BY Art Thiel 09:01PM 12/16/2018

Thiel: Charlie Brown kicks FG, beats Seahawks

The Seahawks were on a four-game win streak, plus a 10-gamer over the woeful 49ers. That all came crashing down with a club-record 148 yards of penalties.

In 2014, Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson carried into the Candlestick Park tunnel the rewards of an on-field turkey dinner provided by NBC post-game after a Seahawks win. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

As many large things as the Seahawks did right Sunday, including maybe the best one-yard touchdown run in Seattle annals (by RB Chris Carson), they still lost to a broken-down San Francisco outfit they had beaten 10 times in a row by a collective margin of 127 points, including a 27-point win two weeks earlier.

They let Charlie Brown kick the field goal.

They also let Richard Sherman have a last word (with Sherman, there is no such thing as “the” last word). He talked the refs out of a pass interference call against him. Officials picked up the flag, he picked up a win against his former team and the 49ers have won two games in a row with a third-string quarterback.

Sherman, who had three tackles but was avoided by the Seahawks offense, was not about to accept the notion that the 8-6 Seahawks, following the earlier rout, were looking past the Niners.

“I highly doubt Pete (Carroll) is overlooking a game I played in,” he told reporters post-game. “And Russell, as well. Those guys played hard. It wasn’t like they played a lackadaisical game. They battled. Our guys just executed down the stretch.”

The Seahawks executed themselves.

During the week, SF defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a former Seahawks assistant, put together a video that showed Seahawks celebrations in the Dec. 2 win, as well as the infamous 2014 turkey dinner tableau for the winners set up on the post-game field at Candlestick Park by NBC.

“Saleh made sure everyone remembered what happened in Seattle,” Sherman said. “He played what would appear to be a highlight tape for the other team. Every play they made celebrating in the end zone. Doing this (pretending to eat). It touched guys’ pride. The (Seahawks) went out and embarrassed you.”

The 49ers have on the roster only two players, TE Garrett Celek and LT Joe Staley, who were there for the last Niners victory, 19-17 on Dec. 8, 2013, at the Stick.

“I just don’t like them,” Staley said. “I don’t like Seattle. I don’t think there is a rallying cry we (needed) to get up for this game.”

To cause this magnum disruption to the Seattle’s upward narrative, the Seahawks had something historic to contribute. Never have the Seahawks surrendered as many penalty yards, 148,  as they did in sodden Santa Clara. The 14 penalties were also a record.

The Seahawks were denied by their own misdeeds. And there was no explaining it.

“All of the (statistics) matched how we (want to) play,” said Carroll, talking about rushing yardage, third-down conversions, second-half defense and turnover margin. “You could feel the crescendo of the game was setting up for us to win it.”

Then Brown, whose real-life avatar was Robbie Gould, kicked a 36-yard field goal in overtime to win, 26-23 (box).

“There’s no silver linings in this day,” said Carroll. Particularly regarding Sebastian Janikowski, who immediately after missing the day’s first extra-point kick, failed to make any effort to tackle the nearby Richie James, who ended up returning Janikowski’s kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

That seven-point swing around Janikowski’s waddling self was Seattle sports’ worst double-play clank since two Mariners in 1985 were tagged out at home on same play by a catcher with a broken leg.

As far as the game outcome, Carroll was right about no silver lining. But there was one matter that escaped Carroll’s scrutiny. The Seahawks lost no ground in pursuit of the playoffs, because a win against either Kansas City next Sunday or Arizona Dec. 29, both at home, will get them in the post-season.

Unless, of course, the NFL has a disqualifier based on multiple, frequent violations of football law.

But volume wasn’t the most egregious aspect. It was the timing.

“They happened at crucial times,” Carroll said. “That’s the way goes sometimes.

“We got so far behind the sticks with penalties. We hit the big play that put us in position to kick a field goal, but it came back.”

He referred to overtime’s decisive moment. On Seattle’s only possession, on a third-down-and-four play at Seattle’s 20-yard line, QB Russell Wilson heaved 32 yards to RB J.D. McKissic for a spectacular sideline completion at the Niners’ 48. A go-ahead field goal, at least, seemed plausible.

But RG Ethan Pocic was detected holding. The play was nullified. The drive stalled.  The 49ers took the punt and moved 49 yards in seven plays to set up Brown, er, Gould.

Regarding Pocic, some measure of slack might be given. The former second-round draft pick has become the third-string backup guard behind D.J. Fluker and Jordan Simmons. But Fluker didn’t play because of a sore hamstring, and Simmons left in the third quarter with a grade-one sprain of his right knee.

