SEA-SF grades: Seahawks' safeties lead defense
Seattle Seahawks 25, San Francisco 49ers 23
Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seattle Seahawks’ 25-23 NFC West divisional victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Quarterback grade: Russell Wilson, 79.4
Wilson appears prepped for playoffs
Although far from spectacular, Wilson played well enough against the 49ers to secure a victory in just over three quarters. With a bye beyond the Seahawks due to results elsewhere, Pete Carroll opted to give his starting quarterback a break for the final quarter of the regular season. Prior to that point, Wilson had been rolling. A slow start quickly gave way to a string of highlight-reel escapes, resulting in a couple of big plays down field. In total, Wilson missed only five passes, wisely opting to throw the ball away at the first sign of duress. There are more important games to come. Discounting drops, Wilson was 19-of-24 for 258 yards and a touchdown. A couple mishandled snaps aside, Wilson looks to be in fine form entering the postseason.
Top offensive grades:
TE Luke Willson, 81.4
LT Garry Gilliam, 81.2
C Justin Britt, 81.0
QB Russell Wilson, 79.4
WR Paul Richardson, 75.8
Tight ends turn game in Seattle’s favor
For long periods, the 49ers’ defense had the upper hand against their divisional foe. A couple shot plays to tight ends Luke Wilson and Jimmy Graham, however, changed the complexion of the contest. Wilson took a huge dent out of San Francisco’s early 8-point lead, running a crisp red-zone post route for a touchdown. On the ensuing drive, Graham boxed safety Antoine Beathea entirely out of the play on a jump ball downfield, setting the Seahawks up at the 1-yard line. In total, Graham and Wilson combined for 104 yards on eight catches, along with the aforementioned touchdown. Luke Wilson put in a complete performance, topping the team with an 80.1 run-blocking grade. Graham was less consistent, missing a couple blocks in the run game and dropping a couple passes, but the Seattle receiving staff will nevertheless be ecstatic with their tight ends’ contribution.
Top defensive grades:
S Kam Chancellor, 82.7
CB Jeremy Lane, 80.7
DI Ahtyba Rubin, 78.7
S Steven Terrell, 76.7
DI Tony McDaniel, 74.7
Seahawks’ safeties once again lead the defense
The Seahawks have had one of the most talented defenses in the NFL for years now, but the driving force behind their success has been the play of their safeties. Kam Chancellor often operates as the hammer on run plays, and he collected two run stops and a 97.2 run-defense grade. The Seahawks will no doubt miss the play of their all-world free safety Earl Thomas, but his replacement, Steven Terrell, had a good game against the 49ers, as he only allowed one catch for 13 yards and added one defensive stop. Jeremy Lane was targeted three times, but only allowed one catch for 8 yards and broke up another pass.
Quarterback grade: Colin Kaepernick, 66.5
Kaepernick accurate short, but can’t get enough done in loss
Colin Kaepernick’s future is uncertain in San Francisco, while his head coach’s is not, as Chip Kelly was fired shortly after the game. Kaepernick was efficient against the Seahawks, but most of his success came on short passes. Kaepernick only completed three of six passes that were targeted beyond 9 yards downfield. He had two passes dropped and didn’t handle the blitz well as he was sacked twice on four blitzes.
Top offensive grades:
T Andrew Gardner, 80.3
T Trenton Brown, 78.6
WR DeAndre Smelter, 71.9
WR Jeremy Kerley, 69.1
HB Shaun Draughn, 61.6
49ers can’t get ground game going
Chip Kelly did add some different elements to his run game this year, with San Francisco using more pistol formations than Kelly utilized in Philadelphia. However, the 49ers weren’t able to run very successfully against the Seahawks’ defense. Shaun Draughn carried the ball 20 times, but only averaged 2.0 yards per carry, and was only able to generate 17 yards after contact. Draughn did rush for two touchdowns and forced three missed tackles. Jeremy Kerley caught six of his eight targets and provided 29 yards after the catch.
Top defensive grades:
ILB Michael Wilhoite, 84.8
CB Tramaine Brock, 81.9
ILB Gerald Hodges, 78.9
OLB Ronald Blair, 78.1
OLB Aaron Lynch, 77.4
Rebuilt linebacking corps starting to gel
At this stage of the season, for a franchise in San Francisco’s position, it is all about silver linings. Replacing Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman was never likely to be easy. It appears as if Gerald Hodges can nail down one of the two spots over the long-term. He’s been impressive this season, carrying that form into the final game of the year. Against the Seahawks, he recorded three stops, managed a QB hit, and didn’t give up a catch in coverage. Beside him, Michael Wilhoite’s has had a poor campaign. On the bright side, he ended the 2016 season with his highest-graded game, also recording three stops and giving up only a couple of receptions underneath. In conjunction, pass-rushers Aaron Lynch and Ronald Blair turned up. The duo combined for seven pressures. Blair’s two hits and two pressures suggest that the fifth-round pick has particular promise. The development of the 49ers’ young defensive linemen will be key to the fortunes of the franchise.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Seahawks S Kam Chancellor
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