This is my review/thoughts of the game as I saw it last night, I haven't re-watched so its based on what I saw at the time, so please bear with me if there are any inaccuracies! Also the Defensive part is a bit jumbled.
For me Alex Smith looked very timid and shaky at times during this game. It was almost like we were taken back to the first 5 games of the 2010 season with Smith primarily not looking to make a mistake and fearing the wrath of Singletary. We saw the signs of this early on with the two badly overthrown passes for Kyle Williams, I know deep ball accuracy has been one of Alex's strengths but I can't help but think these were given some extra air with him focusing on not being intercepted. It was a shame because nailing one of these may have given Smith some confidence early and helped him moving forward into this game. Throughout the first half Smith was very hesitant and lacked accuracy and touch on his passes. What's frustrating is that until the Giants game Smith had been playing so well, for example against the Bills less than two weeks ago, although It was the Bills, Smith just gave off a much more confident vibe, was poised, making good decision and above all highly accurate, with great ball location on most of his passes, I particularly recall a few to Vernon Davis which were perfect.
The first half wasn't one that Smith would want to particularly remember, however the long TD drive in the 3rd Quarter, where Smith was a perfect 5-5 for 60 yards culminating in a 12 yard TD strike to Delanie Walker, he made good decisions and looked to have some swagger back in his step. I know he is often criticised RE: Check Downs, and when you see replays with receivers wide open I agree this is really frustrating, but on this drive the check downs were the right decisions. However, on the next 49er drive with the 49ers having the opportunity to put the game beyond Seattle, Smith locked onto Moss at the back of the End Zone and was intercepted. It was a really bad decision, trying to force the play and critically taking point off the board, which in a tight game can't be tolerated. I mentioned it at the time but I honestly believe that prior to the Giants game Smith doesn't make that play.
For the remainder of the game the 49ers predominantly run the ball, and maybe worryingly, opting not to put the ball in Smith's hands, which maybe highlighted a break down in coaching staffs belief in their QB. With 11 days until the Cards game I hope the 49ers can get Smith playing back with the confidence and belief he had shown prior to the Giants game, but for this to happen maybe the coaching staff need to show that they still have belief in No. 11.
Frank Gore had an exceptional game, continually breaking through the middle of the Seahawks resolute defensive line for considerable gains, ending with 131 yards from only 16 carries at an average of over 8YPC, which considering the ineffectiveness of the passing game for the majority of this game was even more impressive. The 49ers kept the Seahawks honest on the outside by continuing to utilise Kendall Hunter's speed running a number of toss plays. Gore was also heavilly involved in the passing game, a characteristic we havent seen a great deal of in the Harbaugh era, and im not sure if this was by design or the fact that nobody else was getting open, but it served to remind everyone of what a good dual threat HB he is, finsihing with 51 yards on 5 receptions. Bruce Miller continued his development into one of the most complete FB's in the NFL with another good display.
To date Gore is averaging 5.8 YPC and is on course for 1350 yards this season, if he can maintain his fitness. Giving Hunter a share of the carries is proving to be really beneficial in keeping Gore fresh throughout the game, and providing a great change of pace. If they are going to have Brandon Jacobs active I would like to see him involved, although I appreciate this may be likely to occur on 3rd and short situations which I don't recall there being a great deal of, if any during this game.
It was a really physical day for the 49ers WR/TE contingent against the aggressive and very sizeable Seahawk secondary. Without focusing too much on their physicality the Seahawks secondary was pretty much able to keep the 49ers WR/TE in check throughout the game, with only the two aforementioned Kyle Williams plays where a WR was able to get really open. What was concerning here was the 49ers didn't even seem to target Vernon Davis, the commentators didn't draw on the fact that he was being double covered throughout the game so this was puzzling. It doesn't take a genius to work out that the 49ers need to get the ball in #85's hands as the first 5 weeks of the season highlighted. During one play there was a disconnect between Smith and Michael Crabtree, where smith threw an out and Crabtree continued his route downfield, this is something we haven't seen for a while and is potentially disastrous. Randy Moss was quiet again and I noticed him shaking his head towards the end of the game, I think this was to do with the play calling on the 49ers penultimate drive where instead of throwing on third down and icing the game a designed QB keep was called.
