The game started with one of the most impressive field goal drives you’ll see, which was soon compounded by Drew Brees nearly handing the ball to the Seahawks for a touchdown. It was the same kind of Seahawks football the 49ers have seen two consecutive times at CenturyLink Field. Seattle comes out early and assaults with vicious hitting and the one-two combination of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, the crowd sets some dubious Guinness “World Record” for noise and next thing you know Jon Gruden is telling us how “Pete Carroll is just too compassionate for these Seahawks” and you wonder why the game’s still on.
And don’t forget a cheap short or two along the way.
As fun as these Seahawks are to hate, with Carroll chomping away and the general Golden Tate-ness of what’s going on up there, there was a little dose of reality served on Monday night to 49ers fans. While the 49ers are trying to convince themselves that they’re finally hitting their stride with every win over a losing team, the Seahawks just crushed the Saints.
New Orleans lost on the road to the Jets and prefer room temperature, but they had some near-misses that would’ve made the game interesting in the first half — a dropped interception and a long pass on 3rd-and-2 that Brees slightly overthrew but still probably should’ve been caught by Josh Hill. The Seahawks got the ball back after that risky play failed with two minutes to go in the half and drove for a touchdown with ease, taking a 27-7 lead at halftime and showing that Rob Ryan’s defense isn’t worth all the recent hype.
Those New Orleans errors aside, Seattle was dominant. They more than doubled the Saints’ yardage total of 188, more than 150 fewer yards than they had gained in a game all season. Besides a 12-yard draw for fullback Jed Collins, New Orleans rushed 16 times for 32 yards. Jimmy Graham led the Saints in receiving yards with 42, as Seattle’s backup corners looked just as good as the suspended guys they replaced.
Carroll may be the most self-satisfied man in the entire entertainment industry, let alone sports …
… but there’s no doubt the man knows how to find and coach defensive backs. Carroll played safety in college and got his start as a secondary coach, and presided over some of the best secondaries in 49ers history as the defensive coordinator in San Francisco. Carroll’s secondary may not always play by the rules (as seen above), but it looks like they’ll probably survive the losses of Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond.
Same goes for their wide receivers. Sidney Rice is out for the season and Percy Harvin was inactive with a sore hip, so what does Wilson do? Complete 22 passes to nine receivers — including one each to former 49ers Michael Robinson and Richardo Lockette(!) — for 310 yards, that’s what.
If Wilson comes to San Francisco and leads the Seahawks to their 12th win and puts up similar numbers, he’s probably going to get some MVP consideration. Wilson’s on fire; Lynch has rushed for 107, 103, 111 and 98 yards in his last four meetings with the 49ers; the Seahawks’ defense is ranked slightly ahead of San Francisco’s in just about every statistical category.
What’s left to prove? Proving they can beat a good team on the road.
San Francisco wants to show they can beat one team other than the Cardinals with a winning record this season.
As much as the 49ers will tell everyone it’s just another game, last year’s run to the Super Bowl and their dislike for the Seahawks and their style of play will ensure that it means far more.If the Seahawks win at Candlestick on Sunday, they won’t just clinch the NFC West and set themselves up nicely to earn homefield (and if any team can call that an “advantage,” it’s Seattle). A third straight win over the 49ers will leave no doubt who the better team is. After Monday night, there isn’t much doubt left to spare.