Anyone with access to the outside world could’ve told you the 49ers would struggle this year, particularly with a schedule as difficult as theirs. I figured they’d start 2-4, although I predicted before the season that they’d beat the Vikings and Giants — the Ravens being this bad is kind of shocking to the system, since it seems like they’ve been the poor man’s Patriots for the last decade-plus.
As for the Seahawks, well, that’s a 2-4 start not many of us expected. When Tyler Lockett returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead over the Rams on the first Sunday of the season, I was sold. The Seahawks are still good. Let’s see if the 49ers can keep pace with them on Monday against the Vikes.
But the Seahawks would fall behind 24-13 in St. Louis, before rallying in the fourth quarter and eventually losing in overtime on a Greg Zuerlein field goal. And apparently it wasn’t as much of a fluke as we thought, as Seattle has lost games like this throughout the early part of this season.
What’s going on?
- Week 1: 34-31 loss at St. Louis
- Week 2: 27-21 loss at Green Bay (the Packers have won 13 straight at Lambeau)
- Week 3: 26-0 win over Chicago (the Bears amazingly punted on every possession at CenturyLink)
- Week 4: 13-10 win over Detroit (ugly home win for Seattle)
- Week 5: 27-24 loss in Cincinnati (another overtime loss)
- Week 6: 27-23 loss to Carolina (the Seahawks lost at home after leading by 13 in third quarter)
Three of Seattle’s losses came to teams that are currently 6-0 and the other was a divisional game on the road, and the Seahawks’ point differential is +13 on the season. Then again, they barely beat the Lions at home. Let’s take a little closer look at the 49ers’ rivals.
Something’s not right with the Seahawks’ most important offensive player over the last few years.
Marshawn Lynch stars for the Seattle Seahawks, and Starbucks was founded in Seattle. The only next logical step is a Beast Mode Frappuccino.
Presto! Coming right up.
Marshawn took a trip to the Starbucks test lab to cook up his very own Frap to help benefit his Fam 1st Foundation. The drink seems … interesting. It’s a double mocha frap with mint, cream and protein powder with whipped cream, “purple berry drizzle” (???) and a matcha powder sprinkle.
No, not that. But … OH GOD, WHY DOES THIS ABOMINATION EXIST?!?!
I remember when I was a little kid, and my best friend’s dad took us out for ice cream. I was feeling pretty frisky that day, and I really went for it. I got a mint chip ice cream sundae with strawberry syrup. I still remember the look the ice cream scooper person gave me, and when I sat down, my friend’s dad wrinkled his nose and asked, “What is that?” Since I was like six years old, his comments bounced off me like a teacher’s instructions in Peanuts.
Then, I tasted the sundae. It was putrid, possibly the worst in the history of sundaes. But I had to eat the entire thing, because my friend’s dad made sure I didn’t let any go to waste. Anyway, the Beast Mode Frappuccino seems like something you’d make your friends drink on a dare.
The real problem with Lynch is that his hamstring has kept him out of two games (Detroit and Cincy) and can probably be blamed for him not surpassing four yards per carry since Week 1. In his return on Sunday he rushed for a touchdown, but had just 54 yards on 17 carries. We’ll see how his hamstring handles the Levi’s Stadium turf on short rest, but Thomas Rawls — an undrafted rookie out of Central Michigan — already has two 100-yard games and is rushing for 5.7 ypc.
So, two things.
1. Lynch’s hamstring isn’t the team’s biggest concern.
2. The 49ers probably wish they would’ve gone after Rawls instead of Mike Davis (15 carries, 20 yards, 1.3 ypc).
From Hawk Blogger:
The truth is Wilson has not been good enough. I don’t think he has even been close to good enough. Whether consciously or not, the team has been putting more of the game in his hands this season. There is no Max Unger to handle all the line calls and identify the blitzes. There has not been much Marshawn Lynch to hand the ball off to at crunch time. When there has been a key 3rd down to pick up, or a key red zone read to make, the Seahawks have turned to their franchise quarterback, and he has repeatedly failed them.
Wilson’s stats are right in line with what he’s put up throughout his career (he’s completing a career-high 68.9% of his passes), but it’s true — the Seahawks are 31st in red zone points and dead last in red zone touchdowns.
The offensive line
We might have found the main culprit. Here’s some info from PFF guru Jeff Deeney:
While the right side of the 49ers’ OL has struggled, Seattle’s entire line has been an issue:
- LT Russell Okung -7.9 (56th of 78 tackles)
- LG Justin Britt -17.6 (last of 81 guards)
- C Drew Nowak -5.8 (26th of 34 centers) Patrick Lewis took over last week and was a -4.7 vs. CAR
- RG J.R. Sweezy -4.9 (59th of 81 guards)
- RT Garry Gilliam -13.3 (72th of 78 tackles)
Remember how Colin Kaepernick got sacked a league high 52 times last year and everyone freaked out? The Seahawks are on pace to allow 69 sacks. (The 49ers are on pace to give up 51 this year.)
The Seahawks were the best defense in the NFL last year. No. 1 in points, No. 1 in yards. This year, they’re a lot closer to the middle of the pack than they’ve been in quite some time. Sure, they’re fourth in yards allowed and fifth in overall defense according to Pro Football Focus, but they’re 11th in points against and 12th in Football Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA. In all four losses they’ve given up at least 27 points. They only gave up 27+ points four times last year, including the Super Bowl.
So what’s the deal? They’ve got a pretty good pass rush with Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin and Michael Bennett (8.5 sacks, 11 QB hits and 46 QB hurries combined). Yet, even with Earl Thomas still playing at a high level, Pete Carroll’s once-vaunted secondary has fallen off this season.
— Kam Chancellor missed the first two games due to his holdout, and he’s missed seven tackles already (including four against the Bengals).
— More from Deeney: “Richard Sherman’s yards allowed/coverage snap has gone up just slightly this year (0.79 from 0.76 in 2014) but his QB rating allowed has gone from 48.4 in 2014 to 91.9 in 2015.”
— The other starting corner, Cary Williams, replaced Byron Maxwell in March as one of Seattle’s top free agent additions. Williams has a QB rating against of 99.7. He’s like their Shareece Wright, only the Seahawks let him play … a lot.
— Football Outsiders says Seattle is the seventh-best team against No. 1 wideouts, but they’re No. 31 against all other receivers and No. 30 when it comes to stopping tight ends (as Greg Olsen proved on Sunday with his game-winning touchdown).
Reasons why the 49ers can win
- They’re at home.
- Colin Kaepernick looks exponentially better now than he did three weeks ago.
- Sherman and Lynch don’t look the same. In fact, Lynch might be done.
- Seattle’s offensive line might be the worst they’ve faced.
- As the 49ers know, tough Super Bowl losses take a massive toll.
Reasons why the 49ers will probably lose
- The Seahawks figured out how to use Jimmy Graham (140 yards vs CAR).
- Sherman knows Kaepernick’s tendencies.
- Cliff Avril against Erik Pears is a frightening matchup for the Niners.
- Carlos Hyde is hurt and they can’t count on anyone behind him.
- The Seahawks have led in the fourth quarter in each of their games and the 49ers aren’t exactly a team built for making big comebacks.
The line in this game moved from Seattle (-5.5) to Seattle (-6 or -6.5), and that happened for a reason. Your record is your record, but the Seahawks probably aren’t 2-4 bad. But hey, you never know — it’s a short week and the 49ers are on an upward trajectory, while their turkey-eating rivals are vulnerable and have weaknesses they didn’t seem to show in previous seasons.