A look at all 53 from 49ers’ loss in Seattle

There were a lot of plays to dissect from the 49ers’ 20-17 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, but we’ll go behind the scenes to pay particular attention to two critical third-down pass plays late in the game.


Third-and-4 from Seattle 16 with 3:06 remaining, 49ers down by 3: With the naked eye, it looked as if Michael Crabtree alligator-armed Smith’s on-target pass in the end zone. The fact is, Smith felt as if he had to get rid of the ball much sooner than he wanted because of the game situation. The play was designed for the back of the end zone. When Crabtree turned to look for the ball, he was at the goal line and the ball was already upon him. It was an impossible catch. So why did Smith throw the ball early? The 49ers were already in field-goal range and he did not want to risk a sack-fumble. There was no underneath option
AlexD.jpgbecause Frank Gore remained in to block. In fact, Smith sensed safety Jordan Babineaux was blitzing from the left side. Gore had to move across the formation, in front of Smith, to pick up Babineaux. Had Smith known that, he would’ve been able to hold the ball a little longer but he did not want to take the chance in that situation. The 49ers settled for the game-tying field goal.


Third-and-3 from SF 18 with :39 remaining, game tied: The 49ers needed a first down just to prevent Seattle from getting one last chance. On first and second downs, the Seahawks rushed three men and dropped eight into coverage. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye was expecting something similar from the Seahawks. Instead, the Seahawks rushed four and had a fifth defender at the line of scrimmage to occupy Frank Gore. Because of Seattle‘s defense, the play automatically adjusted and the 49ers had no intended receiver inside 12 yards of the line of scrimmage. Smith’s first read took him deep right. But his best option, in retrospect, was tight end Vernon Davis running a diagonal route from right to left with Babineaux trailing by a couple steps. Smith’s pass was nearly picked off. The 49ers were forced to punt, and the Seahawks got into range for the winning field goal. “I was expecting coverage again and all of a sudden they came up and played ‘man,'” Smith said. “That’s the play looking back on it . . . if you find a completion there you move the chains and at worst it’s going into overtime. That’s the one ball, in my mind, I’d like to have over again.” I think there was also a flaw in the design of the play. The 49ers needed just 3 yards, and Smith did not have a high-percentage option underneath.


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I did not count the aforementioned pass to Crabtree as a drop. But there were nine other catchable passes that were not secured by 49ers receivers:


–Crabtree had a pass early in the game go off his hands, though it was not a well-thrown pass. Later, on a play in which he appeared to be interfered with, he did not make the catch with a defender hanging all over him.


–Vernon Davis juggled a first-quarter pass at the goal line. He later had a flat-out drop on a crossing pattern; and he said he didn’t see the late pass from Smith that would’ve provided a go-ahead touchdown with 3 minutes remaining.


–Delanie Walker was interfered with, but he still could’ve made the catch on the fourth-and-1 play in the end zone.


–Josh Morgan failed to hold on after a big him from linebacker Aaron Curry.


–Frank Gore had a drop after a big hit from Babineaux, and another pass went off his hands in the second half.


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And now onto the all-53-man review . . .



7-Nate Davis: Inactive as the No. 3 QB.


11-Alex Smith: He threw for a career-best 310 yards on 27-of-45 passing. He is generally showing more patience and is not afraid to hang in there and take a hit – when appropriate — to let the play develop. . . He had some nice throws that weren’t caught, and late in the game he overthrew a wide-open Jason Hill at the sideline on a play that would’ve put the 49ers at their own 30 with :40 remaining. . . Perfect pass dropped in over linebacker to hit Vernon Davis for 42-yard gain . . . saved touchdown when he made tackle of Josh Wilson in the fourth quarter after Frank Gore’s fumble. . . . See above for a more detailed look at a couple pass plays late in the game.


13-Shaun Hill: The No. 2 QB. He did not play.


15-Michael Crabtree: Started at split end . . . There were 12 passes that came his way. He made six catches for 60 yards. . . He was called for illegal block on end-around to Delanie Walker. . . . Drew pass-interference penalty on Marcus Trufant for a 28-yard gain with 3:53 remaining . . . See above for description of late-game incompletion at goal line.


