Here’s how the Seattle Seahawks grade out in their 28-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium:
Drew Lock was thrown to the wolves, and he performed as well as Seattle could have hoped. Starting quarterback Geno Smith was inactive after being a game-time decision because of a groin injury, thrusting Lock into his first Seahawks start against one of the NFL’s elite defenses. But Lock came out of it with a respectable line of 22-for-31 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, though he did throw two fourth-quarter interceptions. Seattle’s offensive line was a big part of that as it provided good protection (just five quarterback hits). But third down (2-for-11) reared its ugly head once again, and a run game that showed promise in the first half went missing in the second.
When San Francisco’s Christian McCaffrey broke off a 72-yard run on the first play of the game, it was an ominous sign for Seattle defense. To the Seahawks’ credit they recovered and had some good moments: consecutive three-and-outs following the opening touchdown to settle things down, two takeaways courtesy of safety Julian Love on an interception and forced fumble. But the number of explosive plays Seattle allowed is unacceptable, as the 49ers had 11 plays of 20 yards or longer, including touchdown passes of 54 and 44 yards. The Seahawks didn’t take anything away as all of San Francisco’s primary weapons had big games, and the 527 yards allowed was a season high.
Seattle’s special teams had to be bailed out by offsetting penalties on a third-quarter improvised fake by 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky. But otherwise it was a clean game for the Seahawks’ special teams. Punter Michael Dickson averaged 51.8 yards on his six punts, including a tremendous 60 yarder in the first quarter that carried the returner out of bounds at the 8-yard line. Seattle was good in kickoff coverage, with Jon Rhattigan leading the way. Kicker Jason Myers made his only field-goal attempt, a 40-yarder in the first quarter that gave Seattle an unexpected 10-7 lead.
Having Lock prepared for the start after Smith suffered his injury in practice during the week was a big win for the coaching staff, and the play design on the third-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Colby Parkinson was first class. But there was lots to question in the game. Why was run stopper Jamal Adams left in single coverage against the lethal Deebo Samuel for the 49ers’ second-quarter touchdown? Why didn’t the Seahawks go for it on fourth-and-2 at the San Francisco 47 when trailing 14-10 in the second quarter? Where was running back Zach Charbonnet in the second half? And the discipline issues that have been a problem all season long blew up in the fourth quarter, culminating in receiver DK Metcalf being ejected.
The expectations coming into the game, particularly with Smith not playing, was that this was going to be a romp — a reeling Seattle team without its starting quarterback going on the road against arguably the NFL’s best team. It’s a credit to the Seahawks that it wasn’t a blowout, and Seattle was within one score early in the fourth quarter. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Seahawks lost their fourth straight game to fall to 6-7, fell out of a playoff spot and now welcome 10-3 Philadelphia to town next week. The schedule gets easier after that, but by then it may be too late.
– Nick Patterson, Herald writer