Sleepless Over Seattle
September 17, 2013 at 2:25 PM • 15 comments
By Jeff Kaplan
Yes, me again.
Look, don't even start, okay? We were at Seattle. That was a loss from the moment the schedule first came out. We were gonna lose there, just like all eight road-teams lost there last year. We are still the league's best, but at the Clink it just doesn't matter. We go there, we lose. Just accept it and move on.
That's pathetic. When you're the league's best—though, clearly, we're really not—you beat anyone, anywhere. Montana's Niners once won 18 road games in a row; plenty of those were in hostile arenas. Did we ever say, "Oh, dear me, it's too tough to win there"? Hell, no. Instead we just went there and tore the place down. So spare me your excuses. It's just a little noise, for crissake.
A little noise?! You do realize that those whack-jobs set a record for the loudest stadium ever recorded, right? They disrupt the opponent; that's just a fact. And when you run an intricate offense like ours—with all the presnap reads and adjustments—you're disrupted even more. We tried to dumb things down, and you saw the result. 3 points, 207 total yards. Last week Anquan Boldin had more by himself!
Here's the problem, though. In case you haven't noticed, the Seahawks are in our division. We go to Seattle every year. If you're gonna concede that we'll LOSE every year, then you're dangerously close to conceding the division. And if we don't win the division, then guess what? Come playoff time—if we make it at all—guess where we'll probably have to go?
But we lost there last year too; we still won the division, and then won the conference. Granted, my "concession" makes our home-game with Seattle monumentally important; obviously, we can't get swept. But we'll win that game—at least THIS year—and we'll win the division for the same reason: on the road, Seattle is average. Were you that impressed with their dozen points at Carolina?
Seattle is better than they were last year; there's no way they'll repeat three-and-five on the road. Don't give me the score at Carolina. What matters is that they BEAT Carolina, and they'll beat us for the same reason: they're better. Forget about the noisy crowd, and find me one advantage we had on the field. Quarterback? No. Running back? Nope. Receiving corps? GOD no. Offensive line? No way. (Why ours continues to be deemed the league's best is totally beyond me.) Defense and special teams? No and no. The Seahawks are simply better, and they'd beat us at the Clink, at the 'Stick, or on the moon.
My WORD you're overreacting. Yeah, sure, our offense struggled, gaining only 4.1 yards per play. But you know how many yards per play the Seahawks gained? 4.1! And don't forget, the score was only five-zip at halftime, and even in the fourth quarter it was a two-possession game. Don't be fooled by the final score; that was a close, hard-fought game that came down to two things: turnovers and penalties. You can bet by December we'll have those cleaned up.
Why, because Jim Harbaugh is our coach? It's time to face some facts here. Harbaugh might be a tactical genius—though he certainly didn't prove it on Sunday—but his crazy intensity is out of control, and it's starting to rub off on his players. That's two straight games with double-digit penalties, and the ones in Seattle—especially the three personal-fouls, including two when it was still a game—were just appalling. The Seahawks tried to get into our heads, and stupidly we couldn't resist. And you know what's most annoying? What's most annoying is that the Seahawks are truly a bunch of punks—with an utter snake of a head coach—yet thanks to Harbaugh's raging testosterone ("come with some knuckles"), WE'RE the team that everyone hates. The heir to Walsh? Walsh would be ashamed.
Look, I'm not thrilled with Harbaugh's antics. But if they're the price of his "tactical genius"—which by now no one can seriously doubt—then I'll gladly pay it. He's the league's best coach by a hundred miles. Sure, he's capable of getting pantsed. But give him enough chances, and he'll figure you out. Crazily intense or not, he's steady enough to outwit you. He certainly won't be outwitted (or outwitted AGAIN) by the likes of Pete Carroll.
