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The Seattle Seahawks went into Monday night's game without two of their offensive weapons. The team played without running back Shaun Alexander or wide receiver Deion Branch. Normally, this would be looked upon as an advantage for the opposition, especially to a division opponent who was only two games out of first place. Luckily for Seattle, it was not even a minor inconvenience because their opponent for the evening was the San Francisco 49ers, who once again embarrassed not only themselves with an uninspiring display on the football field, but the Niner Faithful who once believed that this team might make a return to the playoffs during their 2007 campaign. The Seahawks convincingly defeated the 49ers by the score of 24-0.
The 49ers continue to surprise their fan base. Just when you thought they could not get any worse, they find a way to shock you. Looking at this team now, one has to wonder how this team managed to win their first two games. They are a couple of plays away from an 0-9 record on the season. Their loss to the Seahawks marked the third time in the past four years that the team has lost seven straight. In fact, the 49ers have lost more than seven straight only four times in the history of the franchise. The team is only two more losses away from tying the franchise's worst streak of losses, which was nine during the 1978 season.
Many explanations could be given on why the 49ers have dropped yet another game, but the reasons have been heard over and over and are, at this point, getting a bit repetitive. The offensive line play was poor. The receivers dropped balls. The defensive pass rush was lacking. The coaching and play calling was perplexing at best. Yet again, the team looked unprepared and lost on the field. While quarterback Alex Smith's struggles continued as he displayed bad mechanics, passes thrown off target, no leadership and lost two fumbles, one of which came during the team's second drive, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was able to pass at will, even though the 49ers knew that Seattle would come out throwing. The team knew what would be coming at them and still consistently failed to stop the Seahawks. Hasselbeck passed for 278 yards compared to Smith's 114, 45 of which came at the close of the first half on a dropped pass by Arnaz Battle that was ruled a completion.
Running back Frank Gore, the team's most passionate player this season, performed relatively well when compared to previous performances. While he only had 72 yards rushing, he averaged over 5.5 yards per carry.
Key plays of the game
During the Seahawk's first drive of the game, a questionable call was made and did not go the 49ers' way when reviewed. The pass from Hasselbeck to wide receiver Nate Burleson was originally ruled as an incompletion. After an official review, it was overturned and ruled a completion. The original call could have gone either way. After closer examination, the call still could have gone either way. It did not look as though there was enough visual evidence to overturn the call, but they did. While it was not a horrible call, it was devastating for this horrible 49ers team. Good teams overcome calls that do not fall their way. It has become obvious that a team like the 2007 49ers can't overcome anything.
With just under seven minutes to go in the 2nd quarter and trailing 10-0, the 49ers offense lined up in the shotgun formation with three receivers to the right, one receiver to the left and Maurice Hicks in the backfield. The ball was snapped to the quarterback, who faked a handoff to Hicks but kept the ball himself and scrambled to the right where Darrell Jackson, Bryan Gilmore and Vernon Davis blocked. Offensive lineman Eric Heitmann and Joe Staley pulled on the play and headed downfield to block as well. David Baas fell down, allowing defensive tackle Rocky Bernard get past him. This allowed the defense to get into the backfield where Bernard and linebacker Lofa Tatupa were the first to hit the quarterback for a loss of two yards. The interesting thing about this play was not just the lack of execution, but the player lined up at quarterback and the receiver at the left of the formation. Arnaz Battle was the scrambling quarterback while Alex Smith was the one lined up at receiver. All of this was from the 49ers own 7-yard line. Why the team felt it necessary to run such a bizarre play from deep within their own territory while trailing by only 10 points is a mystery.
The 49ers, who are typically very good at executing the onside kick, opened the second half with it. Marcus Hudson had a shot at the ball, but Seattle cornerback C.J. Wallace ended up wrestling it away.
Cornerback Nate Clements, the 49ers' $80 million dollar man, picked Matt Hasselbeck off in the 3rd quarter, only his second interception of the year, and ran it back to the Seattle 23-yard line. The 49ers went on to march downfield to the Seahawks' 2-yard line where they decided to go for it on 4th and maybe a foot or two. It might as well have been 4th and a mile. The team lined up in a goal line formation with a pretty straight forward run up the middle with fullback Moran Norris blocking for Frank Gore. There was some miscommunication or confusion somewhere between Larry Allen and Adam Snyder forcing Norris to block two defenders, where he was clearly overwhelmed and pushed back. Gore was tackled for no gain.
The 49ers tried anything and everything to produce a little offensive production, including a very odd punt formation earlier in the 3rd quarter where running back Michael Robinson was lined up behind center and punter Andy Lee moved to the wide receiver position. They would not run the play, take the 5-yard penalty and punt on the very next play. The list of miscues goes on and on. Because this team can't be productive running a normal offense, they opened it up and included a few trick plays on Monday night. Unfortunately, the result was more of the same. The 49ers only had six first downs, which ties for the third lowest amount in franchise history.
Their next opponent, the once winless St. Louis Rams, beat the New Orleans Saints in a shocker on Sunday by the score of 37-29. While the Rams may only have one win, they are scoring just over 15 points per game this season. Normally, this would be nothing to brag about, but when your upcoming opponent is only scoring just over 11.5 points per game, it has to give you some hope that you may be able to steal a second victory. While San Francisco has scored less than 10 points three times this season compared to the Rams' four times, it is tough to ignore the fact that over the past two games, the Rams have at been able to score. Over the past three weeks, the Rams have scored 57 points. During the same time frame, the 49ers have scored 26 points. The really sad part is the fact that the Rams have had a bye week over those past three weeks while the 49ers have not. Even more sad is the fact that the Rams have scored more points during their last two games than the 49ers have scored during their last six. No team has fewer touchdowns than San Francisco and the offense seems to get worse with each passing game.
During postgame banter, Steve Young, who is normally very capable at verbally relaying his thoughts and opinions, was speechless when asked about the current state of the 49ers. He had no idea how to describe how bad this team is. Perhaps the words don't exist to describe how bad the 49ers are. Their level of incompetence is in a league of its own.