The list of mistakes made by the San Francisco 49ers in dropping their second game of the season to Seattle on Sunday probably resembles some of those being received up at the North Pole this time of year.
With that being the case, this week’s film review will focus on the five most critical errors made by the San Francisco offense.
Let’s start off with everyone’s favorite scapegoat, Jimmy Garoppolo.
1st and 10, San Francisco 23, First Quarter
On the first offensive play following a touchdown pass to George Kittle, Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first big mistake of the game. This is a simple play-action pass with only two receivers out on routes. Garoppolo’s first read, basically his only read on this play is the crosser to Trent Sherfield.
Garoppolo sees that Sherfield is going to be open and throws the ball too early. If Garoppolo holds onto the ball just a beat longer to allow Sherfield to clear the linebacker this is a big play. Instead, it’s the 49ers’ first turnover, and the defense bails them out by holding Seattle to a field goal attempt which goes wide right.
3rd and 8, San Francisco 8, Third Quarter
After a fumble by Travis Benjamin to open the second half, San Francisco’s defense comes up with a big turnover when K’Waun Williams grabs a deflection off the foot of Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett for an interception.
The downside of this exchange for the 49ers is they take possession of the ball on their own three-yard line.
Facing third and long, Kyle Shanahan calls for a pass and Jimmy Garoppolo is sacked by Carlos Dunlap for a safety.
There’s a lot going on with this play, so let’s break down the two major factors contributing to its failure starting with right tackle Tom Compton. At the snap of the ball Dunlap is able to strike Compton clean in the chest. This blow knocks Compton onto his backside and Dunlap gets ahold of Garoppolo’s collar to bring him down.
Now let’s look at the second factor in this play. Watching Garoppolo drop back you can see that he drifts to his right slightly. While this may not seem like much, that slight drift helps close the gap between the quarterback and the defensive player. Had Garoppolo dropped straight back, he may have been successful in his attempt to escape up the pocket to avoid the rusher.
1st and 10, San Francisco 35, Third Quarter
On the 49ers’ next possession following the safety, Garoppolo completes a 21-yard strike to Brandon Aiyuk to get San Francisco out of the shadow of their own endzone. In the next play, he makes his second big mistake of the game.
Garoppolo’s eyes on this play should go first to Trent Sherfield running the deep crossing route from right to left, then down to George Kittle running a dagger, down to Elijah Mitchell.
Sherfield is open on this play, but Garoppolo doesn’t see it and tries to force the ball to George Kittle. The pass sails high and is intercepted by Seahawks safety Quandre Diggs.
With this play coming on first down and Garoppolo not clearly seeing the picture in front of him, the smart play is to hit Mitchell on the checkdown and live to play another down.
3rd and 8, San Francisco 23, Fourth Quarter
Another play deep in San Francisco territory. Garoppolo finds Brandon Aiyuk open in the Seattle zone defense and hits him. While the pass is a little high, Aiyuk climbs the ladder and gets both hands on the ball.
As Aiyuk is coming down, former 49er defensive back D.J. Reed hits him in the back and Aiyuk is not able to hold onto the ball as he hits the ground resulting in an incompletion.
Instead of having the first down out near midfield, the 49ers are forced to put and won’t get the ball back again until only 4:03 remains in the game.
4th and Goal, Seattle 3, Fourth Quarter
San Francisco has driven the ball 95 yards on their final possession of the game. Following a close incompletion to Trent Sherfield on third down, Kyle Shanahan dials up another play with Sherfield as the primary target.
The routes play out exactly as Shanahan had drawn up, George Kittle takes the linebacker upfield which opens the hole for Sherfield who is wide open. As soon as Garoppolo sees the linebacker move with Kittle he makes the throw to Sherfield.
One problem. Right tackle Tom Compton has been pushed back for the second time on a key play by Carlos Dunlap who is able to get his hand up and knock the pass down at the line of scrimmage to seal the victory for Seattle.
Good play call by Shanahan. Good read by Garoppolo. Better play by Carlos Dunlap.