Five things we learned from the Seahawks’ victory over 49ers

Four days earlier, the Seattle Seahawks talked like a team that was confident they had turned a corner following a dominant win over the first-place Arizona Cardinals.

On Thursday, cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Russell Wilson enjoyed a postgame Thanksgiving meal on the 49ers’ midfield logo, all the evidence you need that the Seahawks do indeed, as Wilson said last weekend, have their swagger back.

If the San Francisco players or coaches took exception to two Seahawks stars celebrating on the 49ers logo, there wasn’t much they could do about it after such a thoroughly lopsided beat-down in their new stadium.

Video highlights from Seanhawks-49ers game

And don’t let the 19-3 score fool you, this game was never in doubt once the Seahawks built a double-digit lead, not with the way their defense was playing.

In fact, this result, which improved Seattle’s record to 8-4 and dealt a big blow to San Francisco’s playoff hopes, was so bad, 49ers owner Jed York felt compelled to issue an apology to fans on twitter immediately after the game, writing, “Thank you #49ersfaithful for coming out strong tonight. This performance wasn’t acceptable. I apologize for that.”

So that’s York’s take on Thursday’s game, and here are five more takeaways from a second impressive Seahawks victory in five days.

1: The defense is all the way back

With middle linebacker Bobby Wagner back from injury, with strong safety Kam Chancellor healthy, and with the team playing with newfound trust — the result of the now-famous blowup and ensuing team meeting prior to the Cardinals game — Seattle’s defense looks very much like the unit that was historically great in 2013.

No, the 49ers and Cardinals aren’t among the NFL’s elite offenses, but holding any two NFL teams to a combined six points and 368 yards over the course of eight quarters is awfully impressive.

One of the most telling plays for Seattle’s defense came on one play that was also completely meaningless when it came to the outcome of the game. On the final play of a game the 49ers mathematically could no longer win, Colin Kaepernick threw a short pass to Carlos Hyde, and rather than just escort the running back out of bounds, the Seahawks made one last gang tackle, with Kam Chancellor fighting to rip the ball away, before letting out a celebratory yell as the clock hit triple zeros.

While having a brief conversation with free safety Earl Thomas about Chancellor on Tuesday, Thomas got a bit off topic and with a grin and a crazed look in his eye, he said, “Don’t be surprised, man. I don’t want to start talking, but be ready, bro, we’re going to shock you. We’re going to shock you.”

Apparently the Seahawks, and the defense in particular, are feeling good about themselves right now, and with good reason.

2: The Seahawks, and especially Richard Sherman, are in Colin Kaepernick’s head

Postseason included, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has started five games against Seattle. After two interceptions Thursday, Kaepernick now has 3-to-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio in five starts against the Seahawks, playoffs included, and those five starts all rank in his bottom eight performances in terms of passer rating.

Sherman, in particular, has Kaepernick’s number, adding two more interceptions Thursday. If you include Sherman’s famous tip play that was intercepted by Malcolm Smith in the NFC Championship game, Sherman is now responsible for five of Kaepernick’s 24 career interceptions in the regular and postseason.

3: Russell Wilson might have turned a corner

And no, we’re not just talking about the corners Wilson turned while once again eluding pass rushers, including a remarkable escape act that led to a 63-yard completion to Tony Moeaki. Rather, Wilson has picked his game up a notch in the past two weeks despite playing two of the NFL’s top defenses. Wilson didn’t turn the ball over for a second straight game, posted a passer rating of 118.8 after 121.6 against Arizona, and averaged better than 10 yards per attempt for just the second time.

But it’s not just the numbers that tell the story with Wilson, it’s the way he continually turns seemingly busted plays into spectacular ones, helping the Seahawks gain big chunks of yardage against a team that doesn’t often give up big plays.

4: The Cardinals have to be looking over their shoulders right now

The Cardinals went into last week’s game against Seattle with the league’s best record and a three-game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West. After a loss in Seattle, plus a second-straight lopsided win for the Seahawks, the Cardinals head to Atlanta this weekend with a 1.5 game lead. Arizona’s schedule doesn’t get easier from there, with a home game against Kansas City, then games in St. Louis, home against Seattle and at San Francisco.

With quarterback Drew Stanton looking last week a lot more like the backup he has been throughout his career, and with the Seahawks suddenly playing so well, it could be a nervous final month of the season in the desert.

5: The penalty disparity continues

Head coach Pete Carroll vented a bit earlier in the week about penalties; not so much complaining about the ones being called on the Seahawks, but rather the lack of them being called on opponents.

It’s safe to say Thursday’s game didn’t help him get over that after his team was flagged for 14 penalties for 105 yards, while the 49ers had just three penalties for 20 yards.

The Seahawks have now had 51 more penalties enforced against them than their opponents, by far the biggest disparity in the league, a gap Carroll referred to as a “cavern” in his postgame press conference.

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