ReFo: 49ers @ Seahawks, Week 15
The NFC West matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks may have lost some of its luster due to an uneven season by the 49ers, but was still a hard-fought battle that we’re accustomed to seeing. Both defenses played tough up front, but it was the Seahawks who managed to make a few more plays in the end to salvage the victory.
With the win, Seattle moves to 10-4 as they head for a showdown with the first-place Arizona Cardinals with a division crown, and likely homefield advantage, on the line next week. On the other side, the 49ers are now eliminated from playoff contention as they were simply unable to overcome injuries on the field and perhaps some unrest off the field among the coaching staff and front office. Here’s a look at the key performances from this NFC West showdown.
San Francisco 49ers – Performances of Note
Antoine Bethea, FS: -4.1
Breakdown: One of the best free agent acquisitions in the league this season, Bethea put together his worst game of the year. He finished with four missed tackles and gave up a 35-yard completion on his only target. He was used around the line of scrimmage a bit more than usual (31 of 68 snaps came at strong safety), but when he wasn’t missing tackles, he was often sealed out of plays by Seahawks tight ends and wide receivers at the second level.
Signature Plays: The missed tackles stood out, whether it was meeting running back Marshawn Lynch in the hole and getting run over at the 11:08 mark of the first quarter or a near-identical meeting with Robert Turbin with 3:05 to go in the third quarter that ended with the same result.
Joe Staley, LT: +4.3
Breakdown: As usual, quiet is good for offensive lineman when it comes to pass protection and Staley’s only mishap was losing to OLB Bruce Irvin at the 2:29 mark of the second quarter on an otherwise quiet afternoon for him. Staley’s +0.8 pass blocking grade was complemented by an impressive +3.3 grade in the running game.
Signature Plays: Staley had a key block on RB Frank Gore’s 10-yard touchdown in the second quarter as he sealed DE Tony McDaniel on the edge. On back-to-back plays in the third quarter, Staley did a nice job of sealing SS Kam Chancellor at the second level before coming back to wash DT Jordan Hill down the line on the next play.
Justin Smith, DE: -1.4
Breakdown: A rare negative grade for Smith included his first three missed tackles of the season, though he was quite disruptive on a couple of the misses. He did a nice job getting inside LT Russell Okung at the 12:34 mark of the second quarter, but was unable to complete the play on Lynch. It was a similar story at the 6:32 mark of the third quarter as Smith got outside LG James Carpenter and once again failed to slow Lynch down while the next play was a good one by Smith as he got into the backfield to contact RB Christine Michael but again, was just unable to finish.
Signature Plays: As mentioned, the some of the missed tackles were still disruptive plays and they didn’t crush Smith’s grade, but he was also sealed out of the action a bit more than usual. On back-to-back plays early in the first, Okung controlled him down the line of scrimmage while Carpenter got a nice seal after taking over a double team on the very next play.
Seattle Seahawks – Performances of Note
Bobby Wagner, MLB: +3.8
Breakdown: As Seattle’s defense continues to round back into form, Wagner has done his part by grading at +7.8 since returning to the lineup in Week 12. He was all over the field Sunday, finishing with a team-high seven stops, including a sack. He graded at +2.6 in the running game to go with a +1.0 grade in coverage.
Signature Plays: Q3: 8:47: On the sack, Wagner got some help from fellow linebacker K.J. Wright who knocked center Joe Looney right into RB Bruce Miller, but Wagner did a nice job finishing the play and ensuring that Miller didn’t have a chance.
Marshawn Lynch, RB: +1.7
Breakdown: Another classic outing from Lynch who broke 11 tackles and picked up 58 of his 91 yards after contact. It’s not always flashy, but his ability to pick up positive yards, even with subpar blocking, is crucial to Seattle’s success and keeping the offense on schedule. His run at the 11:08 mark of the first quarter was a great example as on 3rd-and-2, he ran through two would-be tacklers to turn what should have been a three-and-out into a first down and another life for Seattle’s offense.
Signature Stat: Lynch’s Elusive Rating of 138.1 topped all running backs in Week 15 and his 84.5 mark leads all running backs for the season.
Lemuel Jeanpierrre, C: -3.6
Breakdown: Seattle continues to miss starting center Max Unger as Jeanpierre posted his third straight negative game in his place. Seattle has managed to win despite Unger’s injury, but his ability to control the point of attack has been missed. Jeanpierre only gave up one hurry in the passing game, but he struggled with 49ers nose tackles on his way to a -4.0 grade in the run game.
Signature Plays: On the 3rd-and-2 that saw Lynch convert, Jeanpierre was tossed aside by NT Quinton Dial who missed the tackle on Lynch. It was a similar effort at the 3:46 mark of the third quarter as Dial bullrushed Jeanpierre into Lynch, but this time, Lynch went down for the 1-yard gain.
PFF Game Ball
Bobby Wagner was the catalyst to a strong defensive effort by the Seahawks, and he gets this week’s game ball.
Follow Steve on Twitter: @PFF_Steve