After re-watching the game on Thursday, here are some deeper film notes on the 49ers 19-3 loss to the Seahawks upon further review:
-Colin Kaepernick has received the most criticism for this loss and rightfully deserves it. The lack of a passing game removed any chance that the running game could be successful. What stood out was the staring down of his receivers throughout the game. On the first interception to Richard Sherman, he stared down Brandon Lloyd and the opposition saw that all the way. Had the throw been outside, there was a chance it would be caught.
Sherman was targeted four times and none of them proved to be successful. In the NFC Championship game, he was targeted once, which was the infamous interception intended for Michael Crabtree. It felt as if Kaepernick forced the ball towards certain receivers in his reads, not progressing in vision. There were times that Carlos Hyde, Stevie Johnson and even Lloyd were open, but Kaepernick didn’t see them when needed.
By my count, there were two coverage sacks where he could have thrown it away or escaped the pocket. It’s always talked about how he has the physical tools to succeed, but the decision making and progression have not improved where it showed on Thursday.
-On a more positive note, I thought Aaron Lynch had a decent game on Thursday. He still brought pressure at times to Russell Wilson and made sure no one got behind him.
-Chris Borland may have had 16 tackles, but he didn’t have the greatest game against the Seahawks. He had a few good stops, but the Seattle was able to block him more times than not and he was forced to tackle Marshawn Lynch down field, rather than at the line of scrimmage. There were a few plays where Borland missed Lynch altogether. This doesn’t take away from Borland’s 2014 season, but the Seahawks contained him for most of the game despite the tackles.
-The only touchdown of the game by Robert Turbin was a play of complete miscommunication in coverage. Michael Wilhoite, Chris Borland and Chris Culliver all picked up Jermaine Kearse when the latter needed to look at Turbin. Seattle lined up Marshawn Lynch as a WR on the right, drawing the 49ers to put more attention on him from Perrish Cox. Culliver committed to Kearse where he was out of position to make a play. Nobody accounted for Turbin out of the backfield and only looked at the receivers lined up in zone coverage.
-While the 49ers themselves lost, two ex-49ers players succeeded against them. Ricardo Lockette was initially a practice squad WR who briefly trained with Colin Kaepernick before being cut in the 2013 offseason. He signed with Seattle and became a special teams contributor. On Thursday, he knocked the ball out of Perrish Cox’s hands during a punt and gave the Seahawks field position.
The other ex-49er to make an impact was Demarcus Dobbs, who was cut in favor of a returning Glenn Dorsey. In the first quarter, he made two big plays in stopping the run and a tackle for loss, which set up the first interception by Kaepernick. There aren’t any regrets in both guys being cut, but the Seahawks have found ways to utilize them to their strengths.
-Penalties and officiating was inconsistent, but it wasn’t the reason as to why the 49ers lost. The point of emphasis affected the Seahawks twice where there were flags on what were bordeline calls. The first was an offensive pass interference on Turbin which the referees determined he put in a pick to create space for Paul Richardson. That play had incidental contact and officiating should have let them play because of the miscommunication in the 49ers coverage.
The second was a defense holding on Richard Sherman which gave the 49ers a first down. On the other hand, the Seahawks should have been flagged for a face mask on sack, where Bruce Irvin held the bottom of the helmet. There are other things that can be nitpicked, but overall it was clear who was the better team.
-The largest concern from this 49ers loss, was the lack of urgency from the offense. At the end of the second quarter, there was no hurry up feel on offense and the 49ers took their time. In the fourth quarter, the same thing happened as the team was down by 16 points with eight minutes to go.
There was no hustle or quick plays calls leading to a Seahawks defense prepared for anything. Sherman eventually intercepted Kaepernick for the second time and it’s as if the plays were tipped. If the 49ers are going to keep having a lackluster approach when trailing, that won’t cut it for when it matters most.