21-Frank Gore: He carried just nine times for 25 yards, and had one costly lost fumble. He also caught five of eight passes thrown his way for 37 yards. . . He played every snap from scrimmage. . . Picked up blitzing Aaron Curry to enable Smith to hit Walker for 18 yards in first quarter. . . Did not get out quick enough to make block on Josh Wilson on receiver screen to Crabtree. The play resulted in 3-yard loss. . . Lined up as wideout and took quick pass from Smith, made Jordan Babineaux miss, and turned it into an 11-yard gain in the fourth quarter. . . Babineaux got him back when he punched the ball loose from behind for a game-altering fumble. . . Caught another pass for 6 yards when he was split wide to the left.


24-Michael Robinson: Did not play from scrimmage. Was called for an illegal block in the back on first punt return.  . .  Made good tackle of Burleson on punt return near midfield in third quarter.


29-Glen Coffee: Did not see any action on offense, but participated on special teams. He was credited with one assisted tackle.


44-Moran Norris: Saw only nine snaps of offense, as the 49ers went mostly with one-back formations. . . Missed blitz pickup on Deon Grant at the goal line to force Smith incomplete pass on third down play in first quarter.


Delanie.jpg46-Delanie Walker: Started as second tight end in the 49ers’ “12” personnel group and played 36 of the 49ers’ 58 snaps. . . . . Made nice moves behind the line of scrimmage to make two Seahawks miss and turn a loss into an 7-yard gain on an end-around . . . Good tackle on kick coverage near end of regulation. . . .He finished with three catches for 28 yards. . . . The only pass that came his way that he did not catch was the fourth-and-1 play on which it appeared Leroy Hill mugged him.


47-Brit Miller: Played on all special teams in his NFL debut. He was promoted from the practice squad to take roster spot of Curtis Taylor, who was placed on injured reserve last week. . . Credited with one tackle.


59-Cody Wallace: Inactive. He has yet to suit up for a game in his first two NFL seasons.


61-Chris Patrick: The backup at both tackle positions. He did not play.


62-Chilo Rachal: Started at right guard. Gave up penetration to Brandon Mebane, which forced Gore to cut back on a play that went for 1 yard in the first quarter. . . He must do a better job of sinking his hips and playing with leverage, but mostly did a good job.


64-David Baas: Started at left guard. Locked up defensive tackle Colin Cole on Smith’s 42-yard pass down middle to Vernon Davis in second quarter. . . . Mebane got a half-sack sack working against him. Baas shaded him to the inside, almost as if he were expecting a chip block from Gore.


65-Barry Sims: Started at left tackle. Worked against defensive end Daryl Tapp. . . Pulled made hit big block on Curry to spring Gore for 6-yard gain out of shotgun formation. . . called for a false start in the third quarter . . . Got run over by Mebane to stop Gore for 1-yard loss at the SF 2-yard line in third quarter. . . Held up well against Kerney in end zone, allowing Smith to hit Crabtree for 20-yard gain.


66-Eric Heitmann: Started at center. Handled defensive tackle Craig Terrill one-on-one to give Smith time to hit Vernon Davis on fourth-and-1 play for a touchdown. .. . Slow in picking up blitzing Leroy Hill but Smith got rid of the ball for a completion just in time on a 3-step drop. . . Mostly played very well.


68-Adam Snyder: Started at right tackle. Worked primarily against Patrick Kerney. . . Safety Jordan Babineaux worked to the outside on a third-quarter blitz, forcing Smith to step up and get sacked. Babineaux got credit for a half-sack. . . . One of his better games in pass protection.


69-Tony Wragge: Entered the game in a couple goal-line plays as a blocking tight end. Otherwise, he played special teams.


74-Joe Staley: Inactive after sustaining partially torn knee ligaments Nov. 1. He’ll return to practice this week and hopes to play Monday night against Arizona.


