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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 26

What you need to know

Seattle Seahawks

As the 49ers began to stifle the passing attack, the Seahawks seemed to “take what they could get”, resorting primarily to throws to the RBs, rather than attacking them downfield. In part, this was playing to their strength, as the ground game was strong all day, with Chris Carson dominating the touches. But it also kept the game closer than it perhaps needed to be, and in the end, they fell on the wrong side of it in OT. Of note in the passing game: Wilson was quietly accurate and efficient, though he slowed considerably in the second half; and Doug Baldwin appears to be picking up steam, with two TDs, which makes four for him in his last four games played.

San Francisco 49ers

It's official: Dante Pettis has taken Marquise Goodwin's job. Nick Mullens is able to (mostly) execute the pass offense as called by Kyle Shanahan. The offensive line, especially on its interior, needs to do a better as run blockers, as Matt Breida (and Josh Wilson) had little-to-no running room for most of the game, especially up the middle.

Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 31 - 237 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 15 - 0
Overall, Wilson played his game, patient and efficient, right to the end. He showed a nice touch with the ball, and good rapport early on with Lockett and Baldwin, for big plays, including two TDs to Baldwin. On the first, Wilson layed up a perfectly time fade pass in the back corner of the end zone; and the second was a vintage Wilson-Baldwin hookup in traffic, that Baldwin then took for the score. Their 4th scoring hookup in as many games, it screamed “They’re ba-aack!” as Baldwin punctuated the play with a flying leap to cross the goal line. Wilson’s downfall – i.e.: what held him back from a better game was the fact that on many play action plays, he would look up to see a defender in his face, which led to a number of quick throw-aways. Rather than continue to throw it downfield, the Seahawks took what they could get, in the form of passes in the backfield, which made up for more than half of the total completions. Particularly in the second half, the passing game ground to a halt, as Wilson only threw for 87 of his 237 total yards. He did look light on his feet when taking off on read option plays, but never broke free for a big gain.

RB Chris Carson, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 22 - 119 - 1, Rec: 6 - 29 - 0 (6 targets)
Carson ran well all game, controlling the line of scrimmage with ease on most plays. Runs to the left were particularly well blocked, and he did a great job maneuvering through the holes he was given. Not only did he dominate the touches in the ground game, but added to his repertoire this week was six catches. The Seahawks seemed to resort to passes out of the backfield for much of the game, and Carson proved up to the task, despite the presence of Mike Davis, who got even more work in that area. The one black mark on Carson’s game is the fact that in OT, he was completely stuffed on the first two plays from scrimmage, which led to a Seattle punt, and the eventual loss on the ensuing 49ers drive.

RB Mike Davis, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 21 - 0, Rec: 8 - 63 - 0 (8 targets)
With Rashaad Penny out, Davis got close to his early season workload – with a twist. Carson was running well, so Davis did not get many carries; instead, he led the team with eight receptions on the day. He actually looked quite good on his limited carries, but will continue to play second – or third, fiddle, if/when Penny returns. His production will be hard to predict.

WR Doug Baldwin, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 77 - 2 (6 targets)
After sitting last week out with an injury, Baldwin came back with a score on the first drive, on a nicely timed fade pattern from six yards out. Despite a little rust, the rapport was still there with Russell Wilson, who placed the ball perfectly on his fingertips in the back corner of the end zone. He also looked good on a low, diving catch over the middle. And later in the half, Baldwin seemed rejuvenated – almost his old self – as he found a pocket in the zone downfield, caught the ball cleanly, and then outmaneuvered three close defenders before extending the ball as he flew over the goal line in mid-air.

WR Tyler Lockett, 68 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 2 - 45 - 0 (2 targets)
Lockett had a very nice catch on the first drive, down the sideline and caught over his shoulder for a big gain. And then he went silent. Well, not entirely, but that catch would account for more than half of his total. With a healthy running game, and Russell Wilson often having to throw the ball away quickly on passing plays, the targets simply weren’t there for Lockett.

