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Week 17 Game Recap: San Francisco 49ers 26, Seattle Seahawks 21


What you need to know

San Francisco 49ers

If one had to boil down San Francisco's signature win into a handful of individual offensive causes, they would be as follows: 1) Jimmy Garoppolo was as pinpoint accurate as he's ever been in a 49ers uniform; 2) Deebo Samuel had his best all-around game (i.e., route-running and regular ol' running) despite facing loads of man-to-man coverage; 3) Seattle's (and other teams') strategy of using linebackers and safeties against George Kittle (many times out of necessity) lead to San Francisco's best player going off; and 4) a player like Raheem Mostert existing to overcome the one-dimensional badness of Tevin Coleman and the doghousedness/injuredness of Matt Breida.

Seattle Seahawks

This is a team that has the potential each week for fantasy gold. It is also a team that is incredibly hard to predict, especially now that Chris Carson is done for the season. In his place, Marshawn Lynch and Travis Homer split the carries more or less evenly Ė that is, Homer had a few more, but the scales could easily tip the other way next week. In the air, Wilson ability to not panic when things werenít going well (in this case, that would be for the entire first half), somehow was enough to at least keep his team within striking distance. Against a lot of pressure and very good coverage, he managed to get the ball to both Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf in the end zone, while tossing a number of checkdown passes to the RBs and TE.

San Francisco 49ers

QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 50 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 22 - 285 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 4 - 0
Garoppolo didn't throw an incompletion in the second half and was about a cumulative foot away from going a perfect 22-for-22. His first incompletion was a slight underthrow deep left to Emmanuel Sanders, who probably should have caught it. His second incompletion was a slight overthrew to Raheem Mostert in the right flat, who probably should have caught it. His third incompletion was a slightly wide back-handed shovel pass to Tevin Coleman, who probably should have caught it. And Garoppolo's final incompletion, which came with 45 seconds left before halftime was a perfect throw in the right flat to Matt Breida, who would have caught it if not for being obliterated by K.J. Wright as the ball arrived.

RB Raheem Mostert, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 57 - 2, Rec: 1 - 16 - 0 (2 targets)
With Matt Breida either nursing an injury that never goes away or being in Kyle Shanahan's doghouse, Tevin Coleman is Mostert's only real competition for snaps at the moment. And his four gains of 10 yards or more were perfect microcosms of why he's been on the field three times more often than Coleman over the past month. All four required the vision and elusiveness that Coleman hasn't demonstrated all year. No doubt all four were blocked immaculately and produced an initial lane. However, whereas Coleman would have went down at the second level of the defense because he didn't see a cutback or can't break a tackle, Mostert made several cutbacks and made several tacklers miss before reaching his final destination.

RB Tevin Coleman, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 5 - 11 - 0, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (2 targets)
Coleman's last touch of the game came less than two minutes into the second half. It was a 7-yard swing pass on 3rd-and-15, so the 49ers had to punt; Coleman was never seen again. Earlier, two of his five carries gained zero or negative yardage.

WR Deebo Samuel, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 33 - 1, Rec: 5 - 102 - 0 (5 targets)
Much has been made of Samuel's yardage-gaining prowess after a catch (and sometimes after a shovel pass on a jet sweep). There was a play in this game, during the fourth quarter no less, that gained only 1 yard after the catch, but was nevertheless even more indicative of what may be coming in the future. With Seattle having gotten back to within one score, and San Francisco having driven to the Seahawks 34-yard line, Samuel used Shaquille Griffin's own inside leverage against him to juke him out of his cleats, thereby turning press man coverage into wide open for a 23-yard gain (with only 1 yard of YAC). San Francisco answered with a touchdown of their own on the very next play.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)
Seattle split their coverage of Sanders evenly between zone and Tre Flowers' in man-to-man. As is his wont, Sanders fared better against the former than the latter, with the Flowers snaps resulting in just 5 yards on one reception. Everything else came against zone, including a missed opportunity for a big gain deep into Seattle territory. On the play, Sanders ran free through the Seahawk's intermediate zone, but Jimmy Garoppolo slightly underthrew it, and Sanders wasn't able to make a sliding 20-yard catch.

TE George Kittle, 47 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0, Rec: 7 - 86 - 0 (7 targets)
There's not much to say about Kittle's performance in this game that hasn't been said already about this and every other performance. His consistency of greatness is his hallmark. So instead, one thing outside the box score worth mentioning is that, Seattle chose to use linebackers (esp. Bobby Wagner) and safeties against Kittle, which marks the third consecutive game he's torched a team using this strategy -- immediately after Baltimore and New Orleans shut him down (relatively speaking) using more of a cornerback-based strategy.


