The San Francisco 49ers lost to the Seattle Seahaws 30-23 at Lumen Field in Seattle on Sunday to fall to 6-6 on the season and drop to the seventh and final spot in the NFC playoff race. Interceptions, fumbles, and poor special teams play did the 49ers in as they were swept by Seattle for the second season in a row.
Here are the answers to the five questions I asked on Saturday
1. Can Kyle Shanahan build a successful game plan without Deebo Samuel? Yes and No
Over the course of the 49ers three game winning streak Kyle Shanahan’s offense averaged just over 178 yards per game. Deebo Samuel was a key cog in that number being so high.
With Samuel out on Sunday in Seattle, Shanahan’s offense could muster only 71 yards and 2.8 yards per rushing attempt.
Despite the running game struggling, the 49ers offense was able to move up and down the field against Seattle for most of the first half.
After going three and out to start the game, the 49ers offense would take advantage of a Seattle turnover when Jimmy Garoppolo hit George Kittle in the middle of the endzone with a 24-yard touchdown strike.
Following a turnover on an interception from Jimmy Garoppolo, the offense would end the first half with three straight scoring drives to take a 23-14 lead with 1:48 left to play in the half.
With the 49ers set to receive the kickoff to open the second half, San Francisco seemed to be ready to seize control of the game.
That never materialized as Seattle’s offense, aided by two San Francisco personal fouls, would go right down the field for a touchdown to close the gap to 23-21 and Travis Benjamin would lose a fumble while returning the kickoff to open the second half.
In the second half the 49ers found themselves backed up deep in their own end repeatedly, their five possessions starting at their own 3-, 8-, 30-, 8- and 2-yard line and the offense would be held scoreless.
2. Will Jimmy Garoppolo get it going in Seattle? Yes, but not enough
Sunday was another typical Jimmy Garoppolo performance. Some good. Some bad.
The first good came following a Seattle turnover on their own 24-yard line early in the first quarter. On the first play of the possession Garoppolo would find George Kittle for a touchdown to tie the game at seven.
On the first play of the next possession, we would get our first glimpse at the bad, as Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner would intercept a pass intended for George Kittle. The decision to go to Kittle wasn’t a bad one, but Garoppolo needed to hold the ball a beat longer and make the throw into the second window instead.
From that point on, Garoppolo was pretty solid finishing out the first half finding George Kittle while rolling to his left. Kittle would take the short pass the rest of the way for a 48-yard touchdown, tip toeing his way down the sideline.
The bad version of Garoppolo would rear its ugly head early in the second half as well. Following a 21-yard completion to Brandon Aiyuk to get the 49ers offense away from the shadow of its own goalline, Garoppolo would try to force a throw to George Kittle only to have it wind up in the arms of Seattle safety Quandre Diggs.
This interception was his second of the day on first down and easily could have been avoided. Kittle was well covered on the play, and Garoppolo had the running back open underneath for an easy checkdown.
In a last-ditch effort to tie the game up late, the 49ers would drive 95 yards primarily on the arm of Garoppolo. Facing third and goal from the three, Garoppolo’s pass would glance off the hands of Trent Sherfield who was well covered. Then on fourth down with the game in the balance, Garoppolo would have his pass batted down at the line of scrimmage by Seahawks defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
Garoppolo would finish the day completing 20 of his 30 attempts for 299 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
3. Will the 49ers defense be able to contain Russell Wilson? YES
Apart from one scramble up the middle for 12-yards, the 49ers defense did a good job on Wilson who would run the ball only three times for 15 yards in the game.
4. Can the 49ers secondary slow down Seattle’s passing attack? NO
After struggling in his first three starts coming off a finger injury on his throwing hand, Russell Wilson looked like he is almost back to his old self on Sunday completing 30 of 37 attempts for 231 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Wilson’s best throw of the first half may have been on the second to last possession. Facing third and 14 from the 49ers 37, Wilson would drop a dime in to D.K. Metcalf down the right sideline for a gain of 33-yards. Seattle would score from a yard out on a run by Adrian Peterson two plays later to cut the lead to 17-14.
In the second half, Wilson would give Seattle a lead they would never relinquish when he dropped another perfect pass in to Tyler Lockett from 12-yards out to go up 30-23.
5. Will the 49ers get caught looking past Seattle? YES
The mental lapses and self-inflected wounds that played such a big part of the 49ers lack of success through the first eight game of the season returned against Seattle, and they came from all three phases.
After a quick three and out, San Francisco seemed ready to get off to a fast start. One problem though. Seattle would call a fake punt, and the 49ers punt return unit was caught unprepared as Travis Homer would take the direct snap 73-yards for a touchdown to give Seattle a quick seven-point lead.
On the defensive side of the ball, they shot themselves in the foot with three personal foul penalties in the game. There were two on the final drive of the first half for Seattle that helped quickly move down the field for a last second score.
The third personal foul came on a key third down with 9:59 left to play. It appeared the 49ers had stopped Seattle short however Dontae Johnson would be called for a blow to the head of Seahawks tight end Gerald Everett. While Seattle would not score on the possession, this penalty allowed Seattle to run off nearly six more minutes of clock. Precious time the 49ers offense could have used at the end of the game.
And then there were the 49ers turnovers on offense. One of my questions the last three weeks had been if the 49ers would be able to hold on to the ball. I should have included that again this week.
The 49ers would only allow seven points off the turnovers, however the fumble to open the second half would lead to San Francisco being stuck deep in their end and a safety as well.
49ers 23 Seahawks 17