By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
SEATTLE — A year ago, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick led his team to the Super Bowl.
On Sunday night, facing an improved and inspired Seattle Seahawks defense, Kaepernick had one of the least productive outings of his three-year NFL career.
Kaepernick completed just 13 of 28 passing attempts for 127 yards and no touchdowns with three interceptions in a 29-3 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field.
And Kaepernick took much of the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“We’re not going to win games if I play like that,” he said.
Perhaps, but in another locker room just a few yards away there was a very different perspective. A Seahawks defense that was good a year ago and then got better in the offseason with some valuable additions turned in its second stellar effort of the season, giving up just three points to the 49ers after yielding seven on the road at Carolina in last week’s season opener.
And San Francisco’s sole field goal was a disappointment to several of Seattle’s defensive players.
“We have a lot of pride in our team, especially with the defense,” cornerback Walter Thurmond said. “We wanted the shutout. That’s our mindset on defense.”
The Seahawks did a terrific job of making 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin a non-factor in the game. Boldin, who had 13 receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown in last weekend’s 34-28 home victory over Green Bay, had just one catch for 7 yards against the Seahawks.
“(Boldin) is a fantastic football player,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “He had (over) 200 yards catching last week, and for our guys to hold him to one, that’s a big night. It took a lot of guys to do that, but (cornerback Richard Sherman) had an especially good night on him.”
Seattle was equally stout against San Francisco’s ground game, holding longtime nemesis Frank Gore to just 16 yards on nine carries with a long of just 5 yards.
Kaepernick, meanwhile, scrambled for 87 yards on nine carries, giving the 49ers an even 100 rushing yards for the night.
“(Kaepernick) did a nice job of scrambling,” Carroll said. “He’s a great football player and that’s a great scheme that they run. But all in all, it was no factor in the game.”
San Francisco finished with 12 first downs and 207 yards, both below-average totals.
“I think we’re most proud of not giving up a lot of yards,” said defensive end Michael Bennett. “Even last week (in a 12-7 win at
Carolina), everyone was saying that we played good, (but) we were mad at ourselves because we felt like we hadn’t played to our highest level.
“And we still haven’t reached that level yet,” Bennett said. “We made a lot of mistakes (against the 49ers). We’re just looking for that game where we don’t make those mistakes.”
Seattle’s defensive successes to start the season are the result of everyone “putting a lot of hard work in,” Thurmond said. “Everyone still had a sour taste in their mouths after the Atlanta game (a playoff defeat that ended last season), and everyone has dedicated themselves to putting hours in, to perfecting their crafts … and to just trying to get better each day.”
For this defense going forward, added end Red Bryant, “the sky’s the limit. Every man in here knows the opportunity that we’ve got in front of us and we just want to take full advantage. So we just stay humble, stay focused, keep working, and we’ll see where that’ll take us and how far that takes us.”
“We have a chance to do something great,” agreed safety Earl Thomas. “The craziest thing about it, we stay humble and keep preparing like we’re doing … and we’ll be fine.”