MMQB: Seahawks 23, 49ers 3

Seattle soundly thumped a floundering 49ers team, accenting a workmanlike offensive performance with a smothering defense, and reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the NFC West. Considering that the Seahawks were swept by San Francisco last year, this win was as important as an early season game can be.

Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 3
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Monster Park, San Francisco, California

Play Of The Day:  Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard split center Eric Heitmann and guard Larry Allen to steamroll into the backfield and sack San Francisco QB Alex Smith on the 49ers first drive of the game, setting the tone for what would be a long afternoon for the 49ers.  Smith would leave the game after the play with a shoulder injury and would not return. 

Handouts to the StandoutsLinbacker Julian Peterson, whose three sacks and two forced fumbles don't even begin to tell the tale of how dominant he was against his old team.  Peterson was a constant presence in the San Francisco backfield, disrupting play after play and forcing early throws all game long. When he put his hand down at the line, he was unblockable. Cornerback Marcus Trufant, who picked off two Trent Dilfer passes and made several other solid plays in coverage that kept the 49ers passing game almost totally neutralized.

Seattle's offensive line - Walter Jones, Rob Sims, Chris Spencer, Chris Gray and Sean Locklear, who gave Matt Hasselbeck all day in the pocket to go through his progressions and find the open receivers. Deion Branch had a huge game, racking up 130 receiving yards, including a 64-yard bomb that led to the Seahawks, first touchdown of the game.

Things That Made Me Go "Blech":  Cornerback Jordan Babineaux's poor blocking leading to a blocked Ryan Plackemeier punt.  Ultimately the block didn't cost Seattle any points, but against a better team, it's exactly these kinds of metal lapses that can cost the team a victory.

The offense's inability to get anything going until the second quarter, yet again.  Seattle has scored a paltry seven total points in the first quarters of the first four games of 2007.  The Seahawks have to get off to a stronger start than that, or they'll be in real trouble when they face some of the NFL's better teams later in the season.

Offense:  Matt Hasselbeck finished the game 23-31 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, although Matt, once again, seemed to be quite rusty out of the gate, throwing several ill-advised passes that very easily could have been picked off but were dropped by 49ers defenders.  Hasselbeck settled down as the game wore on completing a long strike to Deion Branch followed immediately by a strike to Bobby Engram for the first touchdown of the game.  Hasselbeck would later hook up with tight end Marcus Pollard for his second touchdown pass of the game.  Matt's sole interception came on a long play-action attempt to Deion Branch, who was racing down the right sidelines.  San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements was with Branch stride for stride and made a nice play on the ball.

Branch was every bit the receiver the Seahawks traded a first round draft pick for last year, hauling 7 passes for 130 yards including a beautiful 31-yard sideline dash on third down towards the end of the first half that kept a scoring drive alive. 

Shaun Alexander carried the ball 25 times for 78 yards and seemed to be unaffected by his broken wrist.  Still, at the end of the game, it was Maurice Morris who was given the rock to run out the clock.  Fullback Leonard Weaver saw a bit more time as a situational back than he had in previous games, hauling in 4 passes and rushing 3 times for 32 combined yards.

Pollard made the most of his two catches, hauling one in for a key first down and the other for his first touchdown as a Seahawk.

It's hard to overstate how dominant the Seahawks offensive line was in pass blocking over the course of the afternoon, although the team did appear to still have problems trying to run up the middle. 

Defense:  Seattle's linebackers played a fantastic game, with Lofa Tatupu leading the team in tackles for the fourth straight game, Leroy Hill continuing his run-stopping dominance with 6 tackles and 3 assists including a great stuff of RB Frank Gore deep in the backfield, and, of course, Peterson, who enjoyed a superlative game racking up 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.

Bernard's aforementioned sack was just one of several great plays made from the interior of the line.  Both Daryl Tapp and Patrick Kearny picked up sacks as part of a Seahawks line that was constantly up in Trent Dilfer's grill. 

Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings effectively shut down the San Francisco wideouts, allowing safeties Brian Russell and Deion Grant to move up in run support and blitz on obvious passing downs.  Two of Julian Peterson's sacks were a direct result of running backs having to block a blitzing Grant in the middle of the pocket freeing up Peterson's rush from the outside.

I'd like to give special credit to defensive coordinator John Marshall who did not fall back into a soft zone with a 20-point lead in the early fourth quarter.  Instead, Marshall stuck with what was working all game long … pressure.  The Seahawks continued to bring the heat and, as a result, the 49ers didn't even sniff a comeback attempt in the game.  Good defenses don't sit back in zone coverage against backup quarterbacks, and the Seahawks have, at least through the first four weeks, a very good defense.

Special Teams:  Kicker Josh Brown was money from the field, booting through all three of his field goal attempts, and forcing two touchbacks on kickoffs.  P Ryan Plackemeier had one punt blocked and had another beautiful goal line kick go in for a touchback because there was, inexplicably, no Seahawk player anywhere near the goal line, despite a great high bounce at the three yard line.  Nate Burleson once again fielded a punt inside the five, and, once again, he made the most of it by returning it outside the 20 yard line, but someone has got to discourage him from doing this.  If fact, it appeared that someone must have talked to him on the sidelines, as he let the next kick inside the 10 bounce into the endzone for a touchback.  Josh Wilson made two solid tackles on punt coverage that won't make the highlight reels on Sportscenter, but are exactly the kinds of unheralded plays that can make a difference in a close game.  But lets not sugar-coat it, losing a surprise onside kick and allowing a blocked punt don't add up to an acceptable outing for the special teams.

Additional Notes:  Whatever happened to the days of great beer commercials?  Between the vomit-inducing Coors Light press conference commercials (how can they manage to make Dennis Green's "crown their ass!" meltdown unfunny?) and Miller Lite's insipid "The Commish" campaign, I'm actually thinking of switching to Chardonnay in protest. On the flip side, they are the only commercials aired during football that don't feature Peyton Manning, so they can't be all bad, right?

Did anyone else notice that on one of Trufant's interceptions, he made the play because Darrell Jackson didn't come back to the ball?  When you watch the replay, it doesn't appear that Mr. Jackson made much effort to tackle Trufant after the pick, either. 

Seattle brought the house on several occasions, displaying confidence in their corners, and were rewarded with six sacks and two interceptions.

The Golden Microphone Award:  The announcing team of Kenny Albert, Moose Johnston and Tony Siragusa made more mistakes announcing this game than Lindsey and Britney have made in their life-choices combined.  Between "Goose" calling offside on the offense, Albert confusing the names of the teams on multiple occasions or Moose flat out calling the wrong names on plays, it was nigh impossible to choose a winner.  Couple that with a Fox "In Sync" feature that was keyed on Nate Burleson while attempting to deconstruct Bobby Engram's touchdown reception and missing snaps because we were being treated to some annoying game recap package and it was a lousy presentation altogether.  We'll award this week's Golden Microphone to the whole booth crew.  Congrats guys, you actually made me understand why Joe Buck is considered the leader of the "A-Team" on Fox.

SummarySeattle soundly thumped a floundering 49er team accenting a workman-like offensive performance with a smothering defense and reasserted themselves as the team to beat in the NFC West.  Considering that the Seahawks were swept by San Francisco last year, this win was as important as an early season game can be.

Still, there's one more important enemy to face.

Next Week:  Revenge.

Dylan Johnson is a die-hard Seahawks fan trapped in Eagles Country and firmly believes that "Live At Leeds" is the single greatest live performance since a deaf Ludwig Van debuted his final symphony in Vienna in 1824.  You can e-mail Dylan here. Top Stories