James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports


49ers vs. Seahawks: Positional game grades from ugly Week 13 loss

Dec 2, 2018 at 5:49 PM1


The San Francisco 49ers lost in ugly fashion to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, losing 43-16 in a game marked by more mistakes and poor play on both sides of the ball.


The San Francisco 49ers have now lost 10 games in a season for the fourth year in a row after falling 43-16 to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13. And that score makes the game sound closer than it actually was, particularly after head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad fell behind 20-3 in the first half.

Despite some comeback attempts in the second half, the Niners still committed a lot of mistakes on both sides of the ball. And with a roster full of holes and dealing with a slew of injuries, those gaffes would end up being problematic for a team not equipped to absorb them.

Let's try to grade this out by position, shall we?

Quarterback


After looking completely outmatched against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week, quarterback Nick Mullens managed to hold his own despite all sorts of pressure from the Seahawks' front seven over the first half. He finished 30-of-48 for 414 yards, two touchdowns against an interception and a passer rating of 95.3, although many of those numbers came during garbage time in the second half when Seattle was already up big.

His 98-yard interception, returned for a touchdown by linebacker Bobby Wagner, was a pretty big gaffe. It didn't change the impact of the game, though, rather just added to the list of 49ers mistakes.

Regardless, Mullens managed to look poised enough against a solid Seahawks defense, amid a hostile environment and with a slew of mistakes from his supporting cast -- good enough to earn another start in Week 14.

Grade: C+

Running Back


Running back Jeff Wilson, not Matt Breida, was the biggest Niners star on the ground. Wilson rushed for 61 yards on 15 carries and also added 73 yards receiving. Unfortunately, Wilson apparently fumbled on Seattle's 5-yard line in the first half, and Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner recovered it. Replay seemed to show Wilson was down, but there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the fumble call on the field. Tough break for San Francisco.

Breida, meanwhile, re-aggravated his ankle injury during warmups and was limited to just six yards on five carries. He did have 51 receiving yards on three catches, though.

Against the Seahawks' league-worst run defense, however, one would have expected a lot more from the Niners' rushing efforts.

Grade: C

Wide Receiver


With wide receivers Marquise Goodwin (personal) and Pierre Garçon (knee) out for the second consecutive week, rookie wideout Dante Pettis certainly made the most of his opportunities. His 75-yard fourth-quarter touchdown might have been in garbage time, but it was nonetheless impressive:


His first score was impressive too:


Fellow wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, also benefiting from Goodwin's and Garçon's absences, added 60 yards of his own.

Grade: B+

Tight End


Tight end George Kittle was held to 70 yards on six catches. Seattle appeared to make it a point to limit him from being a factor in the contest.

Grade: C

Offensive Line


Left guard Laken Tomlinson missed an assignment early in the first quarter, leading to a sack on Mullens by Wagner. And he gave up another sack in the third quarter too, although Mullens didn't help his own cause. Left tackle Joe Staley also had a rare false start but generally held up well in pass protection against EDGE Frank Clark.

But there was this from center Weston Richburg, who hasn't exactly lived up to his lofty free-agent deal signed last offseason:


Grade: C-

Defensive Line


It was good to see defensive tackle DeForest Buckner record two sacks, while fellow defensive lineman Ronald Blair added one of his own. Still, the pass rush remains a major issue, as there was very little outside pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson otherwise.

What was worse, though, was the fact Seattle managed to rush for 168 yards and averaged 5.8 yards per attempt. Stopping the run has been one of San Francisco's better defensive strengths this season, and it wasn't on display in Week 13.

Grade: D+

Linebacker


Um, what was linebacker Malcolm Smith doing in coverage on wide receiver Tyler Lockett's 52-yard touchdown catch?


In fairness to Smith, he was in decent positioning on the play. The problem, though, is he shouldn't have been there. That's on the defensive play callers. Smith was also flagged for a late hit on Wilson, who gave himself up on a rush. The Seahawks then scored later that drive.

Linebacker Fred Warner led all 49ers defenders with eight tackles. But Smith's mistakes continue to hurt. He's been a disappointment since signing as a free agent in 2017.

Grade: D-

Secondary


It took a while for the Seahawks to target cornerback Richard Sherman. When they did, it was early in the fourth quarter and by Brown, who hauled in an 18-yard touchdown at the 14:24 mark.

But fellow cornerbacks Ahkello Witherspoon and K'Waun Williams were more prone to difficulties, each being flagged for pass-interference calls on the game, which led to Seattle points. The 49ers also elected to start Jaquiski Tartt at free safety, inserting the rookie, Marcell Harris, at strong safety instead. Harris had his tackling issues, which may be explained by the fact that he missed most of the year with an Achilles injury.

Tartt, meanwhile, failed to provide that over-the-top coverage on Lockett's touchdown.

Grade: F

Special Teams


At least kicker Robbie Gould was perfect, going 2-of-2 on field-goal tries.

But Richie James muffed a punt, which Seattle recovered. That hurt. And it led to Shanahan switching out James for Trent Taylor on returns. But what has been more problematic this season has been San Francisco's blocking on punts, which has limited most return chances all year long.

Oh, and giving up an opening kickoff return for a touchdown to start the third quarter doesn't help matters either.

Grade: F

Coaching


Well, kudos to Shanahan for revealing a bit of emotion after the game was getting out of hand -- an NFL equivalent of an NBA head coach getting a technical:


You can't say that to an official, Kyle.

Injuries and penalties -- themes for the 49ers all year long -- continued to be a problem, though. The Niners committed 13 for 128 yards during the game, and many of those were of the pre-snap variety. That's on Shanahan, unfortunately. But the head coach does deserve some credit for instilling some second-half offensive fight when the game was well out of reach.

Defensively, though, coordinator Robert Saleh's future isn't going to look much better. Especially after a number of blown coverages, including the one involving Smith. Sure, there is an overwhelming lack of talent on this side of the ball. But Saleh isn't exactly putting what players he has into a position to succeed.

Grade: D-
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
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.


1 Comment

  • Paul
    I don’t think the defensive talent is as bad as you think, but Saleh is an F- over two years. Start cutting turnover prone players, or at least bench them for the remainder of the game. Run more and keep the defense off the field. The penalties are ridiculous.
    Dec 2, 2018 at 7:50 PM
    1

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