The Seahawks graded out much as you'd expect after a 43-16 rout of the San Francisco 49ers. But, there are still things they need to work on.
Pete Carroll has seen enough in a coaching career that dates to 1974 to never assume anything.
“We’re nowhere,’’ he insisted when asked about the team’s playoff positioning after Seattle’s 43-16 victory over the 49ers on Sunday.
That could pretty much change next week, though.
According to the analytic site FiveThirtyEight.com, Seattle has an 86 percent chance of making the playoffs after beating the 49ers to improve its record to 7-5. This, coupled with defeats by other teams vying for wild-card spots — notably Minnesota, which began the day ahead of Seattle but lost to the Patriots to fall to 6-5-1, and Carolina — helped Seattle.
But should the Seahawks beat the Vikings next Monday night, fans can begin making playoff plans. According to FiveThirtyEight, a victory over the Vikings would give Seattle a 97 percent chance to make the playoffs.
Save for a few plays here and there, the Seahawks generally looked the part of a playoff team Sunday.
Here are grades.
Russell Wilson could hardly have been more efficient, throwing three touchdowns on six first-half passes and then four on his first 11. He finished 11 of 17 for 185 yards, four touchdown, no picks and a passer rating of 140.9. The only thing to quibble was him not getting rid of the ball quickly enough on a couple of sacks late in the game. “We held the ball a little bit just trying to make some plays,’’ Carroll said. Wilson, though, now has a 29-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the season, and he’s 24-to-3 in that department since the second game of the year, as big a key as any to Seattle’s 7-3 mark in that time.
After being held to 75 rushing yards by Carolina, the Seahawks got back on track with the run game against the 49ers. Seattle had 168 rushing yards and a 5.8-yard-per-carry average. It was the eighth time in the past nine weeks the Seahawks had 155 yards or more rushing and will maintain their spot at the top of the NFL in rushing (Seattle now is averaging 148.8 per game). Chris Carson led the way with 69 yards, but the nicer sight was a bounce-back game for rookie Rashaad Penny, who had 65 yards on seven attempts, including a 20-yard touchdown.
The receivers weren’t asked to do a ton — just 10 targets thrown their way on 49 plays — but they executed what was asked of them with flying colors. Tyler Lockett had a 52-yard touchdown on his only reception and now has nine for the season while Jaron Brown had his best game as a Seahawk, with three catches on three targets for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Doug Baldwin added his second touchdown of the year and Seattle also forced three defensive pass interference penalties.
Not a huge stat day here — Nick Vannett had the only catch, good for 4 yards. But they obviously helped the run game greatly.
Carroll raved later about the protection Wilson got, especially on the couple of big plays early that helped break the game open. And the running game also looked mostly as it had all season, especially as the game wore on. Duane Brown said the Seahawks did more running on the edges, seeing that the 49ers were loading up the box. One negative was five holding penalties, one false start and one illegal man downfield penalty, all on the offensive line.
The Seahawks played without tackle Shamar Stephen, a starter all year, who sat out with a lingering foot injury. No matter, for the most part, as the Seahawks held the 49ers to just 66 yards rushing and 2.9 yards per carry, with no run of longer than 11 yards. The Seahawks also got more pressure on the quarterback than last week – when they did not have a single quarterback hit on Cam Newton. Bringing the linebackers more to blitz helped out, and the Seahawks finished with a season-high 15 quarterback hits. This was another Pro Bowl-resume-building game for Jarran Reed, who had six quarterback hits and a sack. And rookie Poona Ford got the start in place of Stephen and had four tackles, all solo. Frank Clark also had three quarterback hits.
Bobby Wagner had one of the best statistical games in recent Seattle history with an interception return for a touchdown, a forced fumble and recovery, a sack, and 12 tackles. It might well have been the best game of his storied career. It definitely was the best game of Austin Calitro’s young career — the weakside linebacker had 10 tackles.
If you’re looking for a sore spot, this was it. The Seahawks missed a few too many tackles in the secondary to help account for more than a few of the 49ers’ 386 net passing yards — by far the most Seattle has allowed this season. All but 105 of those came in the second half though, and Carroll didn’t seem overly concerned later, noting Seattle was playing with a sizeable lead throughout. Still, there continues to be some things to shore up in the back end.
Lockett finally had a breakout kickoff return with an 84-yarder to start the second half. That led to a touchdown that finally broke the 49ers’ back. Michael Dickson had another solid day with four punts for a net of 46.5 yards (aided by some good tackling by Maurice Alexander and Justin Coleman). It was easy to overlook, though, that Sebastian Janikowski missed two extra points — his first two PAT misses of the season after having made 33 in a row. Luckily, it didn’t matter on this day.