Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 28-21 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium:
This game was the polar opposite of how the first three games went for Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks were toothless almost the entire first half as they went three-and-out on their first five drives — the last time Seattle did that was 2010. But the Seahawks put a drive together at the end of the half to take an inexplicable 7-7 tie into halftime. Then in the second half it was vintage Russell Wilson as, in the span of 56 seconds, he scrambled for one touchdown and spun out of a sack to throw a for a second. The pass protection improved significantly as the game progressed, and running back Alex Collins provided a big spark off the bench.
What a roller coaster of a ride this was for Seattle’s D. The Seahawks’ defense was little more than a theory in the first quarter when it was torched for 167 yards, and it got completely lost on the 76-yard touchdown pass to Deebo Samuel in the third quarter. But a crucial interception by Quandre Diggs on the 49ers’ second possession kept San Francisco from racing out of sight early on, and the Seahawks did a great job on third down, holding the 49ers to 2-for-14. Seattle also came up with an important stop on fourth down in the fourth quarter when the score was 28-13, ensuring that the last few minutes were merely an academic exercise.
What may have been the game’s decisive moment came on special teams when the Seahawks, after going ahead 14-7, forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up another TD. There were small mistakes — Freddie Swain nearly fumbled a punt, Marquise Blair had an illegal-touching penalty that nullified a 64-yard punt — but those weren’t egregious. Punter Michael Dickson was called upon often and averaged 50.6 yards per punt, while both kickoff and punt coverage were generally good, highlighted by Nick Bellore’s big hit that sent helmets flying.
The Seahawks lost their previous two games because they were vastly outplayed in the second half, as opponents made the better adjustments. Credit the coaches for adjusting in this one, which could have gotten out of hand had the coaches panicked. Changes were made on defense, with Sidney Jones replacing Tre Flowers at cornerback and safety Ryan Neal seeing a lot of time as Seattle deployed its dime package, and Neal in particular came through. It was worth taking the late timeout to see which direction San Francisco was going with its onside-kick attempt.
This was an absolute must-win game for Seattle, which would have found itself at least two games behind every other team in the NFC West with a loss. Sure, Seattle received a lot of help in this one — San Francisco played without a kicker, had to go with the not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Trey Lance at quarterback in the second half, and made miscues on special teams — but no one is complaining as the Seahawks avoided their first three-game losing streak in the Wilson era. The Seahawks now have a short week before another crucial divisional game at home against the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer