SEA-SF Grades: Avril, Bennett dangerous off edge

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seahawks' 20-3 Thursday Night Football win over the 49ers.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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.

Top performers:

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)


Seattle Seahawks

– 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.

Top performers:

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)


| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • AKjester

    It was nice to see the Hawks playing well. Offense still needs to pick it up though. The defense stopped the 49ers cold and offense should have had a bigger game.

  • Zack23

    Who’s fall is most impressive:
    RG3 or Kaep?

    • AKjester

      RG3 by a long shot for me. As a big Seahawk fan, I would have traded Russell Wilson and a First Round Pick for RG3 after the first year despite Wilson’s success. RG3 just looked awesome. The speed of his decline was amazing, however. He has never looked as good as he was in his rookie year. Kaep at least has flashes of his former self.

      • Zack23

        True, then again Kaep actually made it to a “100m” contract, RG3 lasted 28 games then *poof*

      • JudoPrince

        How can you say Kaep fell? A QB can only be as good as the team around him. The Niners are a rebuild project this year — so is Kaep. He actually performed quite well the previous two games against the Giants and Ravens.

        • Brandon

          How can you not say he fell. He got a fat contract and quite a few touted him as a top qb in the making. Jaws said he had the tools to be the best ever. Now even his most staunch(and sane) supporters want him on the bench. Thats right, a lot of people want to see Blaine Gabbert start over Kaep. And they will eventually get it. Sure the team isnt good, but thats no excuse to be outright missing passes.

      • Dale GoDawgs McLerran

        At the end of 2012, Football Outsiders ranked Wilson as the best rookie QB in the history of their database. Sure, RG3 had SLIGHTLY better statistics than Wilson. But remember that the Redskins play NFC East teams 6 times/yr while the Seahawks play NFC West teams 6 times. RG3 didn’t face nearly the same kind of defensive pressure that Wilson did.

        FO arrived at their conclusion about Wilson based on how well he performed considering the Seahawks’ very difficult schedule of opposing defenses. With very similar stats as rookies while facing much stiffer defenses, it is not at all surprising that Wilson has had the better career.

        Still, I do agree that RG3’s fall from grace is more impressive than Kaep’s. RG3 was a #2 pick in the draft while Kaep went in the second round. RG3 is not even starting anymore. Kaep is still starting. RG3 has fallen further from a higher position. That’s all there is to it.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      That’s a tough one. RG3 for me. His window is just about shut and Kaep still has some time. Also throwing all that money at Kapper gives him leverage. It will really embarrass someone if they don’t stick with him.

      Money makes you critic-proof in the NFL. Look at all the excuses it earns for #1 overall picks.

    • gomer_rs

      I think both RG3 and Kaep are great examples of coaches complete unwillingness to let running QBs play the game that brought them to the NFL.

      If RG3 or Kaep were allowed to run the 7-10 option plays that Wilson runs would either of them be completely failing?

  • AKjester

    Where did Sherman rank? He lined up over Torrey Smith the whole game and did not allow a catch. I know I did not see his coverage on every play, but that would appear to be a top performer to me. Perhaps its just because the other folks did so well. Or maybe Smith actually got open and we didn’t see it due to Kaep’s problems. In either case, I would like to see players addressed where their performance can’t be seen in the form of sacks or yards running to actually acknowledge how they are doing.

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  • Low Bounty Contact

    Even though SF’s QB7 is a head case the rest of the team is not far behind. Definitely a circular firing squad with poor aim.