Seattle Seahawks Unravel vs. San Francisco 49ers: 5 Takeaways from Wild Card Loss
For 30 minutes, the Seattle Seahawks took every punch the San Francisco 49ers threw at them and fought back to take a 1-point lead into halftime of Saturday’s Wild Card rematch. But it all fell apart for the underdogs after the break as the home side scored 25 unanswered points in a dominant finish to secure a 41-23 victory.
Ending his first season as the starter on a high note, Geno Smith threw for 253 yards and connected for two touchdowns with star receiver DK Metcalf, who finished with 136 yards on 10 receptions, while Ken Walker III rushed for 63 yards from the backfield. . Defensively, Ryan Neal led the team with 10 tackles as San Francisco posted 505 yards of total offense.
Here are five quick takeaways from Seattle’s season-ending loss at Levis Stadium:
1. A devastating red-zone error smothered a tremendous effort by Smith in his postseason debut.
After struggling in two regular season matchups with the 49ers, Smith came out hot against the No. 1 defense. 1, completing nine of his first 10 passes for 104 yards. While it wasn’t the prettiest stat line he’s produced in half this season, and he was stuffed with a QB designed option that went on third down in the first quarter, he silenced the home crowd with a great ball for Metcalf in the middle of the road. second quarter, putting the Seahawks ahead 14-13 to erase a 10-0 hole. Late in the half, the veteran quarterback fumbled and slipped with time expiring, absorbing a free kick from linebacker Jimmie Ward that resulted in an unnecessary 15-yard penalty and setting up a long Jason Myers field goal to gave Seattle a one point lead at the break.
After a 49er punt to open the second half, Smith looked poised to push his team forward, pushing the Seahawks inside the opposing 30-yard line. But a short completion was wiped out by a questionable illegal downfield penalty against guard Damien Lewis, and after a fumble on Metcalf in the end zone on 2nd-and-14, Charles Omenihu came up to him and knocked the ball out of his hands, resulting in a killer clash that took at least three points off the board. The turnover took the wind out of Seattle’s sails, and from there, San Francisco rattled off 14 quick points to put the game away. Despite completing over 70 percent of his passes, the fourth-quarter interception-related fumble took the shine off an otherwise quality start.
2. Playoff DK balls out, keeping the Seahawks in the game with a historic performance.
In the final two weeks of the season, even though the Seahawks closed with a pair of wins, Metcalf was largely non-existent against the Jets and Rams. But when the bright lights of the postseason come on, he always brings his A-game, and he didn’t disappoint with the season on the line Saturday. Beating cornerback Charvarius Ward, who got the best of him in two regular-season games, he took the top of the defense on a vertical route for his third career playoff reception of 50 or more yards , tying Randy Moss for second most in the NFL. history. In the first half alone, he made four catches for 73 yards.
As Seattle fell apart in the final two quarters with self-inflicted wounds on both sides of the ball, Metcalf continued to make impact plays. Moments before Smith’s fatal touchdown, he caught a 25-yard reception to push the Seahawks past midfield to eclipse 100 receiving yards for the game. By the end of regulation, though he didn’t quite break his personal playoff record from a historic outing against the Eagles in 2019, he tied teammate Tyler Lockett for the fifth-best total in franchise history, while scored a second touchdown catch by Smith in garbage time.
3. Missile and explosive charges against a well-oiled YAC machine give expected poor defensive results.
On the scoreboard, the Seahawks did what they needed to do in the first half, holding the 49ers to field goals on two of three drives into the red zone to help them go into the break with a one-point lead. . But there were signs the good times wouldn’t last on defense, as quarterback Brock Purdy and heavily favored San Francisco averaged about 8.5 yards per play in the first half, and thanks to Seattle’s terrible rushing at all three levels, they generated six . plays explosive behind and run. That included a 68-yard run by Christian McCaffrey, who found a California-sized hole coming off left tackle to accelerate.
The 49ers picked up where they left off to open the third quarter as Purdy connected with George Kittle on a 23-yard touchdown reception and Deebo Samuel broke through a few tackles on a 21-yard gain on 3rd-and-7 to drive deep into territory of the Seahawks. The rookie quarterback entered the end zone on a QB sneak moments later to put the home team ahead and they never looked back, continuing to pile on explosive after explosive against a defense that provided minimal resistance. That included a 74-yard touchdown run by Samuel that multiple defenders, including rookie Tariq Woolen, failed to get off the blocks and even put a finger on him as he ran down the sideline for six. At that point, the shootout was on and Seattle had no chance to recover in a second half loss.
4. The inability to finish on pass rushes allowed an improvising Purdy to put a dagger in the Seahawks late.
For a brief period, after sacking 49ers quarterbacks just twice in two regular-season meetings, the Seahawks seemed to have Purdy a little rattled in the first half. He opened up on some inaccurate throws, nearly getting picked off by linebackers Cody Barton and Tanner Muse on separate occasions with misplaced passes. He also got a second crucial sack of Bruce Irvin in the second quarter that led to a Robbie Gould field goal. At the half, his completion percentage was under 50 percent, signifying a win for the defense.
But after that point, Purdy settled into running Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and when Seattle had chances to chase him in the pocket, he escaped the pressure and set up as a runner like old Russell Wilson against a hapless defense with no answers. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, he eluded Irvin when the veteran appeared dead to his right for a sack in the red zone, running back to his right to find an open Elijah Mitchell for a touchdown. of seven meters to push it. lead at 14. Later in the quarter, he almost made another improbable catch, running back and forth behind the line of scrimmage before looking for a perfect throw to Brandon Aiyuk in the corner of the end zone, only for the receiver to drop it . . Too comfortable all day, the Seahawks managed just three touchdowns against him and paid dearly for the lack of passing.
5. Special teams remain a bright spot in the loss.
After being named First-Team All-Pro by the NFLPA earlier this week, Myers capped the best season of his career with a touchdown, tying a Levis Stadium record by splitting the pylons from 56 yards to gave the Seahawks a lead at halftime. . Making the shot even more remarkable, Santa Clara was hit with rain Friday night and Saturday morning as well as during the game, making conditions unideal for long shots. For the year, he connected on 35 of 38 field goals and went seven for seven on attempts beyond 50 yards.
Additionally, Godwin Igwebuike continued to rebound as a kick returner, returning six kicks for 150 yards and nearly returning one at midfield in the first half. Both the running back and Myers, who will be free agents in March, should be priorities to re-sign for Seattle’s apparent strength zone in the third phase of the game.
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