81-Brandon Jones: He took the blame for the fumble on the punt return, but it was not a great play all around. He still should’ve been able to secure the recovery, but missed it, and the Seahawks recovered at the SF 13-yard line. . . . One play after being called for a ticky-tack offensive PI, he made a really nice catch, reaching back and holding on after big hit from Deon Grant for 18 yards with 4:30 left in regulation. . . . It was his first reception of the season.


83-Arnaz Battle: Did not see any action on offense. He caught the ball cleanly on punt returns, but his stumble threw off the timing on the ill-advised punt-return-reverse that resulted in a fumble and game-changing play. . . . Officially, had minus-3 return yards on five returns . . . Had a 31-yard return nullified by a block in the back. . . Recorded a tackle on coverage unit.


84-Josh Morgan: Made catch at sideline, got both feet down and held onto the ball even with big hit from Lawyer Milloy in the end zone for 22-yard touchdown. . . . Slowed down to take handoff from Walker on double-reverse and got to the corner to turn it into a 20-yard gain . . . He caught six passes for 56 yards in the game . . . On 49ers’ final offensive play, he needed to do a better job going after the ball and becoming a defender.


85-Vernon Davis: Started at tight end. Caught six passes for 111 yards and a touchdown, but this game might be remembered most for the one that got away . . . Called for offensive pass interference to wipe out 7-yard pass to Walker . . . Made nice over-the-shoulder and outran
Vernon2.jpglinebacker Aaron Curry for a 33-yard touchdown in first quarter. . . . Beat middle linebacker David Hawthorne down the field for 42-yard gain. . . . Made a nice route adjustment to get open near the goal line late in the game but did not make the catch.


88-Isaac Bruce: Inactive. Was listed with ankle injury, but coach Mike Singletary also cited his lack of special-teams experience as a reason he did not suit up.


89-Jason Hill: Shared time as the No. 3 wideout with Brandon Jones. . . Hill had one pass thrown his way, and Smith airmailed a sideline route late in the game.




20-Keith Smith: He wasn’t just a late-game insertion into the lineup. He played about a dozen snaps. He was on the field for the third snap of the game as a sixth defensive back, replacing safety Michael Lewis. . . . Was trailing Seahawks rookie receiver Deon Butler on 32-yard pass play late in game that set up winning field goal.


22-Nate Clements: Inactive after sustaining broken left shoulder blade Nov. 1. Club believes he might return for final two games.


23-Marcus Hudson: Inactive after being on the injury report last week with a back injury.


25-Tarell Brown: Nice open-field tackle of punt-returner Nate Burleson to limit him to 2-yard return at end of first half . . . He played more than half the snaps as a nickel defender. . . He did OK, as the balls completed on him did not amount to much.


26-Mark Roman: Played a little more than half of the plays. . . .Dime back was trailing Deion Branch along back line of end zone on 7-yard TD pass on third-and-4 in the first quarter. . . . Called for an illegal block in the back that nullified Battle‘s 31-yard punt return in the third quarter. The 49ers started that series at the 5-yard line because of it. . . . Came up strong to make hard tackle of Julius Jones for 3-yard loss late in the third quarter.


30-Reggie Smith: He suited up but did not see any action on defense, and did not make any plays on special teams.


31-Dre’ Bly: Started at left cornerback . . . Did a good job in run support to force Jones out of bounds after only 4 yards in the third quarter . . . He did not have a great game in coverage, but he also did not allow any big plays down the field. . . . Hasselbeck hung up a deep ball to Burleson, who had Bly beat, but Bly recovered to make the play to break it up.


32-Michael Lewis: Started at strong safety. Because of his quadriceps strain, he came out a lot when the 49ers went with six defensive backs in sure-passing situations. . .  He came through untouched, getting past left guard Rob Sims, to sack Hasselbeck and caused a fumble in the second quarter to move the Seahawks out of field-goal range. . . He also had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and played very well.


36-Shawntae Spencer: Started at right cornerback, and had a very quiet day. . . . Spencer told me there were three passes thrown his way. I counted only two. He had great coverage on a deep ball to Deion Branch that fell incomplete. Then, he gave up a 4-yard pass to Burleson. That’s it.


