Statistics Through Week 2
Points per game: 18.5 (#24 in the NFL) previous week: 34 (#3)
Yards per game: 350.5 (#18) previous week: 494 (#2)
Passing yards (per game): 255.5 (#18) previous week: 404 (#3)
Rushing yards (per game): 95.0 (#17) previous week: 90 (#12)
3rd-down conversion rate: 40 percent (#13) previous week: 50 percent (#7)
Red zone scoring rate (TDs): 42.86 percent (#24) previous week: 60 percent (#15)
Points per game: 28.5 (#27) previous week: 28 (#23)
Yards per game: 337.5 (#13) previous week: 385 (#22)
Passing yards (per game): 220 (#10) previous week: 322 (#25)
Rushing yards (per game): 117.5 (#24) previous week: 63 (#6)
3rd-down conversion rate: 34.62 (#11) previous week: 40 percent (#15)
Red zone scoring rate (TDs): 70 percent (#23) previous week: 100 percent (#22)
Turnover margin: -2 (3 takeaways, 5 giveaways)
Penalties per game: 11.5 (#31)
Penalty yards per game: 103 (#31)
NFC West Standings
What It Means
The 29-3 loss in Seattle brought many of the team's basic statistics back to the middle of the pack, as expected. There was no area offensively which the 49ers excelled Sunday night leading a drop in their respective numbers after the explosive performance in the first game against the Packers.
We added turnover and penalty numbers this week because they have become an important area to follow after two games. San Francisco is simply committing more penalties than any well-coached team should. Expect discipline to be a point of emphasis this week after Seattle clearly found ways to get underneath the team's collective skin leading to number of key personal foul penalties that played a role in the game getting out of hand.
In 2011, the 49ers forced 38 turnovers in the regular season (2.4 per game) while committing just 10. It's no coincidence that team finished 13-3. Through two games in 2013, San Francisco has a negative differential after giving the ball away five times against the Seahawks – a stark contrast from their zero-turnover performance in Week 1. It's a small sample size, but it remains a statistic to watch going forward.
The 49ers' defense is still one of the top units in the league and didn't play poorly in Seattle. The Seahawks were able to take advantage of five turnovers that led to 13 of their 29 points (two came on a safety) making the defense directly responsible for just 14 points. San Francisco ranked second in the NFL in points allowed in 2012 by allowing just over 17 per game in the regular season.
Aldon Smith's 3.5 sacks through the first two games mark the best start of his young three-year career. Since coming into the league in 2011, he leads all players with 37 sacks, two ahead of Jared Allen and four ahead of DeMarcus Ware. Smith played like the best player on the field in Seattle, hurrying Russell Wilson four times, hitting him once and registering a pair of sacks. As long as he maintains this level of production, he'll remain in the discussion for defensive player of the year.
Strong safety Donte Whitner is having a resurgent season in pass coverage in the early going. In the playoffs last year, Whitner was a regular target of opposing quarterbacks, allowing a pair of scores in coverage during the divisional round and Super Bowl. He finished 2012 with quarterbacks having a 130.6 rating when attacking him in coverage.
Through two games in 2013, that number has been lowered to 85.4 and his two pass deflections are well ahead of his pace of four from last season.
Justin Smith is having another solid season, which is no surprise. He's looked healthy and has stood well in against the run and the pass. Despite not having any sacks, he's been tough to handle for opposing linemen with seven QB hurries, second only to Smith.
With Ian Williams' broken ankle that will sideline him for the rest of the season, Glenn Dorsey has looked like a capable replacement. He's done exactly what the team has asked by clogging up space against the run allowing the team's talented middle linebackers to roam free.
The 49ers will likely need a nose tackle for just half of their defensive snaps going forward as they will continue to rely mostly on the nickel package, which might mask the impact of Williams' injury. But the front office will keep looking to add depth to the position. Fifth-round pick Quinton Dial figures to be an option after he's eligible to return from the reserve/non-football injury list after Week 6.
Ian Williams was officially added to the injured reserve Tuesday and the team signed fullback Owen Marecic to take his place on the roster.
Areas to Improve
Coming off the disastrous performance in Seattle, Colin Kaepernick and the offense need to regain traction from Week 1. It starts up front with the offensive line that was thoroughly dominated Sunday night in both the running game and passing game. The Seahawks were able to disrupt the 49ers' offense by using the blitz sparingly and beating the group in one-on-one matchups.
Most problematic Sunday was the play of left guard Mike Iupati in the passing game. He allowed six QB hurries and a hit to Kaepernick against the Seahawks' talented defensive front.
The running game has to improve as well. Both Seattle and Green Bay have loaded the box in an attempt to make San Francisco's offense one-dimensional. Frank Gore's 60-yard total is his lowest mark for rushing yards in back-to-back games since his rookie season. Running backs have rushed for a combined 81 yards through two games.
It's still too early to label the 30-year-old "done" considering the play of the offensive line in the running game. But if he continues to be ineffective San Francisco will start giving more carries to the explosive Kendall Hunter.
For whatever reason, Hunter's first and only carry Sunday night didn't come until the game was well in hand for the Seahawks. As the 49ers look to reinvigorate the non-existent running game heading into Week 3 against the Colts, look for Hunter's role to expand. LaMichael James could also return from his knee injury and add a different dimension to the offense in need of play makers. James averaged 5.9 yards per carry in the playoffs last winter.
Indianapolis (1-1) is coming off a disappointing 24-20 loss at home to the Miami Dolphins Sunday. The team hasn't been very impressive after making the playoffs last season opening 2013 with a four-point win over the Raiders at home.
The defense has struggled to stop the run, allowing 136 yards per game, which could bode well for San Francisco. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor gashed Indy for 329 total yards with 112 coming on the ground over 13 carries. Last week Ryan Tannehill passed for 319 yards and had a 107.4 quarterback rating.
The 49ers should be desperate to get the Seattle game out of their system and they'll have an opportunity against the Colts, who come in as a considerable underdog.
Sunday's game is a must-win because San Francisco has a quick turnaround next week when they have to go to St. Louis for a Thursday night game. Historically, road teams struggle with such a short week. Pair that with the recent success the Rams have had against San Francisco, and Week 4 turns into a very tough game.
To be sure, for the 49ers to stay close to Seattle for the division crown, they will want to go into St. Louis with a 2-1 record rather than face the threat of starting off the season 1-3.
*Statistics from Pro Football Focus were used in this report*
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