BY Art Thiel 06:00AM 01/20/2020

Thiel: 3 thoughts on 49ers, Chiefs and Seahawks

The 49ers and Chiefs make for a great Super Bowl matchup, but from a Seattle what-if perspective, it’s . . . well, as Marshawn Lynch would put it, it’s hard on y’alls mentals.

In the regular-season finale at the Clink, 49ers RB Raheem Mostert gained 57 yards in 10 carries against the Seahawks, a bit less than the 220 he had Sunday against the Packers. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

Let’s get this out of the way first: Richard Sherman is going to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are not.

Let’s get this out of the way second: Frank Clark is going to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are not.

Let’s get this out of the way third: The Seahawks season was ended a week ago by a Packers team that not only isn’t going to go to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, it may have to present identification documents to be admitted to the 2020 NFL season.

From the Seattle perspective, conference-title weekend brought a bad taste for Seahawks fans. As if somebody slipped brake fluid into a post-season cognac.

Sherman’s San Francisco 49ers are the NFC champs, Clark’s Kansas City Chiefs are the AFC champs. No one who watched either conference title game has a complaint about the legitimacy of either Super Bowl entrant. No inexplicable officiating calls turned the outcomes. No lucky plays had big influence.

Most important, no one is accusing the winners of stealing signals.

For the second week in a row, the Chiefs spotted a playoff opponent a half-lap lead in a one-lap race and ran them down by the three-quarter mark.

In the 35-24 win (box) over the Tennessee Titans, Patrick Mahomes, down 17-7, took back the title of best NFL QB from Lamar Jackson. In the six quarters since the Chiefs trailed the Houston Texans 24-0, Mahomes was 42 of 62 for 572 yards with eight touchdowns and no turnovers. Sunday he ran eight times for 53 yards, including 27 yards on perhaps the best TD run by a QB in NFL playoff history.

For the second time this season, the Niners dope-slapped the Packers, following a 37-8 regular-season blasting with a 37-20 win Sunday (box) that was over before the late-arriving San Francisco fans had a chance to leave early.  The Niners are 15-3 in a year after they were 4-12, becoming the third team to make it to the Super Bowl a year after winning four or fewer games, joining Cincinnati (1988) and the Rams (1999).

The Packers became the worst 14-4 team in NFL history because, a week after holding the Seahawks to 110 rushing yards in 24 carries (64 by QB Russell Wilson), they gave up an unbelievable 285 yards on 45 carries to the Niners.

RB Raheem Mostert, who played for the Eagles, Dolphins, Ravens, Browns, Jets and Bears and never had a single NFL carry until he joined the Niners, freight-trained the Packers for a franchise-record 220 yards, and became the first in NFL playoff history to rush for 200+ yards and four TDs.

From the Seattle perspective, three thoughts:

  1. Putting aside his team’s absence from the NFC Championship, Pete Carroll could not be more thrilled about an opponent’s success, because QB Jimmy Garappolo’s six completions in eight attempts for 77 yards validates him more than a mother’s hug. Carroll has come under much criticism for impeding Wilson, in the way coach Dean Smith impeded Michael Jordan at North Carolina. Seeing another run-first team buck the NFL’s trend toward 40-pass-minimum games soothes Carroll like sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.
  2. From an entertainment perspective, it is worth having Sherman at another Super Bowl so he can be trolled into mocking the Seahawks’ decision to kick him to the curb. His insufferability, once a franchise asset, will be weaponized against the Seahawks. That will ratchet up the rivalry, gone stale with the Niners’ futility, back to submarine-klaxon intensity.
  3. Had the Seahawks had any ONE among Will Dissly, Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny or Duane Brown healthy in December, this column would be filled with cool info on the Chiefs’ weaknesses and Miami Beach bars.

Think about that last one as you prepare for a great Super Bowl matchup, while staying true to Marshawn Lynch’s advice to take care of y’alls mentals.



  • StephenBody

    Can’t argue with any of that. Big question: what – besides random fate – is at the root of the Seahawks annual Parade of Broken Toys? Conditioning? The rest of the NFL using steroids and they’re not? Voodoo curse from Sherman and Thomas? What?

    I’d love to be watching them in the Superb Owl but at least now I can just skip the whole thing and focus on hockey.

