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Week 13 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 16, Seattle Seahawks 43


What you need to know

San Francisco 49ers

One has to dig especially deep to learn anything from a game in which two-thirds of San Francisco's offensive yardage came amid defensive indifference. Four things stand out after said digging. First, Nick Mullens needs to get better at handling pressure, improve accuracy when he's on the run, and stop throwing balls late across the middle. Second, Jeff Wilson is the poster child for the argument that running backs are replaceable commodities, just as Matt Breida was before him. Third, Dante Pettis' route-running ability and understanding of zone defenses means he is going to thrive in this offense if the team parts ways with Marquise Goodwin. Finally, Richie James needs to quickly forget that this game ever happened.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks were a force on the ground in this one, and yet, they still scored four TDs in the air. Russell Wilson made the most of his few opportunities, with a couple of deep completions in addition to his red zone heroics. Chris Carson led the way on the ground, with steady gains all day; while Rashaad Penny proved to be a big play thread, adding a touchdown of his own.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Nick Mullens, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 30 - 48 - 414 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0
Don't be fooled by Mullens' 414-yard passing yardage total. He threw for 300 yards down three-plus scores in the second half, including 180 in the fourth quarter alone. And while the yardage was there against defensive indifference, the scoring was not, which is kind of a big deal when you're down by a bunch of points. On San Francisco's final two drives, Mullens led the team inside Seattle's 5-yard line and came away with a grand total of 0 points. On the first, Mullens threw late across the middle at the goal line, which resulted in a pick-six by Bobby Wagner. On the second drive, Mullens was no match when Seattle dialed up the pressure. (Although, a false start and delay of game exacerbated matters.)

RB Jeff Wilson, 55 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 61 - 0, Rec: 8 - 73 - 0 (9 targets)
Wilson got the bulk of the running back work due to the never-ending story that is Matt Breida's on-again, off-again ankle injury. He had an impressive three-play sequence on San Francisco's first drive of the second quarter. Play 1: He cut back behind the line of scrimmage to avoid quick penetration, then burst through the open hole off left tackle, and then went low to absolutely obliterate safety Tedric Thompson to finish off an 11-yard gain. Play 2: He weaved his way through considerable traffic to manage 3 yards on an outsize zone run. Play 3: He leaked out for a screen pass, accelerated through the lane created by his blockers, and ran through an arm tackle for a total of 24 yards. Other than that, his performance wasn't anything special. For instance, later in that same drive, Bobby Wagner ripped the ball out of his hands at the Seahawks 5-yard line just as San Francisco was about to reduce their 13-0 deficit. In addition, despite Seattle's defense softening up while ahead for three-plus scores the entire second half, Wilson didn't have a single run of double digit yards.

RB Matt Breida, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 6 - 0, Rec: 3 - 51 - 0 (3 targets)
Breida aggravated his never-ending ankle injury during pregame warmups. He still started, but ceded first-half playing time to Jeff Wilson and didn't have a touch in the final 27 minutes of game time. Speaking of that last touch, it was quintessential 2018 Breida, what with gaining 26 yards on a well-designed screen pass, but having to hop off the field after being tackled from behind; never to be seen again.

WR Dante Pettis, 71 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - -2 - 0, Rec: 5 - 129 - 2 (7 targets)
The most important thing to know about Pettis' fantasy output in this game is that all but one of his targets came during the second half with San Francisco down three-plus scores. That said, more than any other Niner, Pettis was actually able to make the most of the situation individually. His first target of the second half resulted in his first touchdown of the game. On the play, he sat down in front of Shaquill Griffin's zone coverage, stiff-armed Griffin into oblivion at the 10-yard line, and then cut outside to avoid oncoming tacklers and squeeze inside the pylon. (Hat-tip to Kyle Juszczyk for a timely block along the sideline.) His next catch, for 14 yards and a first down, was another example of understanding how to find the soft spot in a zone, this time on a deep cross. Both of those were a mere prelude to his 75-yard touchdown catch, which was about as Goodwin-like as it gets in this offense. Pettis ran a post route between cornerback Tre Flowers and safety Bradley McDougald that would have only been a 20-yard gain if not for Pettis' speed. He caught the ball in stride and simply ran away from three defenders, even after stumbling when Flowers clipped his heels at the Seattle 40-yard line.

WR Kendrick Bourne, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 60 - 0 (6 targets)
As has been the case for months now, Bourne played the Pierre Garcon role in San Francisco's offense. His first target didn't come until the second quarter, and a rolling-out Nick Mullens threw high and wide on an open shallow crossing route. The rest of his targets occurred during garbage time, so not much to learn from those, except for his 33-yard reception with six minutes left. It was a deep hook route in front of cornerback Shaquill Griffin, wherein a spin inside after the catch avoided both Griffin and safety Delano Hill, and then a matrix-level, open-field juke on safety Tedric Thompson set Bourne off to the races. (He's not that fast, so he ended up losing the race.)

