SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Kill the obits on the Seahawks’ 2021 season.
One thing coach Pete Carroll has always said is a point of pride is that the Seahawks are hard to beat.
That doesn’t mean they always play well, simply that you’d better play well if you are going to beat them.
The 49ers racked up lots of yards early in this one but didn’t convert them into points.
And when the 49ers further opened the door with a flurry of mistakes, Seattle finally pushed through it for a victory as important as any might be this season.
On to some grades:
The Seahawks not only had the better quarterback on the field throughout, but also the one who didn’t make mistakes.
And in the third quarter, Russell Wilson made two plays that set him apart from most of the rest of the league — a scramble for a touchdown that put Seattle ahead and a Houdini act for a touchdown pass to Freddie Swain that made it 21-7.
Carroll also later volunteered how Wilson does so many things that many don’t see in setting protections and getting Seattle in the right plays. It took a little while for all of that to get dialed in Sunday. But once it did, the Seattle offense was solid — going 4 for 4 on red-zone opportunities — which is where quarterbacks truly make their money.
It seemed evident Seattle wanted to establish Chris Carson early after the running game lagged last week.
But it was reserve Alex Collins who was the star, continuing a career revival by sparking the offense once he got some regular playing time in the second quarter.
Collins accounted for Seattle’s first first down of the game on a 28-yard swing pass that he broke into the open late in the second quarter, then had the clinching touchdown on a 14-yarder through traffic in the fourth quarter. He finished with a team-high 44 yards on 10 carries.
Tyler Lockett (hip) and DK Metcalf (foot) started despite being on the injury report at the end of the week (with Lockett listed as questionable).
But neither seemed overly hindered.
Lockett had just 24 yards receiving but drew a pass-interference penalty in the fourth quarter that led to a touchdown.
Metcalf looked just fine when he had two receptions that sparked Seattle’s first scoring drive in the second quarter, when he scored on a 12-yard pass.
Metcalf, though, might have had a bigger day had he held on to a deep pass down the sideline from Wilson in the third quarter.
And Freddie Swain continues to emerge as a viable third option, with 20 yards on three catches Sunday, including the 13-yard scoring pass from Wilson in the third quarter.
Gerald Everett remained on the reserve COVID-19 list, meaning Colby Parkinson and Tyler Mabry were the backups to Will Dissly.
Dissly caught two passes for 5 yards, and Parkinson didn’t get a target in the most significant action he has seen — he got 51 snaps last year and missed the first three games of the season.
It was ugly early, as Wilson was sacked three times on third downs on three consecutive possessions in the first half.
But the line adjusted. The 49ers didn’t record another sack, and the running game got going.
Jamarco Jones, who started last week at right tackle for the injured Brandon Shell, came up ill before the game, which opened the door for veteran Cedric Ogbuehi to start.
Ogbuehi got beat for a sack by Dee Ford to end Seattle’s second series of the game. And left tackle Duane Brown was beat by Nick Bosa for a sack to end Seattle’s third series.
But the game turned once the Seahawks figured out the 49ers’ blitzes and Seattle also went more up-tempo to slow the San Francisco rush.
Seattle again started with a five-man defensive line — Alton Robinson, Kerry Hyder, Poona Ford, Al Woods and Rasheem Green.
The 49ers had some success running early, but the overall effectiveness of the San Francisco running game diminished as the game progressed.
And once the Seahawks got the lead they began to tee off. Woods had two quarterback hits, and Darrell Taylor added a sack in the fourth quarter, his third of the season.
Hyder made a nice play to snuff San Francisco’s last chance, a fourth-and-two fly sweep by Deebo Samuel that went for a yard.
Bobby Wagner led the Seahawks with 10 tackles. And as he’d promised during the week, the Seahawks better defended screen passes, a staple of the 49ers offense and something Seattle struggled against the week before. The Seahawks also limited 49ers tight end George Kittle, as he had just four catches for 40 yards on 11 targets, in coverage the linebackers shared.
Jordyn Brooks had a sack on the first play of the second quarter that helped derail a 49ers drive.
After three games of struggles, the Seahawks shook things up in the secondary, with Sidney Jones getting his first start on the left side and D.J. Reed moving from the left side to the right. Tre Flowers headed to the bench.
Evidence of better play: The Seahawks had four pass defenses in the first half and nine for the game after having just five in the first three games, and they recorded their first interception of the season, by Quandre Diggs in the first quarter.
Still, there were issues — Jones appeared to blow the coverage on a 76-yard touchdown to Deebo Samuel in the third quarter (it appeared he followed the wrong receiver in the zone defense) and was beaten for a TD to Ross Dwelley in the first quarter.
But overall, this was the best performance of the season from the secondary.
Seattle went regularly with a dime defense on third-and-long situations, with Ryan Neal in as a sixth defensive back and Brooks off the field. Neal had a breakup on a pass in the second quarter and four tackles overall.
And Jamal Adams had one of his better games in coverage, breaking hard on passes throughout, almost picking off a pass in the second quarter and finishing with six tackles and a pass breakup.
Seattle had a decided edge here. Michael Dickson averaged 50.6 yards per punt, a key early when the offense was struggling.
Seattle caught a break with San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould suffering a hamstring injury during warm-ups. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky had to kick and missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter.
And there were the two bad plays by San Francisco returner Trenton Cannon that helped turn the game — his misplay of a punt that turned into a touchback instead of Seattle ball at the 1-yard line, and then his fumble on a kickoff that gave the Seahawks the ball at the 14 when recovered by undrafted rookie Jon Rhattigan.
Seattle also had solid coverage throughout, highlighted by a hard hit by Nick Bellore on a kickoff.