49ers vs. Seahawks: 5 Things We Learned from Seattle's 19-17 Loss
They didn't get either, but Pete Carroll's team gave the home crowd an exciting game and a lot to look forward to.
Seattle will travel to play the Arizona Cardinals next week. Another road win on the season would give them a 4-4 mark on the road, which would be a marked improvement for a team that has struggled away from home.
They would also end the season with an 8-8 record, improving on their mark from Carroll's first season.
5. The NFC West Rivals, with Former Pac 12 Head Coaches, Don't Like Each Other
Exchange of Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh following a then-Pac 10 game...
When the NFL was realligned in 2002 the NFC West was formed by folding in teams from three different divisions. The result was creating a division that lacked any teams with a real rivalry history.
In the 10th season, the closes the division had seen to forming a rivalry was the Seahawks and the St. Louis Rams, as they are the only two teams that have battled for playoff slots and in the playoffs.
NFL history couldn't muster up a rivalry so it took a couple former college coaches with a history of their own to light the fire.
The Seahawks and 49ers hit, pushed, shoved, and drove opposing helmets into the ground during and after plays all game long. Some would call it chippy play but it went well beyond that.
The officials opted to let the teams play a physical brand of football instead of throwing flags for extra-curricular contact. It gave the game a feel of old-time football...and likely a preview of the kind of football teams can expect to see from the NFC West going forward.
Jim Harbaugh's predilection for abrasiveness has been well established thus far in his young NFL career.
Pac 12 fans likely know of his exploits while he was the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal as well.
Following a 2009 blowout loss to Stanford, Carroll asked Harbaugh "what's your deal? Are you alright?"
Harbaugh missed the point, saying "yeah, I'm good. What's your deal?"
Carroll took the loss and Harbaugh's lack of understanding with grace, telling him "nice game."
The issue was clear to most who watched the game. Holding a huge lead, Harbaugh seemed to rub salt in the would by completing a two-point conversion to complete a 55-21 win.
Carroll said there was no animosity after the game.
There was no frustration. The media said that. The guy on the other side of the sidelines gets to do whatever he wants in any situation. I have no problem with whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m not one of those guys that reacts and is going to gripe about how a guy coached a game or #mce_temp_url#played a game in the fourth quarter.
I’ve been in so many of those situations where people think you’re running the score up, or they think you’re not playing your guys to run the score up so that you can get recognition in polls and all that. A guy can do whatever he wants. Nothing fazes me about that.
Still, it is hard to believe that Harbaugh's brash personality and interactions don't rub the ever-positive Carroll the wrong way.
“I just find it very irrelevant and not very intriguing,” Harbaugh told Seattle reporters before the first game of the season. “It had little to do with the game then and it has very little to do with the game now.”
Perhaps it doesn't, Mr. Harbaugh. But it is hard to ignore the frigid nature of the non-handshake following the 2009 collegiate game, just as it is hard to not notice the animosity between these two squads has grown immensely this season.
Game on, as the NFC West finally seems to have a heated rivalry.
4. Seattle’s Defense Is Legitimate
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Granted, the San Francisco offense has had some issues moving the ball this season. However, they played well-above the Steeler defense last week and have scored often on other teams this season.
Some analysts have been reluctant to certify the Seahawks secondary as elite and the bookend to their run stoppers.
Without a dominant pass-rush, Seattle’s secondary has limited receivers most of the season. In fact, one could argue pass protection has improved even after losing their starting and second-string left cornerbacks.
Seattle’s main issue in pass defense continues to be covering tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Seattle will have to answer questions about the linebackers and another pass rushing defensive end this offseason.
But there is little question the defense has a solid core of productive, young players and significant depth.
3. Records and Streaks Were Made to Be Broken
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The San Francisco 49ers entered the game with a chance to go a second consecutive season of not allowing a rusher to reach 100 yards. They had also kept opposing teams from scoring a rushing touchdown so far this season.
Both of those streaks came to an end in Seattle.
Marshawn Lynch has finally found an offense he works well in, and the Seahawks have to be happy their decision to spend a late-round draft pick on Lynch is paying dividends.
Lynch came up just short of a touchdown in the first half with his knee touching the ground just before he was able to reach the ball across the goal-line.
A broken play on the next snap led to a Tarvaris Jackson scramble that also failed to reach pay dirt.
When given a second opportunity following a blocked punt, Lynch and the Seahawks wasted no time. His carry on first and goal led to the 49ers surrendering their first rushing touchdown of the season.
Lynch surpassed 100 yards later in the game ending another impressive streak by San Francisco.
One streak that wasn't broken was Lynch's scoring streak. He has now rushed for a touchdown in 11 straight games played.
2. The NFC West Will Be a Force in the NFC in the Years to Come
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Seattle had pulled to a two-point deficit late in the fourth quarter in the fist meeting this season. Two late special teams returns made the score lopsided, but Seattle could rationalize the breakdowns as they lost their two kick coverage specialists to injury during that contest.
The margin of victory led to much false-bravado with 49er fans. The Seahawks proved today that these two teams are very close on the field.
It is hard to ignore how tight the stat lines were in that game, and the same held true in Seattle.
Between the two teams they have victories over five expected playoff teams. Seattle beat the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants while the 49ers have victories over the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Both teams are being built around hard-nosed defense and a solid ground game. They have a tough attitude and will be able to compete with any team in the NFL on every given Sunday.
Some fans and analysts may still choose to call the NFC West the weakest division in football, but that is simply because they aren't paying attention.
1. The Seahawks Have Much to Be Proud Of, Despite the Loss
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It would have been easy for a team to fold after a 2-6 start to the season. Well, at least it would be easy for a team that isn't coached by Pete Carroll.
Aside from the coaching staff giving players a reason to believe they can win any game they enter, the front office has also blessed the Seahawks with a significant talent upgrade over the last two seasons.
There are definitely some things that still need to be addressed. The linebackers continue to struggle with covering tight ends. While normally a sure-tackling defense, at times they have lapses.
Young members of the secondary and the offensive line are still adjusting to how much contact they can get away with in the NFL.
The core of this team is young and talented, though. Carroll and John Schneider will need to resolve the running back position in the offseason, and also figure to look at a potential upgrade at quarterback.
The two lines were a particular concern headed into the season. The offensive line is now showing solid depth, while the defensive unit has seven players that can rotate in without a material loss of production.
Seattle has the best young safety tandem in the NFL, and their secondary is showing signs of being an elite unit...even without an aggressive pass rush.
Seahawks fans need to look at what this front office can do with another offseason. Bright options are certainly on the horizon...if not right in front of the them.