (as pretty much everything does these days).

This isn’t about being a “thug.” It’s about actively trying to rankle the guys you just beat. Maybe I’m getting old. I find trash talk before and during games to be quite entertaining, but afterward I don’t see the point. I also wouldn’t throw food at an injured All-Pro while he’s carted off the field either, so what do I know?

But hey, all respect to Seattle for winning a game after getting punched in the face on the very first play. Aldon Smith stripped Russell Wilson and recovered the fumble, and the “12th Man” sounded like another other disappointed crowd. The 49ers performed well in the first quarter, but didn’t come away with enough points. Then it became clear that their offense was based completely on Kaepernick.

When he got free and started running, things looked great. When he found open receivers, things looked great. Otherwise, the offense was a stinking mess. That’s mostly because Seattle’s defense is the best in the league (they proved that once and for all tonight), but there were some failures on the 49ers side that they’ll need to remedy next season.

Frank Gore has gotten so much love this season, from this site and many others, and when they needed him most he wasn’t there. Granted, the offensive line didn’t exactly have their best game on run plays where Kaepernick wasn’t the ballcarrier, but even Kendall Hunter looked better in his three carries (and Hunter has almost been a forgotten man for most of the season). Gore has been dealing with ankle problems for several weeks, and he may have suffered an injury to the same ankle or something else early on.

Boldin had two drops early and Vernon Davis was nonexistent. Davis has a spot on the team, but Boldin quickly went from “GUY WE MUST SIGN NO MATTER WHAT” to “well … let’s do a little research before we offer him three years and $15M guaranteed.”

Where was the creativity from Greg Roman? This didn’t even kill the game, but a handoff to LaMichael James on the first play of the season’s most important drive? Are you kidding??? It seemed like Roman’s plan was: “Let’s let Kaepernick run like we know he can. Otherwise, we’ll figure it out on the fly.”

The safeties were also horrendous. Doug Baldwin getting open for that 51-yard pass after Wilson ran around for a while was the kind of stuff that happens during a two-hand touch game. Eric Reid got juked out of his shoes on the Marshawn Lynch touchdown. Whitner was called for a penalty on a play where the safeties didn’t do a great job of covering Luke Willson.

Carlos Rogers probably played his last game as a San Francisco 49er. He’s a great quote, and played some amazing football in 2011. Maybe the silver lining here is we won’t have to watch this 49ers secondary go against the Broncos, a team with far better receivers than Seattle.

This 49ers team was really close to making it to their second straight Super Bowl. Painfully close. And to lose a game in this fashion, to this team, will probably do more damage than their Super Bowl loss to the Ravens. The Ravens aren’t the Seahawks, and the 49ers aren’t new to this anymore. Now there’s a real potential this team that seemed so close and so tight going into today’s game could get ripped apart.

People are going to start wondering about extensions for several key members of the team, including Jim Harbaugh and Kaepernick. The transition from Gore to Marcus Lattimore could get messy. Justin Smith isn’t getting any younger, and their best defensive player of 2013 will have his knee cut open in a matter of days. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are getting ready to finish the job the 49ers couldn’t last year, and in the process make every non-Raiders fan in this region nauseous.

It’s a bad night. Perspective will come soon, but no one’s in any mood for that right now. A close loss in Seattle was exactly what the doctor advised against, and the post-loss malaise is just now kicking in. Now all that’s left is to root for Peyton Manning, the guy the 49ers wanted in the first place.

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35 Comments on "49ers lose to Seattle in the worst possible way"

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DBThree
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DBThree

I’m devastated and heartbroken… The niners were one game away from being half way to tying the Buffalo Bills four consecutive Super Bowl losses. That is a hard record to reach, and they were on their way!

TechFan
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TechFan

I didn’t know that the fans threw food at Bowman on his way out.  This team, Sherman and the fans have managed to turn most of the country into Denver fans.

AdrianReynolds
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AdrianReynolds

Analyze this, critique that, bottom line is the 49ers had the game in their hands. Plenty of time on the clock with a chance to win, similar to how the Super Bowl ended. Great team, coach, just not a championship team and may never be with this current mix of players. I think Kaepernick will get better and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s the 49er QB for now and years to come, but draft or sign a decent backup in free agency, transition from Gore, etc.

StanLee16
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StanLee16
As much as I think Eric Reid gets too much hype, can’t blame him or Whitner for the 51-yard completion to Baldwin.  Wilson was scrambling for EIGHT seconds!  Who can cover for eight seconds? As much as the Niners had a team win last week, they had a team loss today.  Everyone is accountable including the coaching staff.  Kap had the bad miscues, but the last throw wasn’t a bad throw at all; just a great play by Sherman.  The actual play call itself was poor as he had Patton uncovered on the other side.  Why not call a timeout… Read more »
Tod in Austin
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Tod in Austin
Regarding the non-reviewable play – that’s the ongoing product of a deeply flawed system based on the assertion by the referees that they ‘must’ have absolute control of the calls on the field.  That assertion is not based on what’s best for the game, but based on the refs maintaining their own power.  All calls at all times should be reviewable in a remote booth in NY or somewhere so the right calls can be made and the game is play fairly.  Plus, that would speed up the game.  Instead, the NFL routinely uses ‘TV timeouts’ throughout the game and… Read more »
EliDrabman
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EliDrabman
This was a rough loss, but an amazingly competitive game. I liked the play calling and thought the offense played well given the fact that Gore got shut down. This was the loosest Kap has looked all year, and I’ll take the interceptions if it means he’s actually taking his shots. Lots of nice, gutsy throws, including the final interception. Crab could very easily have caught that. Kap had a great game, especially considering the circumstances. How many sacks did he avoid? How much pressure did he negate? How fearless was he, especially on the run? That Bowman’s utterly heroic… Read more »
ThirdNKing
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ThirdNKing

