Seneca Wallace completed 60% of his passes for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns. More importantly, Wallace didn't turn the ball over. That's quite an improvement from his start last Sunday against Tampa. Wallace was at his best in the 2nd half, going 7 for 8 for 142 yards, with his lone incompletion coming on the 1st offensive play of the 2nd half, which arguably should've drawn a pass interference flag on Nate Clements. The only mistake Wallace made after halftime was stepping out of bounds at the line of scrimmage, which gave the 49ers their only sack of the game.
Running Backs: C
Fullback Leonard Weaver certainly put forth an "A" effort, leading the Seahawks with 4 receptions for 116 yards and the two longest pass plays the Seahawks have had this season, both of which going for touchdowns. Weaver also had a nice 10-yard carry to pick up a key 1st down that helped set up T.J. Duckett's 1-yard touchdown run. Seattle's three-headed monster (Julius Jones, Maurice Morris, Duckett) never got going, mustering just 26 yards on 25 carries against the NFL's 23rd-ranked run defense. Now, some of the lack of production can be attributed to effective run blitzing by the 49ers, and some of it can be attributed to blown assignments by the offensive line. Some may even take issue with the way the backs were rotated into the game. But for whatever the reason, as a group, the running backs need to do better than they did today.
Wide Receivers/Tight End: C+
Seattle's success passing the football can be attributed mainly to Leonard Weaver, as the Seahawks wide receivers and tight ends accounted for 9 receptions and 84 yards. Engram was the most targeted receiver on Sunday, and while he did fare better than he has in recent weeks, it's still clear that he and Wallace don't have the same rapport Engram has with Matt Hasselbeck. Koren Robinson made some key receptions, including a 6-yard grab on a 4th down play in the 1st quarter that led to a field goal. Robinson also made a huge block that sprung Weaver on the 62-yard touchdown pass that iced the game for the Seahawks. Rookie tight end John Carlson had one reception (for 13 yards), but was mostly used as a blocker. Jordan Kent dropped the only pass thrown his way.
Offensive Line: C
On the bright side, the Seahawks offensive line didn't allow a sack and gave Wallace ample time to see the field and step into his throws. The downside is the 49ers front seven was much more physical than the Seahawks offensive line when Seattle attempted to run the ball. Seattle's 8th-ranked rushing offense finished with 39 rushing yards on 28 carries, a 1.4 average. 8 of Seattle's 28 rushing attempts lost yardage. Only 4 rushes gained 4+ yards, with Seattle's longest run being a 14-yard run by Jones that was pure second effort by Jones, who was originally stopped at the line of scrimmage.
Defensive Line: B
Patrick Kerney and Rocky Bernard had perhaps their best games of the season. Kerney was a beast, and it shows on the stat sheet. He had a sack, forced fumble, a fumble recovery (returned for 50 yards), two passes defended and two quarterback hits. Bernard was equally disruptive, notching a pair of sacks and forcing a fumble. Backup defensive tackle Craig Terrill added his 1st sack of the 2008 season, while Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant were solid in run support. Darryl Tapp and Lawrence Jackson had good games overall, though each made a notable miscue or two. Had Tapp simply fallen on the first fumble by J.T. O'Sullivan, Seattle's offense would've had the ball inside the red zone. He tried to scoop it up and run, though, and the 49ers retained possession. Not falling on the ball cost the Seahawks over 50 yards in field position. Meanwhile, Jackson made two errors in a 4-play stretch in the 2nd quarter. First off, he had an opportunity to stop Frank Gore at the line of scrimmage, but appeared to lose his bearings and Gore ripped off a 29-yard run, which fortunately was cut in half by Gore's face-mask penalty. Two plays later, Jackson jumped offsides on a 2nd and 14 play, which negated an incomplete pass. To avoid piling on Jackson, who has had a rough couple of weeks and has lost his starting job, after his offsides penalty, it was his initial pressure that led O'Sullivan to tuck the ball while Bernard cleaned it up for the sack.
For the second week in a row Lofa Tatupu, the heart and soul of the Seahawks defense, was lost for the game before halftime with an injury. Veteran D.D. Lewis stepped up in his absence, and Lewis, Leroy Hill and Julian Peterson combined for 29 tackles, with Peterson adding a sack and forced fumble that Kerney returned for 50 yards. Hill was his usual disruptive self, leading the team with 12 total tackles. Aside from the obvious (Tatupu's injury), the only complaints about the linebackers were Lewis being unable to intercept an O'Sullivan pass in the 2nd quarter and the number of dumpoff passes the 49ers were allowed to complete.
Josh Wilson's 1st career interception and 75-yard touchdown return is the biggest play Seattle's secondary has made all season. Overall, this unit has a reason to feel good this morning. Marcus Trufant, Jordan Babineaux and Deon Grant all made plays on balls in the air, something this unit has struggled to do this season. Kelly Jennings was tested on a deep ball, but had solid coverage and the pass fell incomplete. The problems in the secondary are far from fixed, as Wilson and Deon Grant had a mix-up that once again led to the longest play of someone's career (tight end Delanie Walker's 53-yard catch and run). But it took some baby steps towards respectability against a passing offense that torched it earlier this season.
Special Teams: B
Jon Ryan punted very well, finishing with a net average of 44.2 on his 5 punts. Olindo Mare was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts, and put 3 of his 7 kickoffs into the end zone, one for a touchback. Josh Wilson only got to return one kick, but he made it count. Wilson's 40-yard return set the offense up in good field position on their second touchdown drive. Seattle's coverage units did a good job, but I'm sure special teams coach Bruce DeHaven didn't like seeing Mare having to make a tackle.
Given the amount of attention the media paid last week to what Mike Holmgren will do next year, Holmgren showed that he's still very much focused on 2008.Two areas where the Seahawks have been seeking improvement all season has been creating turnovers and improving on 3rd downs. Seattle was +2 in turnovers and on offense and they were 6-14 (42%) on 3rd downs. That's solid improvement in both those areas, but there are still other areas that need to be addressed. Seattle's ground game was ineffective, so the offensive staff has work to do this week. Perhaps it was due to San Francisco's quarterback change, but the Seahawks defense allowed the 49ers to convert 5 of 8 third-down attempts in the 2nd half, after doing very well in that area in the first half.
Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.