Re-Focused: 49ers @ Seahawks, Week 16

| December 28, 2011

The Seahawks where looking to keep their playoff hopes alive by knocking off division rival San Francisco, but the 49ers had different plans. As they did in Week 1, the 49ers were looking to punish Seattle into submission and crush any hope of playoff glory.

Seattle is a much-improved football team since the last time these two met. The Seahawks were riding the highs of an impressive running game and a defense keen on taking the ball away from their opponent, but a lack of takeaways and pressure caught up to them in this one.

As for the 49ers, they just keep on winning. Every week it’s the same thing, stout defense and ball control on offense. The 49ers are still looking to lock up that first round bye with a final victory in Week 17.

 

 

San Francisco – Three Performances of Note

A Career Day

As far as good games go in our eyes, Alex Smith has never had a better one than he did against the Seahawks. His +4.6 grade was the highest mark we’ve ever given him. Of the 49ers’ 72 offensive snaps, Smith only had four negatively-graded plays; he showed the ability to make every throw possible and showed the ability to extend plays with his legs and improvise on the run. There were a couple of plays that really stuck out in particular, the first being at the 11:41 mark in the third quarter. On this play Smith made the absolute perfect throw by fitting it into the tight window right over Leroy Hill’s head while still allowing Vernon Davis to get both feet down in bounds. The second play that impressed was a 2nd-and-18 throw that moved the 49ers into scoring position right after the Seahawks had scored a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth.

 

Rookie of the Year

It seems as if every week Aldon Smith shows up in one of the 49ers’ three performances of note. But its all well deserved because for the fourth week in a row he registered at lease one sack and a quarterback pressure. His fourth quarter sack on Tarvaris Jackson put him at No. 15 for the season which would be a rookie record, if it were up to us. While his +4.6 grade wasn’t the best of his young career, it was the best of any 49er defender on the day; Smith added three more quarterback pressures and one more quarterback hit to his all ready impressive stat line. It’s not all about the quarterback sacks, but sacks make people take notice and people who think Aldon Smith isn’t as deserving of the Rookie of the Year award as Cam Newton or Von Miller are just flat out wrong.

 

Sayonara

Seems fitting that Braylon Edwards’ last game, as a 49er was one of his worst games in his short Bay Area stint. Edwards has had a hard time finding the field all season long and in his 23 offensive snaps against Seattle he showed the ability to only hurt his team when he was on the field. He had one catch in the first half that looked halfway decent, but the two second-half penalties were probably the icing on the cake to what could be seen as a dreadful season from a performance standpoint. The -2.5 grade Edwards received was due in large part to an illegal block above the waist and an offensive pass interference. Interesting choice for the 49ers to release him now, but they must feel a street free agent can be more reliable as they head into the playoffs.

 

Seattle – Three Performances of Note

Beast Mode

The 49ers hadn’t given up a 100-yard rusher in 36 games and hadn’t allowed a rushing touchdown all season long, but if either of these streaks were to be toppled, who better to take them down than Marshawn Lynch. Lynch (+3.3) ran hard all day long and did everything he possibly could to keep the Seahawks postseason hopes alive. It didn’t matter which hole Lynch hit, he had success everywhere; when running off of right tackle he averaged 8.7 yards a carry. Next best was when he ran between Robert Gallery and Max Unger to the tune of 5.2 yards per carry. The most impressive run of the day would have to be his touchdown run where he made Larry Grant and Tarell Brown miss on the way to the end zone. On the season Lynch has forced 50 missed tackles, second-best in the NFL.

 

On His Way Up

Even though Earl Thomas hasn’t been Seattle’s best safety this season, he is playing above where he was last year and the improvement continued against the 49ers. Thomas has done a really nice job playing the run all year, but it was his play in pass coverage that stood out. Thrown at twice, he only allowed one reception for three yards. In the third quarter (5:22) Thomas showed off his range and athleticism when Alex Smith was looking for a touchdown on a throw in the back of the end zone to Vernon Davis. Easily Thomas’ best play of the day.

 

Big Man on Lock Down

Brandon Mebane is not a guy, who you usually associate with porous run defense, but Sunday was just not his day. On the season he is a +8.2 against the run, even with his -3.3 showing against the 49ers. In the first half it was Mike Iupati and Adam Snyder getting the best of Mebane with center Jonathan Goodwin taking care of him in the second half. Mebane played 51 of 72 defensive snaps and only registered one defensive stop and struggled most with getting off blocks. It’s rare to see Mebane get pushed around up the middle because he is usually such a dominant force. His play did improve a little bit in the fourth quarter, but it proved to be to little to late.

 

Game Notes

- The 49ers’ defense sacked Jackson three times, hit him five times and pressured him 12 more times.

- Ricardo Lockette made his NFL debut for the Seahawks by playing six snaps and hauling in one catch for 44 yards.

- When blitzed, Jackson had a quarterback rating of 39.6 and threw for six yards.

 

PFF Game Ball

While Alex Smith didn’t throw for 300 yards or score five touchdowns, he made every throw and came up big when the team needed him the most.

 

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