A recap of the Seahawks’ 31-6 victory over the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on Sunday:
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks’ quarterback also could be the comeback player of the game. After throwing an interception on the first play, Hasselbeck was 17 of 22 for 170 yards. He passed for two touchdowns – 13 yards to Deon Butler and 3 yards to Deion Branch. He ran for a third – his first rushing score since 2005. He spread his completions to eight different receivers.
Hasselbeck was, to capsulate his bounce-back performance, everything the Seahawks needed him to be on this day – and against this opponent, as the 49ers were sitting on the routes of his receivers and he made them pay.
“I thought Matt played very well today,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Peephole perspective: More punts than points, but the Seahawks did get a field goal from Olindo Mare to make it 31-6.
Player of the quarter: Justin Forsett. He ran four times for 40 yards in the drive to Mare’s field goal.
Play of the quarter: On third-and-1, Forsett broke a 32-yarder to the 49ers’ 33-yard line to set up Mare’s field goal. The 32 yards on that one run was more rushing yards than the Seahawks had in the first three quarters.
Stat of the quarter: 5.4. The Seahawks averaged 5.4 yards per carry in the 4th quarter helping seal the victory at Qwest.
The bigger picture: The 49ers moved to the Seahawks’ 44 on their first possession, but SS Lawyer Milloy almost intercepted Smith’s first-down pass, nickel back Jordan Babineaux stopped TE Vernon Davis after a 1-yard gain on second down and CB Kelly Jennings had tight coverage on Smith’s incomplete throw to Dominique Zeigler on third down.
The teams then traded three-and-outs, and the Seahawks came because they continued to pressure Smith. On second down, DE Chris Clemons was clinging to Smith as he threw incomplete.
The Seahawks ended what had turned into a punt-a-thon by getting a 35-yard field goal from Mare with 2:24 to play. It was Mare’s 22nd consecutive field goal to extend his club record. The 10-plya, 57-yard drive chewed up 6½ minutes. Matt Hasselbeck hooked up with TE John Carlson for a 19-yard pass play, but the rest was all done with the run – including the 32-yarder by Forsett to the 49ers’ 33 on third-and-1; and a 5-yarder by Forsett to the 49ers’ 22 on third-and-4.
Peephole perspective: Wow. Two more touchdowns for the Seahawks, and a whole lot of pressure on 49ers QB Alex Smith from the defense. Seahawks 28-6.
Player of the quarter: Make it plural, and make it the entire Seahawks defense. They pressured Smith into a 3-of-11 performance in the quarter.
Play of the quarter: On the third play of the half, CB Marcus Trufant picked off a Smith pass that was intended for WR Michael Crabtree and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
Stat of the quarter: 9:40. The Seahawks time of possession. After having the ball for only 7:57 in the first half, it was Seattle’s turn to play keep away.
The bigger picture: What the heck? With the Seahawks in their dime defense, Trufant intercepted Smith’s pass and returned it 22 yards for a TD. Seahawks 21, 49ers 6.
On the 49ers’ next series, the Seahawks really turned up the heat on Smith. LB Aaron Curry flushed him from the pocket and then knocked Smith out of bounds after he threw incomplete. On second down, Junior Siavii hit Smith, again, after he had thrown incomplete, again, as LB David Hawthorne knocked the ball from the grasp of FB Delanie Walker. On third down, you guessed it, another incomplete pass and another hit on the QB – this time from DE Chris Clemons.
The offense followed with some precision football of its own, driving 60 yards in seven plays to Hasselbeck’s 3-yard TD pass that caught Deion Brach as much as he caught it on a third-and-goal play. Hasselbeck was 5 of 7 on the drive, including a 13-yarder to TE John Carlson, a 17-yader to No, 17, Mike Williams; and a 13-yard pass play to FB Michael Robinson, the former 49er.
The 49ers picked up back-to-back first downs on their next position, but when CB Marcus Trufant tipped away Smith’s third-down pass to Ted Ginn, the 49ers had to punt.
Peephole perspective: The 49ers dominated the quarter – and the half – but tailed 14-6 after Matt Hasselbeck scored on a 1-yard run with 2:26 remaining and then passed 13 yards to WR Deon Butler for another score with 1:27 to play.
