Tuesday, September 17, 2013

49ers Rewind - Seattle Edition


After having an opportunity to review the coaches film of the 49ers 29-3 loss to Seattle on Sunday night it is obvious that there is plenty of blame to go around, and a large share of that should fall on the shoulders of Colin Kaepernick.  The 49ers offense had opportunities to move the ball, but it was obvious from his first pass that it was going to be a struggle.

Facing a 3rd and 6 at their own 24 on the opening possession the 49ers run a play action pass with Kyle Williams running a streak and Bruce Miller into the flat.  Williams has a step on the corner, but Kaepernick makes the correct decision to go underneath to a wide open Miller for what should have been an easy first down conversion.  Instead Kaepernick's pass is off target and effectively tackles Miller short of the yard to gain forcing a 4th down.

After the 49ers get the ball back with a blocked punt, they move it down to the Seahawks 17 yard line. Facing a 3rd and 7, the 49ers spread out the field and Kaepernick has both Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore open, but instead pulls the ball down and scrambles up the middle for a gain of 8 and the first down.  While the outcome of the play was a positive for the 49ers, it was a sign of the trouble to come as Kaepernick was very skittish in the pocket and feeling pressure at times that wasn't there.

Finally, facing a 3rd and Goal the 49ers again spread the field, and Kaepernick has Davis open in a soft spot in the zone between the inside linebacker and cornerback.  Again Kaepernick's pass is off the mark and as a result Walter Thurmond is able to get in and make a play on the ball resulting in a tipped ball and interception, ending the 49ers best threat in the first half.  The wheels of the offense start to come off on the next possession.

On the night the 49ers dropped Kaepernick back to pass 34 times.  The Seahawks sent 5 or more rushers at Kaepernick only 4 times in the game, instead choosing to rush with 4 and challenge Kaepernick to beat them by throwing the ball into tight windows.  On those 4 plays that Seattle sent 5 or more he completed the pass on 3 of them.  On the other 30 drop backs against 4 rushers or fewer Kaepernick was able to complete only 10.  By the middle of the 2nd quarter Kaepernick was sensing pressure even when there was none, giving up on the play and escaping the pocket, and missing open receivers.  Their 3rd and goal play in the 3rd quarter when Kaepernick failed to throw to an open Kyle Williams on an inside play that the 49ers routinely run down by the goalline was just another example of this.
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For the second game in a row the 49ers had trouble getting the ground game going.  Some of that had to do with how the Seahawks defense attacked the run, and some of that had to do with poor run blocking.

An example both of these was evident on the first play of the game.  The 49ers came out with 22 personnel, two running backs and two tight ends, and lined up in a heavy run formation with both TE's on the end of the right side of the line.  The Seahawks countered by putting 9 in the box.  Even against that 9 man box the play was there, only to have either Mike Iupati or Bruce Miller miss their assignment as they both blocked the same guy, leaving the inside linebacker free to fill the hole and stop Gore for a 2 yard gain.

Early in the game the 49ers were able to consistently pick up 2, 3, 4 yards per rush, but they went away from it and ended the night with the running backs only touching the ball with rushes on 11 of their 51 plays.  For a team that is built on their running game that number is way too low, especially when the quarterback is struggling like Kaepernick was early on.
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The 49ers defense played very well in the first half.  They did a good job of minimizing the damage by allowing the Seahawks to score only 5 points in the first half.  The second half was a different story though, especially the 3rd quarter.  Coming out after the half the 49ers gave up 2, 10 play 80 yard touchdown drives that resulted in over 10 minutes being taken off the board and the game getting completely away from them down 19-3.  The worst play during this stretch was Aldon Smith losing his composure and taking a swipe at Seahawk right tackle Breno Giacomini, turning a 3rd down stop into a first down and extending a drive that would ultimately result in a Seahawk touchdown.

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