I'll agree with you there. But it isn't just about the coaches. We're facing a serious talent gap. I'd never trade Colin Kaepernick for Russell Wilson, but when you match our receivers against their secondary—and theirs against ours—well, you saw for yourself. I remember reading a prediction that our lack of receiving depth would cost us a game, and it was our biggest problem on Sunday. Richard Sherman took Boldin away, and even with a backup corner on the other side, no one else could get open. (And though it's not his fault, Vernon Davis reminded us that he really isn't a wide receiver. That's before he got HURT, of course.) And since we couldn't stretch the field with the pass, Seattle was able to stuff the run. Meanwhile, our own secondary continued to leak, and now that our defensive line is thinning out...the gap is only going to grow.
You're wrong. Sure, RIGHT NOW, our receiving corps is laughable. (Remember all the preseason hype about Marlon Moore? Pfft.) But by December, Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham will both be back. On D we'll add Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, and Eric Wright. I know, I know; Seattle will add Brandon Browner, Bruce Irvin, and Percy Harvin. But with a title-worthy receiving corps, we'll be 100% better than we were on Sunday.
I guess that's the thing. I agree: IF all those guys come back, and IF they're effective, we'll beat Seattle on our field. So IF, 'til then, we can stay within striking distance, we'll win this division and keep our Super Bowl hopes alive. But those are three ginormous IFs.
You worry too much. We went to Seattle, the league's toughest place to go, and lost a game that was much closer than the final score. Against the Packers, we proved that we can beat even GREAT teams under normal conditions. So we'll continue to win, and by the time the Seahawks come to town, we'll be ready. Trust me.
Okay, well, if you say so.
Still...wanna bet an eyebrow?
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
By: shaneDate: September 18, 2013 at 9:23 PMComment: Thanks jeff, price well worth it, I love the 9ers!!... I agree with the theory on the weapons. I think ppl get overly excited about our WRs. Boldin is good but past his prime (lets not forget GBs D is awful), Williams is an undersized SIXTH RD pick. Moore was awful on the fins, and patton is still a rookie, as is McDonald, and Miller is a LBer playing FB. None of this is striking any fear in a top 3 D like the hawks. getting Crab and manningham back changes everything, then we have a legit 1 (Crab) 2 (boldin) and 3 (Mario). PS that Patton play was awful, he was wide open! that hurt.
By: kate from ColmaDate: September 18, 2013 at 3:18 PMComment: Yes...I totally agree with the side of you that has serious concerns about the Niners after this last thrashing by the Seahawks. Our secondary is just not that good. And yes, what on earth is going on with the penalties!? Aldon Smith was so out of line, and it cost us. Harbaugh should have channeled Singletary and benched him like Vernon was.
By: greg klineDate: September 18, 2013 at 8:45 AMComment: looking at the all-22, Kyle Williams was open all day.
By: NinerdawgDate: September 18, 2013 at 8:23 AMComment: What's up Jeff!! Nice article. I dont want to blame the entire game on the crowd noise, but do you think the new Niner stadium will be equipped with a similar amp like at Century Link? I would love to give the Seahawks a dose of their own medicine.
By: Dallas Niner fanDate: September 18, 2013 at 7:58 AMComment: First let me say before making any observations that we are very, very early in the season. There is still a lot of football to be played. Having said that, here are my concerns. First, Kap looked totally rattled, was clearly a deer in headlights. It was so bad I thought for a moment that I wish we had Alex Smith (my God, did I just say that?). The fact that Kap looked like a confused rookie in a big game like that concerns me. Second, another QB concern, could it be that Kap gets comfortable with one receiver who he throws to consistently to the exclusion of other receivers? So perhaps it is not the weakness of our receiving corps but Kap not throwing to anyone else, for whatever reason. I say this because I know on one occasion on 3rd down Patton was wide open in the end zone and Kap did not throw to him. I heard there were other open receivers that Kap missed as well. Thoughts?