    • ReebHerb

      Conditioning? No, no, no. Please no Dr. Lorena.

      • art thiel

        Hey, everyone was thrilled to give Marshawn Lynch a second chance. Why not Dr. M?

    • art thiel

      The Seahawks injury rate is little different than any other NFL team. The Carson/Penny/Prosise thing was pure coincidence. No team can lose its top three at the same position and survive long.

      Hollister was actually fifth-string, and was exposed as the season went along.

  • Kevin Lynch

    As much as I hate to say it, a Lynch may have been the real separator between the Hawks and Niners this year. John Lynch, NFL Executive of the Year, and S.F. GM. In the first game with the Hawks they had yet to get Mostart going, had just acquired Emmanuelle Sanders, had Kittle out with an injury, not sure they had Coleman at that point, etc. This group of players made them into a superior team by year’s end. Seattle did a great job closing in the second game but look – S.F. had superior lines as well and is a better representative for the NFC in the Super Bowl. Mahomes would riddle the Hawks secondary.

    • art thiel

      Good point about Lynch. He and everyone around the Niners had to eat dirt the first two years, but patience paid off. 4-12 to 15-3 is stupendous.

  • coug73

    Bulldozer OL play by the 9er’s was the key to their running game. Mostest’s quickness and speed along with poor Packer’s secondary play opened the running game. Mostest sincere recognization of his OL and receivers down field blocking gave credit where credit was due. .

    Richard Sherman and Frank Clarke can chatter all they want. They are free of the Seahawks. These two are playing in the Super Bowl. A well, deserved reward.

    Go 9er’s.

    • art thiel

      49ers investments in both lines paid off well. Running 42 times and passing 8 is amazing in a title game. But it took six bad seasons and four coaches to accumulate the draft capital.

  • Mark Thurston

    The “What Ifs”. . are the theme of this season. . and well I suppose almost every season. So optimism abounds as always. The Seahawks are a world class NFL organization. Looking forward to seeing how they will build on this year’s successful season. Hopefully the injury pendulum swings back in this teams favor next year. As for this year’s Superbowl I really can’t handle a 49er win. Andy Reid is due. Go Chiefs. .And Art Thanks again for another great season of covering the Seahawks. You make this a whole lot of fun.

    • art thiel

      Thanks, Mark.

      Reid is sentimental choice for many. And around here, there’s no sentiment for the 49ers, which, when they win, will make next season highly entertaining.

  • jafabian

    Sherman, Clark and Jimmy Graham went deeper in the playoffs than the Hawks. Earl Thomas almost joined them. Pete and John deserve better. This is what it’s like to be the Mariners. Seeing former players succeed elsewhere.

    The current Seahawk team has only youth as it’s weakness. An offseason of reflection and dedication could work wonders for them. I like how Shaquem Griffin has already been talking about getting ready for next season. A few solid draft picks and a free agent pick up or two could be what the Hawks need to get to the next level. If they were relatively healthy in the playoffs they would have completed their unfinished business.

    • art thiel

      A healthier team would have beaten GB, and made the NFC game close, with Wilson being the tie-breaker.

      I don’t think the Seahawks shortcoming is youth so much as weak drafts on defense. Collier, Flowers, Shaquem, Thompson, Hill, McDowell. I’m a little skeptical on Barton. I don’t see big upsides among them.

      • jafabian

        I’m willing to give Collier a pass since he started the season hurt. I thought Flowers had a good season but struggled in the end. IMO the lack of a credible pass rush makes the secondary’s job that much harder. He still had over 60 tackles and 3 INTs. A player who exceeds expectations his rookie year sometimes takes a step back in his second due to the league adjusting to him. That happened to Shaquill. I don’t believe Shaquem is used to his strengths and at times the coaches have acknowledged this. Whether that would make a difference who knows? I think Hill and Barton have huge upsides to them. Is McDowell still on the team? When I looked at the roster I didn’t see his name. Makes me smile seeing Marshawn still on it.

        • art thiel

          McDowell was long ago gone; my reference was for opportunity squandered among drafted defenders.

          Flowers isn’t hopeless, but it seems his ceiling is below NFL average. Shaquem is too small to be anything but a speed rusher on third down.