Pocic, he of little playing time, made his presence felt. The holding penalty was the second of his short appearance. Of Pocic’s play, Carroll said, “It didn’t work out very well.”

If Fluker and Simmons can’t play, Pocic will need to work out very well against the Chiefs.

But in partial defense of Pocic, LG J.R. Sweezy had a pair of holding fouls too. RT Germain Ifedi had one. Flags were everywhere. The defense was guilty of errors too. It was also absent a key man, SS Bradley McDougald. He left in the second quarter after aggravating a patellar tendon he has been nursing for weeks.

The kids in the secondary often had a hard time stopping QB Nick Mullens and crew. The unheralded Mullens has 689 yards passing against the Seahawks this season. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes may think he can get there by halftime.

Carroll couldn’t get over the penalties.

“Just crazy,’’ he said. “I don’t know how that could happen. But that really kind of spelled it.

“Huge lessons for our team.”

Not sure what can be done except to tell players not to do that again. Starting with Janikowski.



  • Alan Harrison

    Psst: it’s Germain, not Jermaine. The latter is a Jackson, albeit one less successful than the rest. The former is an offensive lineman, albeit one less successful than the rest. Anyway, that said, when can we please stop relying on 4th quarter theatrics – as successful as that has been – to win games? This was an ugly game for Seahawk fans, but at the same time, this was the first game a lot of these guys have had where they might become complacent. Youth comes up with this result every now and again. As long as we beat KC (doubtful), AZ (probable), or somehow qualify with other teams losing (possible), we have a chance to play the Bears in Chicago (eek) or the Washington team or Cowboys at their place (better, but still a road game). And the season will have been more successful than many of us thought it would be.

    • art thiel

      Fixed. Must have had my Jackson Five album on in the background.

      I don’t think complacency was an issue. All I can explain is the absences of McDougald and Simmons were big.

  • bugzapper

    Mmmmm….a disturbance in The Farce there is. Make that five one-score losses for a team that still doesn’t know how to close ’em out. Seahawks miraculously plodding along towards the 8-8 season I predicted. One and done in the playoffs.

    • Ron
    • art thiel

      Lots of teams aren’t closing deals. Nature of the NFL game.

      • bugzapper

        Yeah, on a onesie-twosie basis maybe. But how many have done it five times, let alone with teams they should have beaten?

        • John M

          After the game, Dave Wyman made it clear he thought the calls on Sweezy were both hokum. Put that with the injuries and it becomes obvious why this one slipped away . . .

          • art thiel

            Regarding pens, no one seems able to accept coincidence. We always have to have something to blame. Randomness is a hard thing.

          • John M

            Like Wyman’s demonstration of “levitation”?

        • art thiel

          You should be thrilled that the Seahawks are in every game, never getting blown out. Margins are small in the NFL. They are making the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. Lighten up.

    • Diamond Mask

      Being wrong is familiar to you then?

      • bugzapper

        Not so far.

  • Ron

    The question on everyone’s mind, would Blair Walsh have made that tackle?

    • art thiel

      Yes. The kid is a good athlete.

    • bevdog

      Embarrassing to watch a NFL team put a 40 plus year old man on the kickoff team who is fat and out of shape. Pathetic attempt at tackling the kick returner.
      We can do better than that.

      • rosetta_stoned

        Pssst. He was fat and out of shape at Florida State.

        • art thiel

          Even fat guys can at least get in the way.

      • Husky73

        I can take mistakes, mental and physical. I can take brain cramps. I cannot take a lack of (or no) effort. I would have released Janikowski today.

  • Kevin Lynch

    Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. Great one week, brutal the next. They need two very solid home games to get ready for the playoffs and they better hope they get Dallas and not Chicago.

    • art thiel

      Take a look around the league. Rams and Pats lost, DAL was shut out. Jekyll and Hyde is everywhere.

  • 1coolguy

    As ugly and difficult the game was, especially in the 4th qtr and OT, if Janikowski had made the EXTRA POINT, the Hawks win.
    How, after the stellar career he has had, he missed that extra point was unfortunately a harbinger of things to come.
    I do hope JS realized how important it will be to sign Fluker!

    • art thiel

      The problem with Fluker is his injury history, Been that way throughout his career. It’s hard for his frame to support all that mass without pulling or tearing.

    • Ron

      The harbinger of things to come was in pregame warmups when Janikowski slipped and fell on his back.

