BY Art Thiel 11:11PM 10/22/2015

Thiel: Seahawks remember how to impose will

There was little choice in the matter: Either the Seahawks would revert to their natural state, or they would ruin the season. Fortunately, the inept 49ers were helpful in restoring order.

From an earlier game, but little has changed: The Seahawks defense had its way with the 49ers. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest file

The 49ers are in such a state of disrepair that it would be easy to dismiss any victory over them as truck over pavement. But Thursday night in Santa Clara, CA.,  was a bigger deal than the 20-3 outcome indicated because the Seahawks had been engaged in a mild form of self-destruction — losing games exactly how they usually win them.

They had to overcome a bad home loss, a short work week, a teammate’s car accident and the nagging thought that the swagger that defined them was slipping away for reasons that no one quite understood. Hey, 2-4 is 2-4, no matter the closeness of outcome or quality of opponent.

Because it was mission-critical, they had to bang hard on someone. Just happened to be the 49ers.

“Too much story to tell yet; too many things to happen,” said QB Russell Wilson of the prospect of another failure that would have ruined the season. “We had to choose and we chose to believe, in ourselves and each other.”

Hackneyed as it sounds, Wilson was right: What had to happen, happened.

On the first drive, they loaded up on RB Marshawn Lynch and pounded with straight-ahead, I-formation, Midwest football that would have made Woody Hayes proud. On the defense’s first series, they bull-rushed DEs Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril so ferociously that Niners QB Colin Kaepernick for the rest of the game played scared, never once choosing to run the ball.

After that, the 49ers were game-dead.

The Seahawks imposed their will. Like old times.

“It was nice to see us run the ball with authority,” said a satisfied coach, Pete Carroll. “It was a normal Seahawks night.”

It was normal because Lynch ran for 122 soul-crushing yards, clearly his healthiest, most inspired game of the year. At his best, Lynch is a marvel. After that remarkable first series of 80 yards in which he carried nine times for 38 yards, including the final yard for a touchdown by going airborne over the goal line, he was so wound up that the national TV cameras caught him on the sidelines vomiting in a bucket.

“That first drive got him going,”  Carroll said. “It gassed him a little bit. Marshawn was really solid. It was really great to run the football like that, hammering it in.”

The 49ers over the years must have learned to hate tackling the guy.

And they must hate blocking DE Michael Bennett, who had 3½ sacks and undoubtedly worked his way into Kaepernick’s nightmares.

“He’s such a great disrupter,” Carroll said. “He was causing problems even when he wasn’t gettting to the quarterback.”

Kaepernick was sacked six times, the 49ers had 142 yards of offense and more punts (nine) than first downs (eight). Most important, the Seahawks smothered the 49ers late, in contrast to the four losses in which the Seahawks gave up fourth-quarter leads.

Carroll was so upset about that disruption of team order that he was almost indignant talking about the failures.

“That was normal,” he said of the shutdown. “That’s the way we’re supposed to do it. Not making a big deal about that. We should be finishing like that.”

But it was a big deal, because they had not been finishing off teams. After the galling failures late against two good teams, Cincinnati and Carolina, Carroll was desperate to put the universe as he sees it in proper order.

The victory was a start, not a finish, particularly when Wilson spoiled the feel-good buzz with two interceptions, including a horrendous deep chuck to WR Jermaine Kearse in the third quarter that was into double coverage and had no chance.

“The last time he did that was against Arizona in his first game,” Carroll said. “I was really disappointed in that long ball. We don’t need to throw ball like that.”

Not everything was fixed with the win. But an important thing was remembered: How to impose will.


  • Gerald Turner

    This offense, (with this offensive line), only works with Beast mode and Russel. The make the plays while we wait for the offensive line to grow up. I believe Tom Cable is a hall of fame offensive line coach. He will have that motley group up to solid by the end of the year. Huge test against the Cowboys front 7 coming up, and those two are going to have to carry the team again. No Romo is the lucky break that has been missing last few 4th quarters, now to capitlize.

    • Pixdawg13

      “No Romo…” – I’ve been watching the NFL over 50 years and in all that time there’s never been a more over-rated QB than Tony Romo.

      • art thiel

        I submit that he’s been a top 10 QB all along.

        • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

          Well mister moneybags(Cowboy head~Jones)pays him like a top 10 talent
          anyway….he is far better than what they have normally holding a clip
          board but its usually that way with most teams unless you are the

        • Lodowick

          I agree. We can see how the Boys are doing without Romo. Kind of like the Colts in their first year without Manning.

  • 1coolguy

    Best pass play of the game: Wilson to Lockett for TD
    Worst pass play of the game: Kearse not pushing/tackling the DB to prevent the interception at the 12. He saw the ball and just slowed down and watched the interception. Weak baby, weak!

    As for the Oline, talk about a dual personality – We had a good rushing game, therefore there was run blocking. The more difficult pass blocking though, allowed another five sacks, keeping the Hawks #1 in that category. Bailey playing left guard thought he was playing “matador”, waving by so many edge rushers. I saw two (2) sacks that were both whiffs on his man who then sacked RW. There may have been more. Wow, what a stooge. I hope he has never played right guard before today, as it clearly showed.
    Player of the game: TIED between Bennett and his 3 1/2 sacks and Sherman with his shutout of their #1 receiver, Torrey Smith.

