For a time, it seemed as if the San Francisco 49ers were trapped in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Similar to the movie, things quickly turned ugly for the 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks. What began as a close contest, soon morphed into a disaster for the 49ers on both sides of the ball. The loss keeps San Francisco in the basement of the division and further hurts the team’s chance at a playoff berth. Today we take a closer look at Sunday’s abysmal performance and highlight the three main takeaways from the San Francisco loss.
Shana-handed His Lunch
For Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco offense, consistency has proven elusive. The offense will look innovative and explosive one week, then bland and predictable the next. Following a dominant performance last week, the San Francisco offense laid an egg in Seattle. Shanahan effectively killed the first drive with a wildcard attempt with running back Jerick McKinnon at quarterback. The zone-read resulted in a three-yard loss and a punt. That play served as the last instance of creativity on offense for the 49ers. Missing from Sunday were the jet sweeps and quick tight end screens. San Francisco entered Sunday without wide receiver Deebo Samuel. It seemed to hold back the entire offense. The 49ers had a single issue-free drive in the first half, resulting in a touchdown. San Francisco would struggle for the next two and a half quarters.
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After the touchdown, the Seahawks moved to blitz often. Sadly, the 49ers were unable to counter the Seattle change in strategy. Seattle played games upfront on blitzes, confusing the interior of the line. The greatest benefactor was Seattle linebacker, Bobby Wagner. A stalwart of the Seattle defense, Wagner and the Seahawks focused their pressure in the A-gap of the offensive line. Seattle preyed on the inexperience of center Hroniss Grasu and running back Jamycal Hasty. On a first-half sack, Wagner sped past Grasu’s right arm and engulfed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. San Francisco had no answer to the Seahawks’ pressure. As much as Shanahan outcoached Bill Belichick and Sean McVay in the previous two games, he was summarily outclassed by Pete Caroll’s bunch on Sunday.
.@Bwagz is DANGEROUS.
He comes after Jimmy Garoppolo for our second sack of the day! 💥
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 1, 2020
Garoppolo on a Pike
Jimmy Garoppolo is not healthy. He left Sunday’s game near the end of the third quarter with a re-aggravation of his ankle injury. Prior to that, Garoppolo continued with his accuracy issues while showing signs of uneasiness with his right ankle. Garoppolo missed an open George Kittle on consecutive drives. The first led to an incompletion. Garoppolo’s second missed pass resulted in an interception in the red zone. On a slant route for Kittle, Garoppolo threw behind his tight end and into the hands of DJ Reed. Those two passes were far from the only issues for Garoppolo. On multiple occasions, the quarterback’s passes lacked zip. A few plays prior to the interception, Garoppolo threw a duck of a pass to tight end Ross Dwelley. tough to make accurate throws when a quarterback is unable to plant his feet and push off his back foot.
49ers QBs today:
Jimmy Garoppolo: 84 Pass Yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Nick Mullens: 157 Pass Yards, 1 TD, 0 INT pic.twitter.com/52ZoHyLznP
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 2, 2020
During the interception, Garoppolo’s feet never got set. Like a toddler, yearning to find a bathroom, Garoppolo danced while processing his reads. On a second-quarter drive, Garoppolo missed an open Brandon Aiyuk on a slant route. The play lends itself to a couple of critiques. It was a combo route with Kyle Juszczyk and Aiyuk. The fullback ran towards the flat with Aiyuk coming inside. Juszczyk flashed open but Garoppolo looked set on Aiyuk. Regardless of the read, Aiyuk was open and an accurate and on-time throw would have resulted in a 10-yard gain. However, the ball was too far in front of Aiyuk. At this point, Shanahan should give Garoppolo the next few weeks off and allow the bye week to heal up their quarterback. That gives the 49ers a final stretch of game with a hopefully healthy quarterback and a chance to push for a season-ending turnaround.
KO by DK
It’s interesting how much can change in a year. In 2019, the 49ers defense were able to contain Seattle’s D.K. Metcalf. The talented wide receiver averaged six receptions and 75 receiving yards through the two matchups. However, Metcalf’s growth showed on Sunday as he was the hot receiver. Russell Wilson leaned on his second-year wide receiver, connecting on 12 of his 15 targets of Metcalf. Primarily covered by Emmanuel Moseley, Metcalf added 161 receiving yards and two scores. It was his size and speed which vexed the San Francisco secondary. After a Garoppolo interception, the Seattle offense came to life and capitalized when Metcalf took a pass over the middle and sprinted to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown. On the play, Metcalf’s speed took the 49ers by surprise as their angles quickly closed and Metcalf went nearly untouched after making the reception.
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Metcalf’s size helped secure Seattle’s second touchdown. Near the goal line, Wilson keyed on his big-bodied receiver on a slant route. Metcalf boxed out safety Jimmie Ward for the touchdown. Where last season saw Moseley enter and slow down Metcalf, Sunday’s matchup told a different story. Moseley led the team in tackles with ten, nearly all of them coming after a Metcalf completion. If Metcalf has any less dominant performance, we’re likely in a different conversation after the game. While the defense was far from the biggest issue on Sunday, Robert Saleh’s bunch had a rough stretch when the game needed them to hold.
DK METCALF IS TOO FAST FOR THE 49ERS 💨
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 1, 2020
San Francisco suffered more than just a lost game. Reports on Monday afternoon revealed injuries to George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo. Kittle is believed to have a fracture in his foot and could be out for eight weeks. Garoppolo re-aggravated his ankle injury and could be out for the same length of time. It is a short turnaround as the 49ers are hosting the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. It might be asking too much to expect Shanahan and the 49ers to rebound and get the victory. At this point, the season does not look good but the 49ers are left with their backs against the wall. The effort isn’t the issue for San Francisco, instead, the concern is whether the roster has enough talent available.
– Ryan Adverderada is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage 49ers. He also covers the Arizona Cardinals for Full Press Coverage. Like and follow on Follow @ryanadverderada