  • ll9956

    Earlier in the season it seemed like the Haws were improving in the penalty department, but today they regressed disastrously. This was the offense’s chief deficiency. In the end they got what they deserved. Especially in the first half the pass defense was poor and the kickoff return for a TD was inexcusable. Mathematically they can still make the playoffs, but a victory next Sunday against Kansas City (11-3) seems extremely unlikely. If they pull off the upset, I’ll be delighted to eat my words.

    • art thiel

      The D improved in the second half, but most of the 10 2nd-half penalties didn’t allow the offense to contribute.

  • Ɖ♂ற *º¤Ø♥ؤº*(°◡°♡)

    Good stuff Art. At the end of the day this is a team that fails to play well. Even when they win, they never seem to play well. I witnessed Kurt Warner not sure if you ever watched him when you were covering the Sonics but I see a lot of Warner in this guy Mullens. He showed us today, he is not your normal back-up. What a special player he is.

    • art thiel

      What you ascribed to SEA you could have said about every other team. The team that wins the SB each year is typically the healthiest, and the luckiest, in terms of how the schedule has them playing good teams when vulnerable.

      • Ɖ♂ற *º¤Ø♥ؤº*(°◡°♡)

        Yeah I mean, it’s really, putting up together good scripted drives, not any penalties, being stronger against the run, not being one team one week and then the next the following. I wasn’t referring to the roster which is impossible to keep intact. Bu anyway, thanks for answering.

  • Talkjoc

    Is there Seahawk linebacker that can cover a tight end? If you think that a third- string QB made the Hawks look bad what will an All-Pro do this weekend? Several of the holding calls on the O- line were iffy except Ifedi. Just plain awful. One final observation, looked like RW is back to his to hell with staying in the pocket routine. Sure didn’t look like a playoff team, although it looked that way league- wide.

    • art thiel

      The Rams, Pats and Cowboys sure didn’t look like playoff teams, either. Keep in mind that at this point in every season, most teams are hurt/flawed/tired and have bad games. The most useless phrase in football is “sure didn’t look like a playoff team,” because it isn’t the playoffs and teams change week to week.

  • Matt712

    Special Teams was abysmal on Sunday, and has been for several seasons running. How Brian Schneider managed hang on to his job during last off-season’s purge is a mystery to me.

    • art thiel

      When you’re paying key veterans top dollar, not much is left to fill out the final 15 spots on the roster devoted to ST.

  • tor5

    Are we certain Janikowski didn’t make an effort? There was a slight waddle. Perhaps he was trying to follow James’ cut. Maybe that was him being valiant. It’s hard to tell.

    • art thiel

      He was trying to find the angle that wouldn’t damage his pack of cigarettes.

      • tor5

        Sheesh, Art. That’s hilarious.

  • Diamond Mask

    This kind of had trap game written all over it. We should probably give SFO a little credit. They’ve had a terrible year starting with Garopolo going down. But last year they were en fuego at the end. At the start of this year before any of this happened many had the 49er’s ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West. With every game their QB plays he develops more confidence just like our defense has all year. He’s clearly comfortable hitting those big tight ends. They’re well coached and on their way up when luck finally stops turning her head. Fortunately the Seahawks also seem ready to fight in the NFC West this year and beyond. The division next year should be exciting.

    • art thiel

      Shanahan did a good job with strategy as well as motivation. I don’t think SEA took it lightly as much as SF, after 43-16, was desperate to beat the nemesis.

  • Husky73

    The most important game you play is the next one.

    • art thiel

      Let me guess, Pete Carroll. You weren’t the first to that, were you?

      • Husky73

        Ron Rivera

  • jafabian

    The Niners seemed to want this game more than the Hawks. A third string QB who started the season on the practice squad shouldn’t be this good. I don’t put the blame on Seabass as much as I do about the penalties. And geez who is covering Dante?????

  • Bruce McDermott

    Janikowksi should be locked in the film room, strapped down, eyes taped open, and forced to watch Carson’s TD run over and over again for four hours straight. That “effort” on the kick return was disgusting. Carroll didn’t go that far in his press conference, but he did say he’d liked to have seen Janikowski “try something.” No sh*t.

  • Chris Alexander

    The penalties were atrocious – and seemed pretty one-sided. But I think an equally large contributor to the loss was the shoddy field. We had a defender fall twice on one of their touchdowns and there was a play on offense where 3 of our linemen ended up on their butts with very little (if any) contact.