SEA-SF Grades: Avril, Bennett dangerous off edge
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seahawks’ 20-3 victory over the 49ers:
San Francisco 49ers
– Though far from the lowest point of the season, this was another disappointing performance from Colin Kaepernick (-1.3), even considering the lack of help from his offensive line. Some early throwaways hinted at an unwillingness to challenge a Seattle secondary that has tripped him up in the past, and more inaccurate short passes (3-for-10, 21 yards; -2.9 PFF passing grade) stymied the passing game further.
– For the first time since his acquisition from the Vikings, we saw Gerald Hodges (-0.3) in a San Francisco uniform, and more performances like this one from Michael Wilhoite (-4.0) may see Hodges’ role grow in the coming weeks. For the fourth time in the last five weeks, Wilhoite earned an overall grade of -2.0 or lower, and missed three tackles in a game for the second time in three weeks. Wilhoite’s 315 yards allowed in coverage and -8.5 coverage grade are the worst for any inside linebacker in the NFL this season.
–One of the bright lights to shine in this dark season for the 49ers has been Aaron Lynch (+0.5), who once again excelled as a pass rusher (+2.1) with a two-sack performance. Lynch earned a positive grade for the fifth time this season, racking up multiple knockdowns (sacks and hits) for the fourth time. Lynch got the better of both Garry Gilliam (-0.8) and Alvin Bailey (-3.7) at right tackle in the passing game, but his work in the run game must become more consistent (-1.8, fifth negative grade of the season) if he is to become a true every-down threat.
CB Kenneth Acker (+1.6)
S Eric Reid (+1.5)
TE Garrett Celek (+1.3)
DE Glenn Dorsey (+1.2)
CB Jimmie Ward (+1.2)
– It hasn’t been often that you’ve been able to give the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line any praise this season, but last night their work in the run game, particularly from Russell Okung (+5.5) and Justin Britt (+1.6), was credit-worthy. Both earned run block grades of +3.0 or higher on the night, clearing a path for Marshawn Lynch (+2.8) and Thomas Rawls (-1.2) to gain 97 yards on 13 carries off left guard or wider last night.
– The Seahawks’ dynamic duo of Cliff Avril (+3.5) and Michael Bennett (+4.0) haven’t needed a second invitation to get after the quarterback this season, and last night was no different. Aided by enough interior pressure and lane discipline to prevent Kaepernick from escaping up and through the pocket, the Seahawks’ top two pass rushers were predominantly able to collect their sacks around the pocket with Kaepernick often pinned to the top of his drop, or forced back as a sitting duck. Bennett and Avril added a combined nine hurries in a continuation of their destructive seasons that don’t seem to be stopping soon.
– Russell Wilson (+2.1) spent most of the night evading the pressure (four sacks evaded) his offensive line surrendered, and when they did keep him clean (on only 14 of his 32 dropbacks), he produced the plays to help see the Seahawks comfortably to victory (12-of-14, 153 yards, one touchdown; +2.4 PFF grade with no pressure). The first half was the story of this game, with Wilson’s interception late in the second quarter marring what had been a strong performance up to that point with a trio of strong throws, culminating in his touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett (+0.6) with 2:53 remaining in the second.
LT Russell Okung (+5.5)
DE Michael Bennett (+4.0)
DE Cliff Avril (+3.5)
HB Marshawn Lynch (+2.8)
LB K.J. Wright (+2.3)