WR Richie James, 30 offensive snaps (2 targets)
James split time with Trent Taylor in the slot and as a returner. He did not avail himself well, to say the least. His first "target" was actually batted down at the line of scrimmage, but his only legitimate chance came late in garbage time, and he dropped the pass. As a returner, he muffed a punt at the 49ers' 11-yard line, thereby gifting the Seahawks another score (and a 20-0) lead going into halftime.

TE George Kittle, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 70 - 0 (9 targets)
Kittle's longest play was a 28-yard gain late in the third quarter that was the result of deceptive play design and perfect execution. He lined up as a blocker on the right side of the line, and the 49ers faked a run to the left. Kittle sold that he was blocking, but weaved his way across the field through second-level traffic and broken open behind safety Bradley McDougald, who vacated his Cover-3 zone responsibility to bite hard on the play action. Otherwise it was a rather pedestrian day for Kittle, thanks to a combination of McDougald's coverage and errant, pressure-induced throws by Nick Mullens. (Note: One of his "targets" wasn't even a target as it was batted down at the line of scrimmage.)


Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 58 offensive snaps, Pass: 11 - 17 - 185 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0
Wilson sure made the most of his throws. In all, he had only 11 throws to his wideouts; four of which were TD passes. He also threw 5 passes to his backs and TE. On a day when the ground game took over, this has to be seen as a best case scenario for Wilson. He was lucky on one drive (in a fantasy sense), in that Chris Carson failed to convert two goal line drives, which resulted in the short touchdown to Baldwin. Wilson was chased a little bit in the pocket, but made the 49ers pay with accurate throws while scrambling, including one to Jaron Brown for a score.

RB Chris Carson, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 69 - 0, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (4 targets)
Carson set the tone with his usual smash-mouth routine on the opening drive, rushing up the middle on three consecutive plays to open the game. Between three backs, he carried a little over half the load. As Mike Davis’s carries dwindle, Carson is now getting more looks outside the tackles, in addition to the inside runs. On the downside, Carson was stopped multiple times in short yardage situations, including being stuffed twice in a row at the one yard line. Aside from that blip – or red flag, if you prefer – he ran steadily all game. Carson left the field in the fourth quarter with a dislocated finger, but is expected to play next week.

RB Rashaad Penny, 12 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 65 - 1
Penny showed tantalizing speed on an early carry that helped set up the first touchdown. He ran outside and used pure speed to accelerate into the seam for a first down. His role is not quite defined yet, but he looks to be the perfect counter to Chris Carson: Penny excels on outside runs, while still proving to be effective between the tackles. His 20-yard touchdown run was a well blocked play, but even so, Penny made no less than four defenders miss as he ran into the end zone completely untouched. Penny is proving to be quite the big play threat, while Carson (and Davis, to an extent) grind out their yards along the way.

RB Mike Davis, 10 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0
Davis seems to be the odd one out in the backfield. He got the bulk of his carries when he came in for a drive late in the second quarter, backed up close to his own goal line. He had a nine yard gain nullified by penalty, and then ran hard up the middle on consecutive plays, but was stopped short of the first down.

WR Jaron Brown, 15 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 67 - 2 (3 targets)
Brown found himself wide open on an early drive as Wilson found him easily for a big gain. Later in the drive he got open again, this time in the end zone, and he didn’t disappoint, making the easy catch. In the 4th quarter, he repeated the feat with his second score of the game, finding a zone gap in the end zone as Wilson scrambled and found him with a low throw.

WR Doug Baldwin, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 22 - 1 (4 targets)
Baldwin first drew a pass interference call as he was targeted in the end zone; then, a few plays later, got the ball on a simple flats pattern that found him wide open for the short TD. He had a chance for extra yards on a catch up the middle, but wasn’t able to find enough open field. It was a low volume day for all Seahawks receivers, but Baldwin is still miles away from being the receiver most expected him to be this season.

WR Tyler Lockett, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 10 - 0, Rec: 1 - 52 - 1 (2 targets)
Lockett only had one catch, but his presence was felt all day. He made his TD catch look easy; a 52-yard bomb from Wilson that floated right to him in the moment he separated from his coverage, which he then ran in easily. He also brought a kickoff return all the way to the 49ers twenty, and might have gone all the way if he hadn’t slowed to fend off a tackler who couldn’t actually reach him. In the second half, Lockett drew a long pass interference penalty, and also rushed for a 10-yard first down. Lockett is typically a low volume receiver, though this week was even less than usual, due to only 12 passes being thrown to wide receivers. We also keep saying his fantasy numbers are touchdown dependent – which they are – but then, he keeps on scoring touchdowns.

WR David Moore, 28 offensive snaps
Moore laid an egg in this one, which was disappointing after last week’s 103-yard total. Blame it partly on a big lead and a run heavy offense, but Russell Wilson did manage to fire four touchdown passes on the day, and Moore wasn’t a factor on any of them.

TE Nick Vannett, 25 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
Vannett as a receiver was an afterthought in a game which featured the run from the get-go. His lone target was an easily caught checkdown pass for a short gain.