Niners Falter in Seattle


Division games are often the most difficult games. Records don’t matter when you play your rivals. The Seahawks have not played great football this year. The same can be said for the 49ers as well. However, the Niners came into Seattle on a three-game winning streak and were looking to extend it. They failed miserably.

On Sunday, the uh-oh moment came four plays into the game. The Niners defense did what they have done the last three weeks, they forced a three and out to start the game. However, the Seahawks called a direct snap to Travis Homer who ran 73 yards for a touchdown. In many ways this was the harbinger of the game. Special teams’ miscues haunted the 49ers on Sunday. They started the first half with a special team’s bungle. They started the second half of the game with another special team’s miscue. The Niners were set to receive starting the second half. Yet, as Travis Benjamin ran it out, he fumbled the ball way as he was tackled giving the Seahawks excellent field position. Russell Wilson ended up throwing an interception a few plays later but the damage was done, and the stage set. The Niners couldn’t get out of their own endzone, and Jimmy Garoppolo was tackled for a safety tying the game at 23.

The Niners scored 23 points in the first half. In the second half they lost the field position game with the Benjamin fumble, and they struggled to recover. They didn’t score another point. Seattle forced a second interception, two punts and a safety. The one drive the Niners put together in the second half was in the last 4 minutes of the game. It was a brilliant drive of 95 yards. However, they couldn’t punch it into the endzone for the score.

There are three keys to the 49ers loss. First, the special teams’ play gave up two game changing plays. Two, Coach Shanahan got away from the run game. The 49ers run game is their bread and butter. It doesn’t matter if Deebo Samuel is out. There are other running backs on the team. 71 yards on 25 carries is not going to cut it. Now the enemy always gets a vote and it’s hard to execute a running attack when you are consistently backed up against your own endzone. Yet, the team must find a way to execute. Credit must be given to the Seahawks in forcing the 49ers to throw the ball. Jimmy Garoppolo played ok, but he threw two really bad interceptions. Those interceptions were not the reason the Niners lost though. The third key to the loss was untimely defensive penalties. During the last Seahawks touchdown drive of the first half the 49ers committed two senseless roughing the passer penalties. In both instances the 49ers had the Seahawks stopped on third down and they would have been forced to punt. Those are the kind of mistakes that cost a game and they did on Sunday.

The Niners gave an ok effort. The stars of the team showed up. Nick Bosa consistently put pressure on Russell Wilson collecting his 12th sack of the season while also forcing a fumble on the same play. Azeez Al-Shaair is growing into the next big Niner defensive star. He collected 16 tackles, a sack and almost got a turnover. George Kittle broke out for the season collecting nine passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Sadly, the stars play was not enough.

The 49ers really and truly did lose this game. This was their game to win. But for two special teams miscues they would have won this game by at least one score if not two. The 49ers have been living off their press clippings. They need to get back to basics if they want to have a shot at the playoffs. Right now, they are seventh in seeding right after the 6 and 6 Washington Football Team. The Eagles are nipping at the Niners heels at 6 and 7. Next week’s challenge is the scrappy Cincinnati Bengals who will be smarting from their home loss to the Chargers. Expect two angry highly motivated teams crashing into each other next week. Both the 49ers and the Bengals are seeded last in their perspective conference playoff order. Next week will be another playoff game in the regular season for the 49ers.

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