Player of the quarter: Hasselbeck. After a 2-of-3, 7-yard, one-interception first quarter, the Seahawks QB was 4 of 5 for 62 yards in the second quarter. He ran for one score and passed for another.
Play of the quarter: Hasselbeck got the score, but he wouldn’t have been only 1 yard away without the 35-yard pass play to Mike Williams that got the ball to the 1.
Stat of the quarter: 5, as in the number of tackles by MLB Lofa Tatupu to spark the Seahawks’ about-face defensive effort.
The bigger picture: The 49ers’ drive that began in the first quarter fizzled after they had reached the Seahawks’ 6. Frank Gore was stopped for no gain on second down, as MLB Lofa Tatupu forced the play. FB Moran Norris then couldn’t handle Alex Smith’s fourth-down pass and the Seahawks took over at their own 6.
But they went three-an-out, again, as Mike Williams dropped Hasselbeck’s second-down pass.
The 49ers took over at the Seahawks’ 37 after Jon Ryan punted from his own end zone for 45 yards. On first down, DE Red Bryant got to Smith for a fumble-forcing sack by beating rookie OT Anthony Davis. But Davis recovered at the Seahawks’ 41. Smith kept the possession alive by passing to WR Michael Crabtree for an 8-yard gain on fourth-and-1. FB Delanie Walker then carried for 10 yards to the 9, and caught a 6-yard pass. But the drive stalled when Tatupu and DE Chris Clemons stopped Norris for a 1-yard gain on third-and-goal from the 2. Joe Nedney kicked a 23-yard field goal to make it 6-0 with 6:23 left in the half. Smith was 3 of 3 for 19 yards on the nine-play, 31-yard drive.
The Seahawks then drove 64 yards in seven plays to the go-ahead score – Hasselbeck’s 1-yard dive to the goal line. The Seahawks got a first down when 49ers CB Nate Clements was flagged for holding WR Deion Branch on a third-and-4 play. Hasselbeck then passed for 11 yards to TE Cameron Morrah to the 49ers’ 39, from a set that had all three tight ends stacked on the right side. The big play, however, came on Williams’ first catch since the 2007 season. He caught a Hasselbeck pass and took it to the 1 for a 35-yard gain.
Quicker than you could say, “What the heck is going on here?” the Seahawks scored again – this time on Hasselbeck’s nice 13-yard TD pass to Butler. The Seahawks got the ball back when Smith’s third-and-5 pass went off Crabtree and nickel back Jordan Babineaux picked off the carom and returned it 20 yards to the 49ers’ 13.
Peephole perspective: An early 49ers’ field goal. A first-play-of-the-season interception thrown by Matt Hasselbeck. 49ers 3-0.
Player of the quarter: 49ers QB Alex Smith was 9 of 10 for 81 yards.
Play of the quarter: On the first play of the game, 49ers CB Nate Clements intercepted Hasselbeck’s pass that was intended for TE John Carlson to set up the quarter’s only score.
Stat of the quarter: 7.3. That’s the 49ers averaged on their first down plays on the drive that closed the quarter and spilled into the second quarter.
The bigger picture: The Seahawks won the coin toss, when 49ers MLB Patrick Willis called tails, but it was heads. The “momentum” didn’t last long, as Leon Washington couldn’t handle the kickoff into the end zone and Hasselbeck’s first-down pass was intercepted by Clements and returned 7 yards to the Seahawks’ 29.
The Seahawks had opened in a two-tight end set, with Carlson and Chris Baker on the right side.
The 49er needed five plays to score, on Smith’s 8-yard pass to a wide-open Josh Morgan in the right side of the end zone. The Seahawks challenged the ruling, however, and a review showed that Morgan’s elbow came down out of bounds. So rather than a TD, the play was an incomplete pass. The review was huge, as Frank Gore gained 2 yards on second down and CB Kelly Jennings dropped Gore for a 1-yard gain on the third down pass. Joe Nedney kicked a 23-yard field goal with 10:16 to play, capping the eight-play, 24-yard drive.
Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 41 yards to the Seahawks’ 47. But the Seahawks went three-and-out.