another 49er choke job….getting good at this

kap will never win a super bowl….can’t throw the rock…o well

go niners

ThirdNKing
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ThirdNKing

why harbaugh didn’t challenge that vernon davis catch is beyond me

ThirdNKing
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ThirdNKing

FIRE ROMAN!!!! NOW!!!

Tony Clifton
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Tony Clifton

CK reminds Tony of Manning…Eli that is. Tony is gravitating to CK due to the stories tony read about how CK will command a 20 million dollar/yr contract IF he wins against the c hawks. Shoulda, woulda, coulda…what’s his fair market value now? 
Tony says in reality, the game was a team loss- offense, defense, special teams + some really piss poor officiating.

Slam
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Slam

If I could throw stones at one player it would be Vernon Davis, the guy always disappears in big games. All the other key 49ers showed up and battled their asses off. If Kaep is so crappy to you spoiled Niner fans, cut him and start Colt McCoy. The Raiders would LOVE to pick him up.

Rob O
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Rob O

Galling loss… easy to say the Seahawks rivalry has surpassed Green Bay, Dallas, and LA Rams rivalries. It will I suspect force the 49ers to scrutinize thier team in ways they may not have or overlook things that need to be addressed.
Sea will be a force to contend with for several seasons 49ers need to make changes, clearly. The division is not theirs to own (that was fast) no longer.They will need to forcefully reclaim it. The process starts now.

jlcritser
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jlcritser
While I am still brooding after a game of inches and non-reviews, I have some classic pointers: 1. Berths to the Super Bowl are decided by execution by inches. That is what makes a great quarterback, by making the throws that beats the defender by inches. Kap’s “underthrown” pass missed Crabtree by inches and of course the mouthy Sherman will obviously capitalize on it. KAP is a great quarterback, but he will not be as good as Joe Montana or Steve Young if he misses by “inches” everytime. Peyton doesn’t have a strong arm like Kap does but Peyton knows… Read more »
identicon
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Slam He hasn’t done well in Seattle, but “always disappears in big games” sounds strange for a guy who went for 292 yards and four TDs in his first two playoff games, has four 100-yard games in the postseason and is tied for the all-time lead in postseason TDs for a tight end with Dave Casper.

BA Rich
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BA Rich

Slamyeah, “always disappears in big games” is ridiculous inaccurate.

Eric
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Eric
49er fans have to admit one of two things: Either CK regressed this season, or Seattle is simply a better team. CK did not look at all like last years CK, and play calling may be to blame, but aside from running, his decision making was off. Less photo shoots, more offseason prep. Stop boo hoping about officiating, even though that call on Bowmans fumble was horrible, as was the running into the punter call. 3 turnovers in the 4th did the Niners in. How about halftime adjustments? Apparently the Seahawks made them, while the 49ers plotted handoffs, and went… Read more »
rocketgoldstar
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rocketgoldstar

Can someone please explain to me by what metric Greg Roman is a good coordinator? Statistically? The team succeeds in spite of his mediocrity. Had really hoped to see something creative done with Patton out of the slot, and now we seem stuck with that stubborn idiot indefinitely.

Jeremy Schroder
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Jeremy Schroder
Seahawks fan here. A couple points regarding your post: “Yeah, they missed the first of Russell Wilson’s two intentional grounding throws” – Just watched the game replay on NFL Network, both Buck and Aikman said it was the right call on the broadcast. Wilson was out of the tackle box and threw the ball past the line of scrimmage. Maybe you know something that the Hall of Fame QB doesn’t. “but the worst play was one where the officials took the play out of the replay booth’s jurisdiction.” – Great play by Bowman, but the officials followed the book. It’s a… Read more »
AdrianReynolds
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AdrianReynolds

@Jeremy Schroder EliDrabman  Your post is on point except the last one…do you really think those 49er fans would say “I hope the Broncos beat you”? It’s sort of an NFL fan version of the Stockholm Syndrome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome). They told you what you want to hear and what you think will happen at Met Life in two weeks. GO BRONCOS!!!

DebbieUnlisted
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DebbieUnlisted

Talking with a fan friend who was near the popcorn incident…. said it was a young SF fan who was just trying to get a better look at bowman over wall above. Had popcorn and some fell. nothing intended at all.

