The 49ers fell into last place in the NFC West with a 28-21 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. San Francisco had a number of opportunities to bury Seattle in the first half, but an interception and missed field goal would keep the Seahawks in the game until Russell Wilson could get his feet underneath him.
When Seattle took possession of the ball with 4:48 left in the first half the 49ers had gained 209 yards of total offense to -12 yards for the Seahawks. And San Francisco’s lead was only 7-0.
On their second to last possession of the half Seattle’s offense would find the spark they were missing in running back Alex Collins. Wilson would open the drive off by finding Collins alone down the left sideline for a 28-yard completion. Collins would net nine yards rushing on the next two plays before Wilson would find D.K. Metcalf downfield for another 28-yard gain. Two plays later Wilson would hit Metcalf on a short post route for a 12-yard touchdown and the complexion of the game would completely change.
As the 49ers took the field to start the second half it was rookie quarterback Trey Lance, not Jimmy Garoppolo leading them onto the field.
After a quick four play series with only running plays led to a punt, Lance would get the opportunity to throw his first pass of the game on the next possession. On first down Lance would fake the handoff and roll to his right and with George Kittle wide open the rookie would throw the ball at the feet of the tight end for an incompletion. Two plays later on third down, Lance would throw the ball over the head of Deebo Samuel to end the possession.
Lance would struggle, going 2-7 for 87 yards and a touchdown before putting together a 13 play, 80-yard touchdown drive on the 49er’s final possession of the game. Lance would cap the possession off by finding Deebo Samuel for an 8-yard touchdown. While this drive had little bearing on the outcome of this game, they provided valuable snaps for Lance who will move into the starting role with Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined for next week’s contest in Arizona.
Let’s take a look at the answers to the burning questions that I asked on Friday to see how this game got away from the 49ers.
1. Can the 49ers defense contain Russell Wilson? No
San Francisco’s defense did a terrific job on Wilson in the first half, including three consecutive drives that ended with sacks on third down. But as usually the case with Wilson, he would get it going in the third quarter.
On Seattle’s first play of the second half Wilson would scramble to his right for a gain of 12. While that possession would end up in a punt, Wilson would continue to make plays on the following drive. On second and eight from the 49ers 16-yard line Arik Armstead would get too far inside and Wilson would take off to his left for a touchdown to put the Seahawks up 14-7.
2. Can the 49ers run defense step up? No
San Francisco did a very good job on Chris Carson, holding Seattle’s starting running back to only 2.4 yards per rushing attempt.
When Seattle brought in backup Alex Collins everything changed. Collins’ first touch of the game was a 28-yard reception and he appeared to be playing at a much higher pace than Carson, averaging 4.4 yards per attempt including a 14-yard run to put Seattle up 28-13 early in the fourth quarter.
3. Will the San Francisco secondary be able to corral Seattle’s passing attack? No
As with everything else in this game, the San Francisco secondary held up pretty well until late in the first half. D.K. Metcalf would be held to four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, but his 28 yard reception from Wilson late in the first half played a pivotal role in turning the game around for the Seattle offense.
Metcalf’s counterpart Tyler Lockett would be held to only 24 yards on four receptions with a long of 19 yards. Lockett had dealt with a hip injury during the week and it seemed to slow him down for most of this game.
Freddie Swain would get in on the action in this game as well. The Seahawks number three receiver for this game, Swain would haul in a 13-yard Wilson touchdown pass after the Seahawks quarterback was able to escape the grasp of a 49ers defender.
4. Will Jimmy Garoppolo be able to carry the 49ers’ offense? No
Early on it looked like Garoppolo would be up to the task as he hit all six of his attempts for 70 yards on the 49ers’ first possession, including a 21-yard touchdown throw to Ross Dwelley.
The success of that first possession was short-lived as Garoppolo could only manage to go 8-17 for 95 yards with an interception for the remainder of the first half.
Garoppolo would leave the game after the first half with a calf injury. According to Garoppolo, the injury occurred during the first 49ers’ possession of the game. Perhaps that had something to do with the fall-off in his play, but at this point, the injury issue with the quarterback is just a part of who he is.
5. Can the 49ers score more than seven points in the first half? No
The San Francisco offense put up 209 yards in the first half, and for the third week in a row, they could manage only a single touchdown.
Unlike the previous two weeks, the 49ers’ offense didn’t look inept throughout the early portion of the game. On the first series the offense would go right down the field on a 71-yard touchdown drive.
After a Jimmy Garoppolo interception ended the next possession, the offense would put together a 68-yard drive that would stall on the Seahawks 23. With kicker Robbie Gould out due to a groin injury punter, Mitch Wishnowsky be called upon to attempt a 41-yard field goal but he would miss it wide to the left.
From that point on the offense would stall for the majority of the game as Seattle would open up a two-touchdown lead which San Francisco would not be able to overcome.
Seahawks 27 49ers 24