  • Matt Kite

    It does seem like the Seahawks would have had a good shot at beating the Packers if they’d had a healthy offensive line and the 1-2 punch of Carson/Penny. Add Will Dissly to the mix and they might have gone all the way. This sure makes me appreciate how fortunate they were in previous seasons to make it to the postseason largely healthy. Then again, they also had better depth a few years ago…

    • art thiel

      Ever since Wilson signed his deal, depth would always be an issue. I give Carroll credit for getting as far as he did having to work around the salaries of Wilson/Wagner.

  • woofer

    Mind-numbing ineptitude from the Packers. The game was over midway through Q2. The score, which was not close, did not fully communicate the yawning gap between the teams. Even the usually reliable guilty pleasure of enjoying Aaron Rodgers being humbled became dull and jaded. One of the worst conference finals performances ever.

    Carroll and the Hawks made the best of what they had available and came within inches of getting it done. Credit the effort. Justice will be served if Reid and KC finally get the elusive big win. If it is close at the end, Mahomes should prevail.

    • art thiel

      As I wrote earlier, Rodgers isn’t the same guy he was, which is perfectly understandable.

      Neither the Seahawks nor GB could have handled all those No. 1 draft picks on the SF D. Nor will KC.

      • Chris Alexander

        KC should be fine (IMO). The game will end up being a shootout and the faster team will win.

  • Husky73

    Art– Great Lesley Gore pull….song written by a young Marvin Hamlisch and produced by Seattleite Quincy Jones.

    • art thiel

      Lesley Gore and Marhawn Lynch in the same column. What a time to be alive.

  • Effzee

    My main observation from the weekend was that of course Green Bay got trounced. How did they beat us? Mostly because Aaron Rodgers exploited Trey Flowers. Also, the Seahawks had no running game, and even so, if Turner catches that pass then i still say its better than 50-50 that they go down and score. (Except they would have probably screwed it up and scored on the next play to Metcalf, leaving too much time for Rodgers, and he would have had like, two long completions to set up the field goal as time expired.) Anyways, the Niners have Richard Sherman, so…. I mean, Richard Sherman usually just beats Aaron Rodgers, right? If SF can shut down Mahomes and RS gets a second ring, then it will be a shame that our coaches and management couldn’t find a way to work it out with that guy.

    To me, the problem seems to be the philosophy throughout the building that if they can just be within striking distance, then something magical will happen. The mantra about only being able to win the game in the 4th quarter has permeated the building, and it is now the model. Russ and Pete both talked about it at length post-game and in the weeks since they lost to the Packers; how they have done it so many times that they just expect that its going to happen again. The problem is that its been quite some time since that actually worked out at the end of the season, and its not working out more and more often during the regular season too, especially at home. To all of the guys except Wagner, KJ and Russ, the magic is just a legend that they are supposed to also buy into, but they haven’t actually seen it work out that often in reality. So, expecting it to not work out is the new normal.

    My point is that they somehow need to get off of the model of expecting that magic time will happen as long as they keep it close. They need to somehow figure out a way to run a game plan as drawn up, to run plays as designed, to have a consistent offensive output. They need to stop putting the defense that John Schneider has not sufficiently assembled on the field over and over again to get worn down by the time that Russell’s Magic Time comes at the end. Even though Carson had 1,200 yards by the time of his injury, the slow starts and three-and-outs persisted. They’re 2-3 in five divisional playoff games with Russ at QB, and they’ve scored 13 total first half point in those five games. This spans changes to RBs, WR’s, TEs, OCs, O-Line coaches, QB coaches, and offensive philosophies. This thing has been customized to fit Russ’ needs, from soup to nuts, as they say. And yet, game day always looks the same.

  • DJ

    Thanks Art!
    The Hawks have a huge upside after this surprisingly successful season. Yeah, so close yet far from perfect. Imagine if all of those “fallen” had been around and healthy at the end of the season. Next years squad, especially the young guys, will benefit from the experience this season brought. Getting healthy, maybe boosting a few weak areas (starting up front with the lines, only as necessary) will give us the next NFC Champ.

    BTW Gotta keep Marshawn around. It’s a good thing for the team, it’s fun, and I would think he’d like keeping his toes in the game in a minor but mentoring role, with opportunities to make a difference on the field.