San Francisco 49ers: Grading the Week 16 Loss
I know a lot of guys in red and gold who are getting lumps of coal Christmas morning. My goodness was that an unbearably ugly performance against the Seattle Seahawks. It is amazing to see the San Francisco 49ers absolutely dominate in New England seven days ago, only to turn around and lay an egg against a divisional rival.
The 42 points given up by the 49ers' No. 1 defense and injuries to Vernon Davis and Mario Manningham seem to be more worrisome than the loss itself.
But fans have to be troubled: Are the 49ers going to miss out on home-field advantage and a first-round bye? Will the unthinkable happen? Will the 49ers lose again next week to Arizona and surrender the division to the Seahawks?
We can only hope Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the squad bounces back a week from now and pummels the hapless Cards to secure the NFC West.
Here is my report card for the 42-13 loss to Seattle in Week 16:
Passing Game: D+
What else is there to say? Kaepernick looked terrible, the play-calling was awful, overall execution was abysmal. Throw in the fact that Davis and Manningham both went down with injuries and the rain made for a multitude of drops, and you're looking at an ugly game.
Kap went 19-of-36 for 244 yards, one touchdown in garbage time and one interception. His rating of 72.0 didn't accurately portray how poorly the second-year QB actually played.
Outside the box score, his clock management was awful—something usually forgiven in Seattle because of the extremely thunderous "12th Man." His reads were off all night, and most of his audible calls ended up being the wrong call.
Awful, no-good, very bad game all-around from the passing game.
Running Game: F
Normally, I'd say amassing 82 yards on the ground against such a stout defense as Seattle's would be cause for celebration. But my temperature is still boiling, 24 hours after the final whistle. Why? I'm sure many of you share my frustration.
Kap carried the ball seven times against the Seahawks. Frank Gore carried it six times. There is absolutely no reason why, in a game on the road and in the rain, you don't give the ball to your elite ball-carrier at least 15 times.
More to come on this issue in the coaching slide. For now, we'll focus on the 82 overall rushing yards, 28 by Gore. The offensive line was doing an okay job, though the Seattle pass rush was pretty feisty most of the night.
Front 7: C-
You know things are going bad when even the most ferocious front seven in the NFL is getting pounded all night. There is no doubt that the loss of Justin Smith last week is really hurting this unit. But it still shouldn't have been this bad.
Patrick Willis had an interception off a tip, but that was a case of being in the right place at the right time. And the 49ers didn't capitalize off of the nice field position. Willis, Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks combined for a total of seven tackles in this game.
Marshawn Lynch is a beast of a runner—hence the nickname Beast Mode—but his 111 yards on the ground were nothing. He set the tone for the blowout on their first drive when he took a long run into the end zone through the left side of the line without being touched.
Most of the starters had a pass defended, but overall the effort wasn't fantastic. Russell Wilson made it look easy against this unit, but who wouldn't with perfect field position, no QB pressure and a dominant running game all night.
Wilson only had to throw 21 passes and only racked up 171 yards. He completed 71 percent of his passes, though, and most were to wide-open receivers. The entire defense really broke down from the start of the game, and Wilson had no problem slicing and dicing from there.
Aside from Willis' mostly fluke interception and a couple very solid plays by Dashon Goldson, it wasn't a good night for the Niners secondary. Exhibit A was Wilson's touchdown pass over Carlos Rogers that was put in a perfect spot in the second half.
Special Teams: B-
It's a sad, sad day when the struggling special teams unit is the brightest spot of a 49ers performance. Andy Lee had a standard, dominant game with his right foot, and Akers was surprisingly good from the left. He nailed a 54-yarder through the pouring rain, which shocked everyone.
Unfortunately, Akers also had a chip-shot field goal blocked in the first half that was returned for a touchdown by Richard Sherman. The coverage unit didn't play as well as usual, but they were up against the dominant Leon Washington.
Lastly, LaMichael James had another good game returning kicks. Well, until he and Delanie Walker got mixed up on a kick late in the game that they fumbled and almost turned into a Seattle takeaway. Overall, a disappointing, but not terrible performance by the special teams unit.
I don't even want to, but I have to. Let's play Good, Bad and Ugly with the 49ers' coaching staff from this loss.
This part took quite a bit of brainstorming, since most of the effort was rubbish. I guess the best I can say is that the secondary played quite well in light of the big hole they were put in. That's generous, though.
Pretty much everything. The play-calling on both sides of the ball was atrocious in this game. That being said, Kaepernick made a lot of bad audibles too. But this has become a theme this year and could sink them in the playoffs.
Gore ran the ball six times. Six. As in three carries per half. He is one of the best players in the NFL, in a must-win game in sloppy, no-pass conditions, yet he wasn't given a chance in hell. End, rant.
And yes, it's generous again. Kaepernick had by far his worst performance of the year, Gore wasn't even a factor, the special teams struggled again, the defensive line very obviously missed Justin Smith and the play-calling was among the worst it's been in Jim Harbaugh's tenure.
This was no way for the 49ers to celebrate their coach's 49th birthday. But even more worrisome for them and the fanbase is whether or not this slump will carry into the postseason. If the 49ers play the way they did in Seattle next week, they will more than likely lose the division title.
If they lose the division title, they will fall to the fifth seed and play the winner of the NFC East, on the road in the first round. Nobody would be comfortable with that. Here's to hoping the 49ers figure it out and bounce back next week to carry some momentum into the playoffs.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @Jamblinman.
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