For a half-plus, the Seahawks looked like their old selves, clicking on offense and dominating on defense. Then Russell Wilson got hurt and missed the rest of the game.

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Consider Sunday simply the latest lesson in how quickly things can change in the NFL.

While the Seahawks were rediscovering their offense and blowing out the 49ers, their perceived top rivals in the NFC West – the Arizona Cardinals — were suffering a surprising defeat at Buffalo.

That left the Seahawks and Rams tied for the NFC West lead at 2-1, with the Cardinals at 1-2 — and Los Angeles and Arizona set to play next week in Glendale.

Now, back to hoping Russell Wilson’s knee is really as OK as he spent the bulk of his postgame news conference insisting.


Wilson was electric during the two-plus quarters he played, completing 15 of 23 passes for 243 yards as the Seattle offense for the first time this season looked like the one that caught fire late last year.

Wilson was 14 of 19 for 233 yards in the first half alone when the Seahawks averaged 16.6 yards per reception.

In fact, Seattle did pretty much everything Sunday it hadn’t in the first two games: running at will, getting big plays in the passing game, and picking up third downs whether short or long in racking up 311 yards by halftime after averaging 329 in the first two games.

Consider that on four plays of third-and-10 or longer in the first half, the Seahawks picked up 12, 18, 59 and 40 yards. Seattle finished the game 9 of 14 on third down, 6 of 8 in the first half.

Doug Baldwin, meanwhile, set a career-high with 164 yards on eight receptions and Jimmy Graham, looking indeed fully back to health, had one of his best games as a Seahawk with six catches for 100 yards.

The oft-maligned offensive line played its best game of the season, giving Wilson time on the deep throws and opening up big holes for Christine Michael, who had a career-high 106 yards on 20 carries.

The Seahawks were particularly effective early on running to the left side behind tackle Bradley Sowell and guard Mark Glowinski.

Until the knee injury, Wilson looked noticeably more spry, which not only opened up the playbook a bit more but also allowed Wilson to use his legs to make the kinds of plays on which this offense thrives.

The Seahawks, who earlier in the week released fullback Will Tukuafu, showed some creativity to fill that void, using tight end Luke Willson to fulfill some fullback-like roles.

When Wilson departed, rookie Trevone Boykin saw his first action and showed the poise that’s intrigued the team about him from the start, leading a touchdown drive on his second full series. A later interception, though, also showed continued room for growth.

GRADE: A-minus.


In what was one of his better games of the past few years, Kam Chancellor set a tone for kind of day it would be for each side with a punishing hit that knocked 49ers tight end Vance McDonald out of the game on what was San Francisco’s second offensive play.

Chancellor was just one of many heroes for a defense that for three quarters lived up to its billing — both statistically and one it proudly proclaims on its own — as the best in the NFL.

The 49ers were held to 9 or fewer yards on six of their first 10 drives, with none going more than 40.

Cornerback Richard Sherman again moved around to cover Torrey Smith and held him in check (Smith had three catches for 35 yards, at least one coming against a zone).

The defense came up big the only time there threatened to be any real drama in the game after Graham fumbled the ball away at the 30, forcing the 49ers to settle for a field goal that made it 14-3 early in the second quarter.

The Seahawks also got their first turnover of the season on an interception of a bobbled pass by Bobby Wagner in the third quarter.

The defense, though, departed unhappily after Carlos Hyde sparked two late scoring drives and finished with 103 yards on 21 carries — the first running back to top the 100-yard mark against Seattle since Kansas City’s Jamal Charles on Nov. 16, 2014.

Hyde, though, had just 36 yards on 12 carries until the final two drives, which spoke more loudly about the defensive effort Sunday.

GRADE: A-minus.


The blowout meant that special teams ultimately weren’t a huge factor.

But there were still a few highlights for Seattle, notably Tyler Lockett’s zigging and zagging 62-yard punt return in the third quarter, one on which he might have scored had he not been wearing a knee brace to protect a sprain suffered the previous week.

To take some of the heat off Lockett, wide receiver Paul Richardson returned kickoffs.

Seattle’s coverage units were fine and Steven Hauschka made all three of his field-goal attempts

GRADE: B-plus.