    • art thiel

      Gilliam and Okung were playing hurt. Even when healthy, these guys next time and experience.

  • jafabian

    This was a game they should win. Same old problems though. Only 2 TD’s and Wilson was sacked 5x, had 2 picks (one on a very poor decision by Wilson) and had a 84.5 QBR for the game. Vernon Davis had a good game when he’s been largely ignored this season as well as last year. Who was on him???

    You can say a win is a win but it seems like there’s still work to do within the team.

    • MrPrimeMinister

      I agree, that one pass he threw was just an amateur ball. It could have sealed the win by halftime. Instead, they had to grind it out in the 2nd half, as opoosed to playing reserves.

      • art thiel

        As you read, Carroll was pissed off about that play too. Apparently, Kearse thought RW was running, and quit on his route, then restarted.

        • MrPrimeMinister

          Nope, the other INT in the back of the endzone before halftime. that one was inexcusable.

          • art thiel

            Ah. Poor too, but lots of QBs make the misread in tight quarters.

    • art thiel

      No four-loss team gets well in one game. The line isn’t going to get to average until December, if then.

      • jafabian

        I’m not quite sure if the sacks are due to the problems on the line or Wilson not trusting them and scrambling too early. They definitely aren’t on the same page.

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  • ll9956

    It was a win alright, and that is very feel-good after two disastrous losses, but the score of the second half was 3-3. At least there was no fourth quarter swoon.

    The defense was superb, but the offense was just good. Nevertheless after a short week to prepare, and having to travel, they played well overall. I expect they’ll have their hands full at Dallas who’ve lost 3 in a row. Regardless of how they do this Sunday, they will be hungry. I hope the Hawks rise to the occasion.

    • art thiel

      Good that you noted short week obstacles. A big deal to get past.

  • ss

    The defense found their ‘finish.’ The offense mustered a whopping 3 points only in the second half. Seems Cable teaches run blocking well, but pass blocking…? 5 sacks?

    • art thiel

      OLine requires coaching, talent, experience and time. Patience, please.

      • ss

        Isn’t patience something virtuous people are supposed to have?

        • art thiel

          Dunno about virtuous. I think that was banned some time ago.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    We beat those Santa Clarans like a Bass Drum….or one of those Native American
    drums if you will that Marshawn was slapping on at the SB parade….
    If ever the Defense needed to come together like this after the recent 4th Qtr miscues ~tonight was the game.
    Its human nature to have doubt creep in but they rose to the occasion.
    The 49ers in the past have been so brash and cocky…nice to see them served Humble pie.
    of brash and Cocky?The Cowboys have sucked so far this year but you can
    bet they will dish out the brash and cocky when they face our guys in
    their bldg.
    The Cowpokes self love makes me swoon.
    This is a great win and the defense needs to work their fannies off to deal the Cowboys
    a similar effort………..1 game that should be a brouhaha(@Hawk Win).
    Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      If there’s one team that’s been brash and cocky . . .

  • Warchild_70

    RW is going to play with a walker if he keeps getting pancaked like every game so far! I loved that razzle dazzle go for broke play this game looked like they were toying with them. Lots of room though to improve but a good win anyhow. GO HAWKS!!!!

    • art thiel

      They’ve been trying to hit Lockett deep for three games to prove to opposing DCs that they can actually do it. Defenses know that that Seahawks O-line is so weak that the rush can get to Wilson before he can set up for 5-7 step drops.

  • It was a fun game to watch for us Seahawk fan types. Nice to get a ‘W,’ but the 49ers looked sad from the very beginning. I almost felt sorry for young Mr. Kaepernick. He looked bewildered from start to finish. I kinda miss having Harbaugh there to hate.

    • dingle

      You don’t miss Harbaugh nearly as much as ‘Niner fans do down here. For a while, they were really angry. Now that reality has set in, and they realize they’re witnessing a tire fire of Everett proportions, they’re just depressed.

      Evidence so far says that The Building Superintendent is not head-coach material.

      • Lodowick

        Nice twist on the usual, staid ‘EVEREST’ proportions. The 49er’s coach taking the field goal simply to avoid a shut out is almost like drinking the Jim Jones kool aid so he doesn’t have to witness anymore ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ QB play. This coach won’t last.

        • art thiel

          The owner doesn’t want a high-maintenance personality for a coach. He got it.

      • art thiel

        Tomsula is a guy York likes personally. Not a reason to make him head coach.

        • dingle

          True dat.

          In all fairness to Tomsula, though, he doesn’t have a lot to work with. The talent level is significantly diminished from last year (a team that went a pedestrian 8-8, remember, under The Difficult One). So I’d assign Trent Baalke a good portion of the blame, as well as plain old crappy luck and circumstances.

    • art thiel

      Still wearing my black armband for Harbaugh’s departure.

      • I can’t bring myself to hate Tomsula. He looks confused, and a little like he’s suffering from an intestinal disorder. That York fellow is no Eddie De Bartolo by any stretch. It’s sad. I was a 49ers fan back in the day. Back when the Hawks were AFC, SF was my NFC team. This year I don’t even hate them. There’s a hole. Maybe I can convince myself to hate AZ or the Rams. Oh, the pain of it all.