The 49ers were driving as the quarter ended, having moved from their own 10 to the Seahawks’ 15. The big play was a 23-yard gain on a screen pass from Smith to – who else? – Gore.
The following players are inactive for the 49ers today:
- WR Kyle Williams
- CB Tremaine Brock
- LB Ahmad Brooks
- OT Barry Sims
- C Eric Heitmann
- OT Alex Boone
- 3rd QB: Troy Smith
David Baas is starting for Heitmann.
The following players are inactive for the Seahawks today:
- WR Golden Tate
- CB Nate Ness
- OT Russell Okung
- TE Anthony McCoy
- OL Chester Pitts
- CB Kennard Cox
- OG Evan Dietrich-Smith
- DL E.J. Wilson
Tate being inactive is not that big a surprise. All his snaps in practice came with the scout team that works against the Seahawks defense. After making impressive plays during the spring minicamps and training camp practices, the team’s second-round draft choice was not able to translate that into game-day production during the preseason games.
Tyler Polumbus will start at left tackle for Okung. David Hawthorne, who missed time during the preseason with a hip injury, is back and will start at weak-side linebacker.
This game has almost as many story lines are roster moves made by the tandem of coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider since they arrived in January to restock a team that won nine games the past two seasons.
And what better way to kick it off than against the 49ers, not only the preseason favorite to win the division for the first time since 2002 but a team Carroll grew up in the Bay Area rooting for and also coached for in the mid 90s. The is Carroll’s return to the NFL after his ridiculously successful nine-year run at the University of Southern California that included a 97-19 record, two national championships and seven consecutive Pac-10 titles. You can read more about Carroll’s mindset entering this game.
But that was then, and this is now. Here are some elements to ponder as you get ready for the game:
Carroll admitted this week that the Seahawks have been game planning for months with an eye to this matchup. To say he’s geeked doesn’t quite capture his level of anticipation. For more on that, click here.
Matt Hasselbeck makes his 10th start in a season opener for the Seahawks. You can read more about that here. Carroll has said all offseason that the keys to Hasselbeck recovering his form after two injury-plagued and -interrupted seasons is the ability to take some pressure off him by running the ball and then protecting him when he drops back to pass. But the running game was ineffective during the preseason and first-round draft choice Russell Okung, the handpicked player to start at the pivotal left tackle position, is out because of a sprained ankle. Justin Forsett gets the start at running back, and is determined to provide the hot hand that Carroll says it will take for one of the backs to continue getting carries as Julius Jones and Leon Washington await their turns. Tyler Polumbus, who joined the team last week, replaces Okung and will be facing the 49ers’ Justin Smith. That matchup is vital to the Seahawks’ success, so look for offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to deploy a tight end in giving Polumbus help in obvious passing situations.
Speaking of Washington, he will return kickoffs in his return from the severely broken right leg that ended his 2009 season with the New York Jets. Washington got some work at running back during the preseason, but the 2008 AFC Pro Bowl returner has not returned a kickoff since early last season.
The emergence – or reemergence – of Mike Williams has been on the feel-good stories of this offseason. After being out of the league the past two seasons, the former Top 10 draft choice of the Detroit Lions has been reunited with his college coach and played well enough that the Seahawks were able to release T.J. Houshmandzadeh and turn the starting split end job over to Williams.
The defense will have to deal with the riddle that is 49ers running back Frank Gore. He had only 25 rushing yards at Qwest Field last season; in large part because coach Mike Singletary gave him the ball only nine times after deciding that passing was the way to beat the Seahawks on that day. It didn’t work. Alex Smith did throw for 310 yards and two touchdowns, but the Seahawks won 20-17 – their fifth, and final, victory last season. But Gore has run for 212 and 207 yards against the Seahawks in the past, and also has a 144-yard effort at Qwest.
On special teams, Olindo Mare ended last season with a club-record streak of 21 consecutive field goals. He’ll look to prolong it against the 49ers. Michael Robinson was the 49ers’ special teams captain last season. Today, he’s a Seahawk. Click here for more on his story. The most consistent player during the preseason was punter Jon Ryan, so his ability to alter and enhance field position will be critical.
That’s just scratching the surface on all the things to look for in this game, but it will have to suffice for now. We’ll be back later with the list of inactive players and the quarterly reports.