In a bittersweet affair, the San Francisco 49ers convincingly handled the Seattle Seahawks by a final score of 27-20. In the process, the 49ers lost starting quarterback Trey Lance for the season after Lance suffered an ankle injury on a rushing attempt early in the first quarter.
There were a lot of raw emotions following this game and plenty of takeaways to be had, but I am going to start with the obvious one at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Jimmy Garoppolo returns
Garoppolo’s return to the team just before the start of the regular season provided an extremely valuable safety blanket, giving the 49ers a premium insurance policy at the quarterback position should a broken glass in case of an emergency situation arise during the season.
That situation presented itself much earlier than anyone could have predicted. Losing Lance is devastating, but having a capable backup who is extremely familiar with the offense and the personnel is probably the only silver lining you can take away from a tragic injury like this happening to your franchise’s future.
Garoppolo came in and allowed the 49ers to weather the storm while the 70 thousand plus on hand at Levi’s stadium absorbed the shock of watching their young starting quarterback get carted off the field.
Garoppolo started 4/4 for 70 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ross Dwelley to push the 49ers’ lead to 13-0. Garoppolo’s final stat line was 13/21 for 154 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. It also included a rushing touchdown on a quarterback sneak that put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
It was a clean game for the most part from Garoppolo, and if he can play at the level he did today, then there is no reason to doubt that the 49ers are still on a similar trajectory to double-digit wins a playoff birth.
September 11th, 2011
That was the last time the 49ers had beaten the Seahawks by double-digits. It was a 33-17 win at Candlestick Park and the first game of the Jim Harbaugh era in San Francisco. Eleven years and 22 meetings between those teams since the last time the 49ers were able to deliver a beatdown of the same caliber as they did today.
This “rivalry” has been almost as one-sided as it gets for the past decade, with Seattle winning 17 of the last 21 meetings before today’s game. The 49ers hadn’t won a game by any margin against Seattle since their epic Week 17 showdown to close out the 2019 season.
Excluding the gut-wrenching loss of Lance, this was a game that the 49ers and their fans have been waiting on for a long time. The proud members of the faithful have been at the mercy of the 12th man for far too long, and this was the kind of win that felt like it signaled the end of an era and the start of a new one.
Perhaps it’s the 49ers’ turn to dominate the next decade in this divisional matchup, and this could potentially be the game that kick-starts it.
Perfectly balanced as all things should be
The 49ers’ offense finished Sunday’s win with 373 yards of total offense, and the splits on the ground and through the air were nearly identical. Shanahan’s offense ran the ball 45 times for 189 yards at a clip of 4.2 yards per carry, and passed for 184 yards on an average of 7.7 yards per attempt.
The 49ers controlled the clock in this one, dominating the time of possession 38:20 to 21:40. They had five drives during which they ran a minimum of seven plays, and their ability to consistently sustain drives in spite of an abrupt change at quarterback mid-game was certainly encouraging.
San Francisco racked up 25 first downs and converted on multiple fourth-down attempts in this game as well. The only real blemish was not capitalizing when the field shrunk, as they finished this game only getting in the end zone twice on their five red zone attempts. But, all in all, it was a balanced attack that played the brand of football that has correlated with the 49ers’ greatest success since Shanahan has been at the helm.
This defense is championship caliber
The 49ers’ defense effectively pitched a shutout in this one, as the only points Seattle scored in this game came on a blocked field goal return for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
The 49ers held the Seahawks to 216 yards of offense in this one, a number that shrinks to just 185 if you take away the game’s final drive which was effectively garbage time as both teams were essentially running the clock out.
Seattle was held to just 36 rushing yards on a paltry 2.6 yards per carry, and their passing attack was never able to generate any kind of consistent rhythm either. The pass rush gave Geno Smith fits all afternoon with Nick Bosa recording seven pressures and two sacks while terrorizing Seattle’s rookie tackles all afternoon.
Mooney Ward and Tashaun Gipson each recorded an interception, and Talanoa Hufanga continued his week one excellence with yet another impressive performance. Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, and Kevin Givens each had standout plays on the interior, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw was all over the field at the second level.
This team is stacked on the defensive side of the ball, and we haven’t even seen them at full strength yet in the absence of Jimmie Ward. As of now, they look every bit the part of a unit that is capable of propelling this team on a deep playoff run in 2022.
They stayed out of their own way
Last and most importantly, the 49ers were able to avoid the self-inflicted mistakes that had doomed them in Chicago the week prior. After being penalized 12 times in their week one loss to the Bears, the 49ers were flagged just one time against the Seahawks.
When they don’t beat themselves, the 49ers are one of the toughest challenges in the entire NFL for any team that takes the field against them. After a horrid performance to start the year, they bounced right back and played a clean brand of football that netted them a 20-point win over a divisional foe.