38-Dashon Goldson: Started at free safety. He rebounded with a much better game against the Seahawks. I can’t come up with anything he did wrong. He was announced as the culprit on defensive holding to move Seahawks 5 yards closer with :18 remaining but I think the penalty was actually on Bly.


50-Diyral Briggs: Was inactive; coaches’ decision.


51-Takeo Spikes: Started at strong inside linebacker spot, and had a very strong game with nine tackles as he did a fine job of filling the hole and making the stop. . . . He also had a quarterback pressure.


52-Patrick Willis: Started at middle linebacker, and was all over the place with 16 tackles. Might have been responsible for Justin Forsett on screen play in second quarter that resulted in 8-yard TD on third and goal, as he was blocked out of the picture by center Chris Spencer. . . But he was pretty good in coverage, too, as he made the tackle on pass completions of 0, minus-2, 0, 2, minus-5 and 1 yards.


55-Ahmad Brooks: Replaced Manny Lawson in nickel situations for about half of the snaps. Put on a nice spin move against left tackle Sean Locklear for first-quarter sack and forced fumble. . . . Nice pursuit of Haseelbeck to stop him for 4 yards on third and 8 in the third quarter . . . He finished with four tackles and two hits on the QB.


56-Scott McKillop: Played special teams, and was involved on two tackles.


57-Matt Wilhelm: Played special teams, and made one solo tackle.


90-Isaac Sopoaga: Started at left defensive end. Did a nice job of making right tackle Ray Wills work to hold his blocks so that Patrick Willis and Spikes could make tackles. Sopoga was credited with two tackles.


91-Ray McDonald: Was used extensively as pass rusher in nickel situations. . . Did not get credit for anything but spun out of double-team block and was right there when Haralson made fourth-quarter sack. . . He had two QB pressures.


92-Aubrayo Franklin: Started at nose tackle, and did not have a big statistical game, but he did generally do his job of holding the point on run plays.


93-Demetric Evans: Played as part of the team’s defensive-line rotation. He saw only about a dozen snaps and had one tackle. It looked as if he did his job when he was in there.


94-Justin Smith: Started at right defensive end and played just about every snap in the game. . . . He got pretty decent pressure on Hasselbeck, but did not get any sacks while making a
JustinSmith.jpgcouple of tackles.


95-Ricky Jean-Francois: Suited it up for the third time this season but did not see any action.


96-Kentwan Balmer: Was inactive after missing practice all last week with a shoulder injury. . .


98-Parys Haralson: Started at weak outside linebacker . . . Forced Jones to bounce a run outside on a play that resulted in 3-yard loss. . . . Got off right tackle Ray Wills to make sack on Hasselbeck early in fourth quarter. That sack forced Seattle out of field-goal range. . . He played almost every snap, and had no noticeable negative plays.


99-Manny Lawson: Started at strong outside linebacker. On first play of Seahawks’ second possession, he overpowered fullback Justin Griffith for a sack, strip and recovery of Hasselbeck. . . . Beat Julius Jones, forcing Hasselbeck to dump it off to Jones, who was stopped for 2-yard loss by Willis. . . Undeterred by block attempt by tight end John Carlson to drop Forsett for 3-yard loss. . . He played about two-thirds of the teams plays and, while not perfect, he took advantage of times he was matched against smaller blockers.



4-Andy Lee: His foot stayed warm in the 35-degree temperatures, as he averaged 49.6 yards on nine punts with a strong 42.9 net average.


6-Joe Nedney: Used sideline to force Ben Obamanu out of bounds on 33-yard kickoff return in second quarter. . . . On four kickoffs, the Seahawks began their drives at the 26-yard line. . . .He also made a 34-yard field goal with 3 minutes remaining to pull the 49ers into a 17-17 tie.


86-Brian Jennings: He had a low snap on a Lee’s pooch-punt in the first half. . . . In the second half when the wind picked up, he made the proper adjustments to deliver the ball on the money to Lee.


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