By: P.J.Date: September 17, 2013 at 10:00 PMComment: I'm on the frequency of the positive side of the room. I don't understand the fatalists on here. Reid was looking amazing before he was knocked out of the game. I was worried he wouldn't be a heavy hitter like Goldson, but he can do that and cover better than Goldson ever did. This is simply a case of a great team coming off an emotional win, having to travel and sleep in a strange bed, coming into record-breaking crowd noises in crappy weather delayed conditions. Who builds a stadium in the rainiest town in the country and doesn't think about maybe putting a removable dome on it? They'll shake it off and keep winning like champions do! The She-hawks won't have an answer for us by the end of the season!
By: ShaneDate: September 17, 2013 at 8:52 PMComment: Jamicheal: where do you watch coaches film? im actually being serious.
By: shaneDate: September 17, 2013 at 8:51 PMComment: Very interesting article Jeff, I like how you incorporated both views. Im not ready to panic yet, its one game and every team struggles in that BS stadium that should be torn down. But something I saw in that game that I haven't heard one thing about yet is the impact the loss of Walker has had on us. Have you noticed they are trying to use Bruce Miller in that role and its failing miserably? Kaep put an absolute gem right in his hands, that could have been 6 and changed how the whole game went and miller couldn't catch it. There were a couple other plays where he was either just not getting the YAC or not making the catch. These plays/catches are just too difficult for a LBer converted to FB. They better get that kid from Seattle ready to play TE FAST, cuz Miller in that role isn't working.
By: Nick S.Date: September 17, 2013 at 4:27 PMComment: Solid article Jeff. There are definitely two ways to look at this game. You either flip out and panic or you take a measured approach. Nicely done.
By: DannyDate: September 17, 2013 at 4:04 PMComment: You nailed it when you stated the team is playing out of control like their coach. This team is regressing instead of progressing. I'd be surprised if we even make the playoffs this year. Manningham and Crabtree won't help as it will be too late by the time they get back. I've been a Niner fan since 1969 or so and seen a lot of great teams. This one is not that good.
By: JamichealDate: September 17, 2013 at 3:52 PMComment: Check out the coaches film, receivers were open, especially Kyle Williams. Don't judge receivers off the TV version of the game when you can't even see what the receivers are doing!!
By: Jamicheal TurnerDate: September 17, 2013 at 3:39 PMComment: Russell Wilson completed 8 passes!!!! None of their receivers had more than 1 catch, how can you say their receivers outplayed our secondary. The things you guys say are hilarious. Kyle Williams was open all game, Kap just simply missed him on a 60 yard bomb. That's because he was uncomfortable all day. Because of crowd noise the offense had to use a predictable snap count and that gave Seattle's Dline a jump on our Oline. Seattle is unbeatable at home because teams are forced to run simple game plans, like Jeff said. You guys are pathetic handing Seattle the division because they did what they were supposed to. They're a good team, they're not dominant and not the better team, unless we're playing in Seattle!!
By: DanDate: September 17, 2013 at 3:22 PMComment: You said it. The Seahawks acted like thugs, and the refs let it get out of control. 9ers needs to play smarter (too many stupid penalities at the wrong time). 1) Stay disciplined. 2) Get the running game back on track, and stuff it down the throat. 3) Play to your strengths and dare the defense to stop you. Defense was valiant, and special teams was solid. The empire will strike back.
By: MonsterninerDate: September 17, 2013 at 3:17 PMComment: Great article as always Jeff and maybe I'm overreacting but what I saw last sunday made me think that perhaps all that hype on the Seahawks was right and all the hype about us was wrong. We all watched a game that slowly became a game between a Super Bowl-caliber team and a team that was vanishing through time. Our Niners were totally overmatched and I know the score of the first half but hey, the games have 2 halves and they destroyed us in the second half. Our running game is non-existent and our running defense has a lot of holes when we play nickel. The pistol isn't working and the O-line.........where the hell is our O-line? I don't know, it's only week 2 and we have 14 more games to play but the holes that we have seen in these 2 games are serious and if we can't fix them we're gonna lose again to those guys and we won't have even one playoff game at home.
By: CaurickDate: September 17, 2013 at 3:09 PMComment: Nice. When did you have time to write the transcript in my head?