SactownCharlie
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SactownCharlie
Clear as a bell: With time running out, the 2 minute warning and two time-outs remaining and with the success that CK had running the ball WHY didn’t CK run the ball on first down which eventually would have set up a play action pass on 2nd or 3rd or 4th down? KP may say this loss was on him for his three turnovers but Harbaugh and Roman are definitely to blame for the worst play calling at the most critical point in any game. I haven’t yet heard Harbaugh publicly say the loss was on him? Even that jerk… Read more »
Jeremy Schroder
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Jeremy Schroder

AdrianReynolds Some did say that, but you’re right, everyone in red will be rooting for the Broncos. I rooted hard for Baltimore last year, and would definitely be rooting against you again if you made it this year.
Go Hawks!

paperback writer
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paperback writer
I think a myth has grown- about what a “Great” play Sherman made on the interception. It was a GOOD play on a bad pass. The pass was into coverage and falling short of where it needed to be and Sherman was where he needed to be and performed the needed athletic move to tip it. Irony is both Sherman and Kap supporters are most vocal in their use of the word “great” because they have a mutual interest in the myth. Sherman to boost himself , Kap supporters because it gives Kap cover for his mishap (OK the coaching… Read more »
BA Rich
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BA Rich

DebbieUnlistedhahaha. Yeah, right. It’s pretty obvious the popcorn did not fall, it was projected.

Bryan
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Bryan
I am a Seahawks fan who watched the game for a second time just so I could get a clearer view of the action without the horrible stomach churning feelings which probably make us (on both sides) have inaccurate takes on things.  I’m here because I typed Aikman Luke Willson into a search engine and this is what is spat out.  I take nothing away from your right to complain about issues as you see fit.  I did plenty of that after Super Bowl XL I can promise you. Nevertheless, I assert that Aikman was dead wrong about that hit.… Read more »
Axeman57
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Axeman57
Bay Area Sports Guy Slam I think the point all you 49ers fans are missing is that the last 3 trips north, the 9ers are O for Seattle. Your QB and your D melted under pressure. Bad calls equal out (2 to 3) holding calls against your O line weren’t called) or did you miss our Defensive ends running in place with 9er O linemen BEHIND them? Odds are if you do get the ball on the fumble at the 1 by Kearse your team gets stuffed for a safety. So the non call actually got you the ball far further up… Read more »
LorieDilka
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LorieDilka

I still have yet to see the video where a Seahawks fan is throwing the popcorn who knows May it’s a pissed off 49ers fan who was mad cause he was no longer to play the game! Better yet maybe we should call mythe busters and test out Debbie unlisteds theory! Considering there is no video showing where it is coming from! After rewatching the game there are more 49er fans than Seahawk fans above that tunnel!

LorieDilka
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LorieDilka

My guess was that was what happened as I have noticed not one video exists showing where the popcorn came from! But it does make one hell of a mythical story for those whose team did not make it to the Super Bowl! But as I say whatever helps them to feel better I guess!

jlcritser
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jlcritser
About the failed catch-turned-interception by Kap attempted for Crabtree, the pass attempt was an indication of a high level of trust between Kap and Crabtree, what is the point of having Crabtree on the team if Kap cannot trust him or even stick with the playcall? I know they failed twice with Kap-to-Crabtree in two successive games in the postseason two years in a row, but that is not going to diminish their significant trust between them. After all they played championship football all season long. Their accomplishment shouldn’t be overshadowed. The only thing that should be overshadowed is Sherman’s… Read more »
paperback writer
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paperback writer
I wish Kap gave himself and the TEAM 2 more opportunities to cash in on their trust in each other. They had time-outs and enough seconds on the clock for at least 2 solid plays if in  this down they did not score. The ONLY thing that would take that leverage away would be a turnover. Whoops. In any pass like this – especially when a pic is a season KILLER – you throw the ball  to where no one – BUT the reciever can catch the ball – NOT a D-back. He trusts Crab probably because of his routes and… Read more »
TylerIreland
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TylerIreland

I’m missunderstanding Sherman I’m frenimes with this guy Karma… This is just a topic that is confusing
#UndecidedWithSherman

Axeman57
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Axeman57
paperback writer  The salient point is Kap and Crabtree thought they could beat Sherman, they did not, Sherman made a helluva a play that most corners couldn’t. You can talk all about how you think your team is better position by position but you lost two more games than the Seahawks did this year and you got beat by them 2 out of three. The Seahawks are better, plain and simple. They made the big plays when they had to and the 9ers did not. The stats over the season bear out that the Hawks are better, our O scored more… Read more »
EliDrabman
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EliDrabman

Nice try, brosephina. The Seahawks were the better team on that day, under those circumstances. That’s all. And I’m fairly certain you’re not paying Wilson’s salary. But hey, y’all can stay puffed up until the air starts leaking out, if that’s what you need to do, Puffy.

EliDrabman
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EliDrabman

P, I think the distinction you make about Sherman’s play works for Kap’s pass as well. Clearly it was not a great throw, since it got picked off. But it was a ball that Crab could have made a play on, makes it a good one, and it is a clear improvement on the super bowl’s final red zone attempt.

49erfan
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49erfan

Great article. A die hard 49er fan here. I completely agree with you Steve Berman.

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