Article Title: Seattle's twelfth man a deafening factor.
They say everything happens for a reason right? Well I’m having the most difficult time finding any real reasoning to define the humiliating defeat we suffered at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks under new and improved head coach Pete Carroll 31-6. The noise at Qwest Field was like a rolling tornado of snarls and jeers whenever we had possession of the ball and on top of that communication with Alex Smith’s headset from the sideline was later ruled to be a factor on several of the timeouts called within just the first half of play.
It was beyond embarrassing by any standards as I watched this game with immense disdain for a team that really didn’t operate like any sort I’ve ever seen. The first half was a blur of impressive first impression statistics for us but that rapidly faded away once the miscues in the red zone began to take shape and Alex Smith’s command and presence on the field began to be a serious question I’m still begging to find an answer to. The entire faith one had in Alex Smith turning the corner quickly faded as you analyze the throws he made to a vast array of receivers.
There were many issues to talk about one being the crowd noise, technical difficulties with communication to Smith’s headset via offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye and quarterback’s coach Michael Johnson. When there are electronic difficulties involving the headset the quarterback are supposed to possess back-up plans that they can automatically call at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately most of the trouble came as the 49ers were in third-and -one and or fourth-and-one situations.
Still even more alarming was the actual performance of San Francisco 49er starting quarterback Alex Smith. In particular with his coveted star wide receiver in Michael Crabtree who was beyond pathetic in his attempts to catch the ball and or tackle someone after the ball was tipped and intercepted in a throw to him that was questionable to begin with; as Crabtree’s absence from much of training camp and all of the pre-season games undeniably had a profound effect on his ability to be sharp on this chaotic Sunday.
Michael Crabtree’s two catches for a mere twelve yards is a leading indicator that his neck strain holdout has caused him to be unfamiliar with Alex Smith’s tendencies and it has reduced his chances of being consistently on the same page long-term looking forward until a chemistry is formed. Even Mike Singletary acknowledged that the relationship between Smith and Crabtree would’ve been much improved had the repetitions and hard work been put in prior to the season rather than incurring the pains we see now. The most exciting moment of the game happened in the first quarter with the eight-yard touchdown pass to Josh Morgan that was overturned due to his second foot not being down on the ground as he came down. The catch was breathtaking and it gave all of us a brief moment of glory that was quickly erased.
The red zone pass to 49er fullback Moran Norris who was wide-open from Alex Smith was the most frustrating pass one could ever look at. It was a pass that should never comedown to complete failure because everything that was right at that moment really was. All Smith had to do was put the ball between Norris’s jersey numbers and instead overthrew him by a mile. The poise in the pocket was not there and neither was the accuracy. His completions on nine of his first ten pass attempts abruptly ended as he failed to lead any sort of other touchdown drive and completed just 17-of-35 passes for 144 total yards and with the addition of two interceptions as well. Both of his interceptions resulted in touchdowns for the Seattle Seahawks right after leading two previous scoring drives that resulted in just two field goals.
Mike Singletary is sticking by his starting quarterback believing that he was seen to be pressing too much as the game entered the second half. This being his sixth season with the team in my opinion deflates the notion that pressing should ever be a legitimate excuse for this star athlete. Being (the) starting quarterback and now a captain to your team defines you as being someone the rest can rely upon in any real pressure type situation. I believe he seriously degraded that in his abysmal performance here this past Sunday.
The newly drafted rookies on the offensive line were yet another story of paying all that money for and getting very little on your return. The noise at Qwest Field had a profound effect upon the rookies as Anthony Davis gave up two sacks and one forced-fumble. He also had a false start as a result of the noise as well. Veteran right guard Chilo Rachal went out missing half the game due to a stinger with Adam Snyder filling in for most of the game at his position. Still even worse as the 49ers fell further behind and had to resort to passing more which really exposed its vulnerabilities to Pete Carroll’s specialized pass rush packages.
Frank Gore who normally executes well against the Seattle Seahawks historically was limited to 17 carries for 38 total yards averaging 2.2-yards per carry as the 49ers run game sputtered to 49 total yards on the game and the Seattle Seahawk defensive line penetrated time and time again to blow-up any sort of conceived attack Jimmy Raye could come up with. The 49ers incurred eight penalties for a loss of 60 total yards and were 1-15 in third down conversions and 2-3 on fourth downs as well.
Defensively the San Francisco 49ers seemed like they were going to contribute as on the first Seattle Seahawk drive of the game Nate Clements intercepted a Matt Hasselback pass and had returned it deep in Seattle territory. However he was called for holding and not in position which resulted in blown coverage that eventually led to a Seattle touchdown as it did to safety Tarell Brown who was also caught napping out of position. The Seattle Seahawk running game was held in check at 77 total yards but they had 242 total yards through the air and converted on 5-out-of-11 on third downs and capitalized on both penalties and turnovers. Matt Hasslback was sacked only once by Travis LaBoy as Patrick Willis led the tackling with ten as his efforts never cease to amaze me.
We can get caught up in the hype over this tragic defeat and easily be manipulated into believing that we are no better than what we were two seasons ago with the departure of Mike Nolan as head coach. Mike Singletary knows that the game clock on ours and his expectations is clicking downward to a stage where results are the only real standard we both want to know. Simple truth is told Alex Smith has to step-up and or shut-up. Self-confidence under fire Smith has to be the identified leader the San Francisco 49er organization under Jed York has laid faith in for six solid seasons of utter futility one season right after another.
Right now they’ve surrounded him with some of the best talent money can buy. All the offensive pieces are now in place like a well orchestrated chess game. Weapons of mass destruction are at his finger tips, yet those fingers must have an eye and a mechanism that provides thrust behind the ball to its definitive selected target without hesitation. The cracks in the Alex Smith foundation that this franchise has laid down all around him are becoming more and more defined. Seattle’s twelfth man on the field this day helped define this victory and should be a focal point for all 49er fans at Candlestick to consider being like as long as the team on the field actually plays like one and is led by one.
Sources of Information: Mercury News.com, SF Gate.com, Inside Bay Area.com, NFL.com and my own personal analysis and opinion.