Seahawks vs. 49ers: 4 Lessons Learned from Week 1 Matchup
The Seattle Seahawks lost a painful 33-17 game to their rival, the San Francisco 49ers, in their Week 1 matchup. The season opener was unkind to the new-look Seahawks as they were unable to complete their comeback against an NFC West foe.
The Seahawks almost came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit as they cut the 49ers lead to two points with just under four minutes remaining in the game. Two special teams touchdowns from Ted Ginn, Jr. slammed the door of opportunity closed.
A brutal stretch awaits the Seahawks as they will attempt to crawl into their bye week with at least one or two wins. Next up for the Seahawks are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Arizona Falcons, Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants.
Here are some takeaways from the disappointing season-opening loss.
1. Let Whitehurst Play
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Tarvaris Jackson has no business playing quarterback in the NFL. He has shown little or no improvements from his time in Minnesota. An aging and outcast Matt Hasselbeck now likens to a luxury car to Seahawks fans.
Unless the 'Hawks are playing for Andrew Luck, there is no reason not to give Charlie Whitehurst a chance. There is only so much potential in player and it looks like Jackson has reached his limit. Jackson completed an unimpressive 21 of his 37 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, as well as being credited with two lost fumbles.
His shining moment of the game came on a short pass to a wide receiver that did the rest of the work for a 55-yard touchdown. Jackson deserves some credit for making the decision and placing the ball right between the numbers, but he still fails to be able to place the ball down the field.
Whitehurst didn't dazzle last season, but whatever he has to offer could be better for Jackson. It was great the Seahawks provided Jackson with another chance, but the guy just doesn't have the arm or accuracy to be a good quality quarterback.
2. Offense Needs Gallery and Rice Back
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Having Robert Gallery back may not solve the problem, but it will provide much-needed strength to a weak offensive line. Most of the afternoon, Marshawn Lynch had absolutely no running lanes and the pass protection wasn't much better as Jackson was sacked five times.
Lynch is a physical runner but suffers from a lack of vision. In his time in Buffalo, he struggled from poor offensive line problems and was unable to find the small holes that formed. He has shown his ability in the open field like in the playoff game against the Saints.
With Sidney Rice out of the lineup, Jackson was missing one of his biggest threats and probably one of his most comfortable safety valves stemming from their time with the Vikings. When they get Rice back, this could help stretch the field, though Jackson's accuracy remains an issue.
With the injuries and new faces on the offensive side of the play, it will take the Seahawks time to gel, but for a team that hoped to repeat as division champs, they aren't afforded much time. They need to get their players back from injury as they prepare for some quality opponents.
3. Defense Is the Strength of the Team
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During the disappointing season opener, the Seahawks defense was the shining hope for the rest of the season. It gave up only 19 points to the 49ers offense and only surrendered 209 total yards on the afternoon. The unit's success was overshadowed by the inferior play of the other two.
Against the run, the Seahawks were extremely strong against the talented and always dangerous Frank Gore. When healthy, which he was, Gore is among the league's top 10 running backs and was completely shut down to the tune of 22 carries for an almost embarrassing 59 yards. The only success the 49ers had on the ground came from quarterback Alex Smith scrambling.
Against the pass, the defense handled a fairly accurate Smith and limited him to 124 yards through the air. It did a great job against the 49ers wide receivers, limiting them to six combined catches. The Seahawks did all of this without getting that much pressure on Smith as well.
The defense excelled on third down, leaving the 49ers with one third-down conversion out of 12 attempts for the game. A concern is that the defense failed to create any turnovers in such a dynamic performance, which hurt its ability to provide great field position for the offense.
4. Repeat Seems Highly Unlikely
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With so many new faces and a tough schedule, it appears a repeat in the division seems unlikely. The Seahawks have too much rebuilding to do this year and still need to find a viable option for a quarterback of the future.
The Rams, 49ers and Cardinals all look to have made improvements from last year's atrocity that was the NFC West. The Seahawks don't have that same look that the three other teams do. They brought in an extremely talented wide receiver and tight end and rebuilt their offensive line.
The Seahawks also have the misfortune of having first-place seeding from their division crown last season. Because of this, they have the Atlanta Falcons and the Chicago Bears on the schedule this season.
This season appears to be headed towards the disappoint department with the challenge of staying out of last place, but with Andrew Luck in the next draft class, maybe last place in the league's worst division is winning after all.