The fates had written the Seahawks comprehensive, yet uninspiring 24-13 win over the hapless San Francisco 49ers far earlier than Sunday’s 1:05 kickoff. From the moment last week’s loss against Atlanta concluded, all one had to do was slip into soft focus, as if searching for a schooner in a Magic Eye poster, to see the contours of this game take shape.
Softly gazing into middle distance.
Ah yes, some infuriating drops, made up for with some incredible contested catches from our receiving corps. Too many runs from Eddie Lacy, who nevertheless looked sporadically effective against the 49ers poor rush defense. Early special teams mistakes, that were atoned for as the game progressed. A comfortable win that nevertheless ended with some uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns.
This gave was as uneventful as it was inevitable. The whole affair was simultaneously peak-Seahawks in the form it took, and not-at-all-Seahawky in the utter absence of drama it evinced. Put another way? It was a boring-ass win over a trash-ass team.
Let’s break down what the hell happened:
• Sheldon Richardson is becoming the monster we’d hoped he’d become when he was acquired from the Jets for a second round pick and pours out one more 40 Jermaine Kearse. He was in the backfield over and over again, rocking 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard while also containing the run game. I think the Seahawks defensive line as a whole is very good right now (Michael Bennett had a throwback dominant game peppered with weird offsides penalties), though they still aren’t the devourers of worlds that they projected to be pre-season. Oh well, can’t have everyone be a devourer of worlds.
• In fact, really, right now on the Seahawks there is only one true deity of destruction: Bobby Wagner. Despite being unable to practice all week, Wagner was the best player on the field on Sunday, absolutely dominating the running and short passing games, while also grabbing what might well be the most ferocious interception in franchise history. I mean what the hell even is this?
Goddamn Bobby Wagner is strong. What a play. #Seahawks #SEAvsSF
Wagner was down by contact, but this is an incredible play. #GoHawks pic.twitter.com/nXLnMUmzQ1
— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 26, 2017
Look, there may be other solid Defensive Player Of The Year candidates out there not named Bobby Wagner. I don’t watch other teams closely enough to know for sure. Frankly, I don’t care. I refuse to believe anyone is playing better than Wagner right now, because he’s truly maxing out what an NFL linebacker can do.
• Is the Seahawks offensive line okay now? Here’s some charting Ben Baldwin has done to show how the Seahawks have pass protected against each opponent they’ve played, adjusted for how well those opponents get to the passer:
In the 3 games Duane Brown has played, Seattle's pressure rate allowed has been slightly above average, which is a *massive* improvement pic.twitter.com/bZM5MUMpHb
— Ben Baldwin (@guga31bb) November 27, 2017
Since Duane Brown has come to town the team is an average-ish unit. This is not that surprising; upgrading a back-up guard forced to play left tackle with a real above-average left tackle was bound to make an impact. With Joeckel and Brown starting alongside each other for the first time on Sunday, the pass blocking was downright good.
• Oh, and also Russell Wilson is a sack-avoiding wizard. There were two or three plays in this game where he was dead to rights, even by Wilson’s normal slippery standards. If Wilson can keep wriggling out of trouble AND the offensive line can keep blocking? Look out!
• Byron Maxwell did not look great on Sunday, but on the whole the absence of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor did not loom large. Credit San Francisco’s anemic offense. We’ll see how this looks going forward, though the team will be getting Shaq Griffin back soon, and potentially Deshawn Shead as well shortly thereafter.
• Jon Ryan had a really rough outing in the first half on Sunday, and I’m going to blame the wind because you’ll catch me blaming Jon Ryan for a really rough outing in San Francisco over my dead body.
• Blair Walsh missed another kick on Sunday, and there were reasons, but also, c’mon Blair. C’mon bud. I’m rooting for you. But you gotta meet me halfway, pal.
• The whole first half of the game was annoying. Watching it back knowing the final result, it was less agonizing than watching it live, but good lord were their opportunities to make big plays left on the field. At the same time there was never a moment of doubt that the game would diverge from its “frustrating yet comfortable” path.
Next week will be different. The Seahawks get the Eagles in Sunday Night Football. The Eagles, despite my brain’s unwillingness to assimilate all the supporting evidence, are good. They are. They are really good. They are by almost any measure the best team in the NFC. It’s weird, and I do not completely understand it, but they pose a serious challenge even in CenturyLink on a Sunday Night. The Seahawks are somehow both a very respectable 7-4 and on the outside of the playoff picture as things currently stand. They’ve blown two winnable games at home (against Washington and Atlanta) that could have changed the trajectory of their season. Hopefully they don’t do it again on Sunday.