Seattle Seahawks

QB Russell Wilson, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 40 - 233 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 8 - 29 - 0
Wilson played a smart game, and, despite playing a scoreless first half, was able to bring his team within an inch of winning the game on the final play. Wilson faced a lot of pressure throughout and ended up throwing the ball away or to a checkdown option fairly often. He also ran eight times, nearly doubling his per game average. Wilson was never really in control of the game flow, but a few hard luck moments that were out of his control (in addition to that final play), played a part in that. Late in the first half, a drive stalled after a questionable non-first down marking after a 3rd down completion to Tyler Lockett; on the following play, the Seahawks short yardage running game was stopped short. Wilson also threw a would-be TD to David Moore, but it was called back on a holding penalty. What he did to lead his team back, however, was impressive. Wilson fought hard to get the ball to both Lockett and DK Metcalf, throwing on the run and into tight coverage. This resulted in a TD for each, both on excellent passes with narrow margins for error. The running game was just good enough to keep the defense honest, but it was just a case of too little, too late, to get the victory.

RB Travis Homer, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 62 - 0, Rec: 5 - 30 - 0 (5 targets)
Homer looked surprisingly good against a rock solid defense. With Marshawn Lynch drawing the attention down the middle of the field, Homer excelled especially on outside runs and short passes, showing an impressive burst after the catch. He also ran hard to the end of each play to get every yard he could, which resulted in a few very hard hits, which makes for some exciting football, but is also somewhat worrisome given the current lack of depth in the backfield. The Seahawks gave each back a close to 50-50 split; we should expect the same next week in the Wild Card match.

RB Marshawn Lynch, 23 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 34 - 1
Lynchís overall numbers arenít very efficient, but, it didnít take him long to shake the rust off and command the attention of the defense. As for the result, it was hit and miss. Lynch did score an impressive TD, but was also stuffed on a crucial 4th-and-inches near the end of the first half. He had a couple of impressive runs in which the Beastmode of old was visible: a combination of speed burst, agility, power, and intuition behind his blockers. Early in the third quarter, he broke through the middle for a 15-yard gain, and for a moment it looked like he might actually break free for more. Lynchís most exciting play, however, was his short yardage TD in the final quarter, in which he made a dramatic leap over the line. He was perhaps robbed of a chance to win the game when, with the ball on the 1-yard line with time for perhaps one or two plays, the Seahawks were charged with a delay of game penalty, pushing them back to the six-yard line. Overall, he didnít quite get 50% of the carries, but close, and more importantly, he will continue to get the call on short yardage and we should expect him to get a slightly larger share as he continues to shake off the rust.

WR DK Metcalf, 74 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 81 - 1 (12 targets)
Metcalf has come a long way this season, and in the final game, came up big, with a TD and a few clutch catches in the late stages. Early in the game, he actually made a fantastic play, preserving a first down by somehow keeping a toe in bounds as his knee went down on the other side of the line. His TD was up high in the end zone, and was a hard throw that he corralled expertly, showing great hands and concentration. Both of these plays are the sort that he has shown inconsistency with this season, so the improvement late in the season is significant. He really is earning his touches. The score brought the Seahawks within five points. Then, on the final drive (which fell just short), Metcalf was Wilsonís favored target, with six throws going his way.

WR Tyler Lockett, 70 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 51 - 1 (7 targets)
Lockett was efficient against a tough defense that covered him well and gave him almost no room for yards after the catch. This resulted in his per catch average being nearly five yards below his season average of 13.2. It took until the third quarter, but Lockett made the catch that finally put the Seahawks on the board. It was a vintage Wilson-to-Lockett play, as Lockett found the smallest of openings while Wilson scrambled and threw a pin-point pass just before crossing the line of scrimmage.

WR David Moore, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 30 - 0 (2 targets)
Moore had his usual sort of below average gameÖ but, he caught a would be TD that was called back on a penalty, and was the main beneficiary of Malik Turner and Jaron Brown both showing up on the injury report. Moore is worth keeping an eye on heading into the Wild Card matchup, but that hinges on the health of the other WRs.

TE Jacob Hollister, 67 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (8 targets)
Hollister had the opportunity to be the hero in this one, with a catch near the goal line on the final play, but he came up just short. Hollisterís 4-32-0 line is pretty close to what should be expected going forward. Though some games in which he has been a more frequent target, his usage in five of the last six all fall in the 22-44 yard range, with no TDs.