The season opener could not have gone much worse for the San Francisco 49ers Sunday afternoon in the Emerald City of Seattle.
Largely considered to be the consensus favorites to win the NFC West division, the 49ers entered Quest Field looking to avenge the only divisional loss they suffered last year (a 20-17 thriller that brought an end to a late-season playoff push for the 49ers).
Instead, they were soundly defeated 31-6 in Pete Carroll’s Seattle debut, after having dominated every facet of the game through much of the first half (except the scoreboard, of course).
The biggest issue was a lack of finish, a disheartening fact when you consider that “Finish” has become the offseason mantra of the 49ers.
Despite that prominent focus, the 49ers could not finish on Sunday. They could not finish blocks. They could not finish plays. They could not finish drives.
This all led ultimately to their inability to finish a game they dominated early on.
The biggest impediment was a lack of emotional control. Emotions can be a powerful thing in sports. If harnessed correctly, they can fire you up for a big game or help spur a late comeback.
But if you let your emotions take control of you, catastrophe can result. I doubt anyone would argue that the season opener was indeed a catastrophe for San Francisco.
In recent years, the 49ers have been guilty of letting circumstances beyond their control affect them adversely, allowing bad calls or tough breaks to get under their skin and rattle them out of their game plan.
Given the demeanor and swagger of the team throughout the offseason and preseason, I thought that perhaps they had finally matured such that this would no longer be an issue.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s opener showed the same immaturity and emotional fragility that has so plagued the team through the recent dark days for the franchise.
You can blame Alex Smith (and if you are a typical casual fan you probably will). You can blame Nate Clements.
You can blame Mike Singletary or Jimmy Raye. You can blame the referees.
You can blame the loss on anything you want, but an ounce of composure in the face of early adversity in this game could have yielded a very different outcome.
Here is a look at how emotions got the better of the 49ers in Week 1: