12th Man: Week 3 vs. 49ers Recap
Christine Michael took his first carry of the day to the house, and with that, the ass-whooping extravaganza I’d hoped for had begun. Seattle, a team notorious for painfully slow starts on offense, secured a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, which was solidly impressive, to say the least. This absolutely could’ve been another game where Seattle played down to their competition, but fortunately, it wasn’t. Seattle abused the 49ers on offense, defense, and even a little on special teams, where Tyler Lockett managed to rip off a 62-yard punt return.
The offensive line play was much improved, and not just because they were facing lesser competition. The run blocking and pass protection actually looked coherent, and Christine Michael certainly enjoyed the former to the tune of 106 yards (and his first two NFL rushing touchdowns) on 20 carries. Michael has been our best back without question through the first three weeks, and with Thomas Rawls set to miss another several weeks with a shin injury, it’s great to see him flourish with a legitimate workload. He has shown great vision and explosiveness as a runner, working his way downfield off the edges as well as in between the tackles. Russell Wilson took shots all day in the pass game, finding Doug Baldwin for 59 yards on a 3rd and 14 (three-man rush is for suckers), and Jimmy Graham for a ridiculous 40-yard grab in double coverage. The defense seemed to enjoy feasting on the 49ers, holding quarterback Blaine Gabbert to 119 yards through the air, and picking him off once, while delivering some mean hits against runners and receivers. The only points surrendered outside of garbage time, came on a field goal resulting from a Graham losing a fumble. Russell Wilson looked far healthier than he did against the Rams, until he sustained a gruesome-looking knee injury late in the third quarter. He would miss one snap before finishing that series, and being pulled for the rest of the game. In addition to the healing right ankle, Wilson now has a sprained left MCL to contend with and will be questionable for week four.
There… honestly is not very much to say about the 49ers here. As the game progressed, they began to look less like football players and more like soulless orbs in shoulder pads. They are clearly not a good team, and while they showed up to compete, the limited presences in the pass game and on the defensive side did very little to buttress that. In the run game, Carlos Hyde is a very talented back who managed to do some damage in garbage time (my fantasy team thanks him). The highlight of their limited pass game was the pass protection (0 sacks, 2 hits allowed), as Gabbert struggled to throw for every last one of those 119 yards, juxtaposing his own dearth of talent with receivers who were regularly covered.
While Cassius Marsh didn’t make the highlight play I had hoped for, a number of other Seahawks managed to catch my attention. Russell Wilson continued to impress throwing from the pocket, regularly getting the ball out quickly and trusting his receivers to do the rest. Doug Baldwin flourished playing with both quarterbacks (8 catches, 164 yards, 1 touchdown), shaking off an injury but the receiver who really stole my attention was Jimmy Graham (6 catches, 100 yards, 1 touchdown). He looked like the Jimmy Graham who played in New Orleans, making plays in double coverage, working defenders over, and being an all-around menace to the 49ers defense. Russ finally seems to have the comfort and trust with Graham needed to maximize his talent in this offense, and that will be huge going forward. Trevone Boykin was okay as the backup, throwing a touchdown to Doug Baldwin and an interception. He got the ball out quickly, which was good. I don’t fault Boykin for the pick, honestly. He’s a rookie, and he needs reps to improve. Aside from that, if Russ has to sit for a week? I’m likely to write that game off.
2-1. Time for the Jets.