WR David Moore, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 9 - 0 (3 targets)
Moore’s woes continued, as he now has only one catch over the past three games. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin seems to be back on track. Moore has had his moments this season, but overall has not been able to establish himself as a reliable starter. I think we can do the math here.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Nick Mullens, 62 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 29 - 275 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0
Mullen's box score stats show a good performance, but the game film shows more of a mixed bag. In terms of screwing up a great play call, Mullens overthrew a wide-open George Kittle on what should have been a 71-yard touchdown. In terms of not screwing up a great play call, Mullens hit a wide-open Garrett Celek for a touchdown pass, which also benefited from safety Tedric Thompson's slip and fall on the wet turf. More mundanely, Mullens made a picture-perfect throw to Dante Pettis on a go route and dealt with pass rush pressure better than usual when Seattle sent blitz after blitz in the fourth quarter and overtime.

RB Matt Breida, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 50 - 0, Rec: 5 - 46 - 0 (5 targets)
Breida's pedestrian performance on paper was also a pedestrian performance on film. His gains as a receiver were due to either well-executed screen passes or being wide open in the flat. As a runner, there simply wasn't much running room all game, such that even Walter Payton wouldn't have gained much more than the 50 yards Breida did. It should be said, however, that Breida's hard running and cut-back ability turned a handful of 1-to-4-yard gains into 5-to-8-yard gains.

WR Dante Pettis, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 83 - 0 (5 targets)
The primary memory of Pettis among people who watched this game live is likely going to be him being the beneficiary of a suspect pass interference call that, for all intents and purposes, resulted in San Francisco's game-winning field goal. But his performance was so much more than that, as it cemented the truth of what has been written in this space the past several weeks. First and foremost, with a healthy Marquise Goodwin once again being relegated to the bench despite Pierre Garcon's absence, it's now abundantly clear that Pettis present and future in this offense is to play the Goodwin role, not the Garcon role. Second, he once again demonstrated a beyond-his-years adroitness for route-running against both man-to-man and zone. As the former is far tougher, it's worth noting that, on his 30-yard catch in the fourth quarter, Pettis subtly faked an inside move out of the slot that created more than enough separation from cornerback Shaquill Griffin on his go route.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 16 - 0 (4 targets)
Bourne, who once again started for Pierre Garcon, had a performance that was defined by two plays in the middle of the field. On the positive play, he ran a shallow cross out of the left slot and made a spectacular, death defying catch on the type of throw announcers and fans label "The quarterback was trying to get him killed." While that play could have been much worse for Bourne, his negative play could have been much worse for the 49ers had they lost. On 3rd-and-10 with the game tied late in the fourth quarter, Bourne ran a deep dig route from outside right and was wide open. Nuck Mullens tossed a perfect ball despite getting clobbered as he threw, but Bourne flat out dropped it, thereby giving Seattle a chance to win in regulation.

TE George Kittle, 59 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (8 targets)
At first glance, it appears Kittle underachieved against the Seahawks. It turn out, however, that perception would be much different if one play had gone differently. Early in the second quarter, Kittle ran a post route from a flexed left position. Single-high safety Tedric Thompson, initially shaded towards Kittle's side of the field, was late to react to the route flipping to the other side of the field. Meanwhile, linebacker Austin Calitro reacted quickly, but was too far upfield to get back in time. All this resulted in Kittle being wide open for a no-doubt 71-yard touchdown, but Nick Mullens ever so slightly overthrew him.

TE Garrett Celek, 17 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 61 - 1 (2 targets)
Celek didn't play more snaps than he usually does (around 30 percent as a blocking tight end), so he only warrants mention because one of his receptions produced San Francisco's longest gain of the game. It should not come as a shock that it was less an individual feat than perhaps the easiest touchdown Celek has scored in his career. Lined up in a three-point stance next to right tackle Mike McGlinchey, Celek ran a seam route uncovered through Seattle's zone. And after he caught the pass 16 yards downfield, safety Tedric Thompson -- Seattle's last line of defense -- slipped on the wet turf, thereby allowing Celek an uncontested (lumbering) jaunt into the end zone.