The O-Line bounced back really well from Sunday's disappointment controlling Seattle's highly regarded front 4, and continually opening up the gaps which Gore was able to utilise, and also giving Smith plenty of time to throw, although this was not taken advantage of. The 49ers continued to utilise their mobile offensive lineman, particularly the Guards Mike Iupati and the impressive Alex Boone running a lot of trap and pull plays. The line was bolstered throughout the game by the appearance of extra 'Tight Ends' namely 300+lb DT Will Tukuafu, who was highlighted on TV when he destroyed a Seahawk CB. Additionally the OL was able to contain the considerable threat of the Seahawks pass rush, with only one play where Joe Staley was really beaten by Bruce Irvin, who incidentally I believe the 49ers would have drafted if he was available when they picked in this years draft, and committed a penalty. Smith was sacked twice but these can't be attributed to the OL as they occurred when Alex held onto the ball long, due to good coverage down field in fairness, and ran into trouble. I was pleased the OL had such a good game on national TV as in the past they haven't.
Following their inability to create any pressure on Eli Manning on Sunday I thought the 49ers were able to generate more last night, as I would expect to be fair against the Seahawks OL, however this only attributed to two sacks as Russell Wilson was able to utilise his mobility and escape from some situations where a sack looked likely. For the second game in a row the 49ers allowed a 100 yard rusher as the Seahawks were able to create space for Marshawn Lynch and occasionally Robert Turbin to utilise. In contrast there was also a number of running plays stuffed largely due to Justin Smith being able to break free and getting into the backfield. Smith was his ever menacing presence despite being doubled teamed often by both a OT and OG, and would have recorded his first sack of the season had it not been negated by a penalty. I thought that Ray MacDonald was quiet last night, although I acknowledge it isn't always easy to appreciate the graft/dirty work that the DL put in.
As per usual Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were in the thick of the action, utilising their speed to make tackles all over the field. Willis also had great coverage on a potential TD pass to Braylon Edwards in the 1st Half, helping to force the incompletion. I also noted a few plays were he was able to chase down Lynch as the play progressed. Ahmad Brooks was also relatively quiet but did manage to put considerable pressure on Wilson on the pass that was intercepted by Dashon Goldson. Aldon Smith was also doubled teamed quite a lot throughout this game and was unable to generate a great deal of pressure on Russell Wilson, until the 4th Quarter when he was matched one on one against Breno Giacomini and recorded a sack and would have attributed to a Safety if it wasn't declined. Maybe I'm being a bit picky, and not giving Marshawn Lynch enough credit, but it seemed that Willis and Smith missed a number of tackles where they were unable to bring Lynch down.
The secondary started slowly allowing Russell Wilson to complete passes seemingly at will in the 1st Half. One play that sticks in the memory was a pass to Sidney Rice which went straight over Tarell Brown's head unattested. However, the second half was a complete different story with Wilson only managing to complete a few passes, one of which would have been cancelled had Harbaugh elected to take the Safety awarded for a chop block on Aldon Smith. Dashon Goldson picked up a simple interception on a poorly thrown ball from Wilson and both Carlos Rogers and Chris Culliver broke up passes.
It's no secret that the 49ers kick off return unit has really struggled to date this season. However, the 49ers found a useful way to counter their shortcomings in this area in this game with David Akers putting all 4 of the 49ers kick offs through the End Zone for touchbacks.
The punt return team was exceptional in getting down field, thanks to some characteristic Andy Lee booming punts, and limiting the potentially dangerous Leon Washington to only minimal gains on only the two punts he could return.
Ted Ginn Jnr had a great game for the 49ers averaging 20.5 yards on kick off returns and 23.3 yards on punt returns, almost breaking one for a really big one before being tackled at around the 50 yard line. The combination of Ginn's returning and Lee's punts were key in helping the 49ers win the battle for field position which was key in this game dominated by the two teams dominant defenses.
With 11 days until the game against the Cardinals on Monday Night Football the 49ers need to really work on developing a game plan that utilises their strengths namely the power running game which they were able to do in this game, particularly the 2nd half, and also need to get the TE's involved some more, which they seem to have ignored for the past two games, with Vernon Davis hardly targeted. Defensively I am not convinced that the 49ers pass rush is firing on all cylinders yet, but a match up against the Cardinals porous OL should help to hopefully kick start them.
When this coaching staff has had time to prepare for a game in the past they have really delivered with their game plan, see Week 1 vs GB, and I fully expect this continue against a likely John Skelton led Cardinal team.