Flashback to 2013: The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks stand atop the NFC West in the midst of a fierce rivalry. Fast forward six years and the rivalry has re-ignited, with two of the NFC’s best teams facing off under the lights on Monday Night Football.
The hype surrounding this game was through the roof, and it did not disappoint. Going down to the wire, the 49ers were tested through the air, on the ground, and on defense.
The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is back, and even better. Except that an inconsistent night from Jimmy Garoppolo (24-for-46, 248 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 2 fumbles) and the 49ers offense ended up being their downfall, as a Jason Myers 42-yard field goal in overtime sealed the 27-24 win for Seattle as time expired.
Monday night’s matchup against the Seahawks (7-2) featured key 49ers (8-0) players returning from injuries. Left tackle Joe Staley, right tackle Mike McGlinchey, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk were active for the first time in weeks, while tight end George Kittle and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon were inactive.
49ers defense faces their toughest test yet: Russell Wilson and crew
After the 49ers marched down the field on the opening drive to score a field goal, Wilson came face-to-face with the 49ers D-Line. On a third-and-short on the Seahawks first drive, 49ers defensive tackle D.J. Jones blew past the Seattle offensive line for the first sack on Wilson. Seattle’s offensive line is not great, and Jones made them look bad.
Ending the Seahawk’s first drive of the second quarter was another sack of Wilson that seemed too easy for the 49ers. Robert Saleh’s defense blitzed Wilson, resulting in another immediate sack up the middle from Fred Warner. The 49ers were bullying the Seahawks offensive line early on.
Right before halftime, the Seahawks marched down the field with a chance to take the lead. A pass from Wilson to D.K. Metcalf resulted in a bizarre strip-fumble near the goal line by 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt. Nearly losing their lead, the 49ers miraculously forced a turnover after a head-scratching turn of events.
Tartt talked about the clutch turnover postgame and the defense’s mindset on plays like that:
“I was jus trying to make a play. Every play is the defense’s mindset to get the ball. For us, they are not in the end-zone until they are in the end-zone. For me, i was just trying to strip the ball, and i just happened to take it away from him.”
With just over 4:30 left in the third quarter, the Seahawks marched down the field after a Garoppolo interception. The 49ers defensive line had sacked Wilson three times up to this point but had allowed him way too much time on a handful of plays. On the 49ers 3-yard line, Wilson would find his tight end Jacob Hollister for a go-ahead touchdown. The Seahawks jumped out to a 14-10 lead with 4:30 left in the quarter.
Just when things could not get worse for the 49ers, the defense came through in the clutch once again. With just over twelve minutes left in the game, Wilson dropped back to pass and fumbled, which resulted in a scoop-and-score by DeForest Buckner. K’Waun Williams forced the fumble, and all of the sudden the 49ers were down 21-18 after a successful two-point conversion.
Postgame, DeForest Buckner broke down that crazy scoop-and-score that ended up shifting the momentum back to the 49ers:
“Yeah, let’s see. I mean, it was a critical situation. We needed to get a big stop or get the ball back for the offense and make a short field. I mean, we were all just rushing and -Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson] Russell was just wrapped up. Pretty sure the guys got to him and I saw one of the lineman take the ball from him and was just wondering ‘what the hell is this dude doing?’ you know what i mean? He tried to run with it, which was crazy, so i tried to wrap him up and get the ball out. Didn’t know that [LB] Fred [Warner] punched it out, i thought I ripped it out. That hurt. But then i saw the opportunity to scoop it up and make a big play in the game and get some energy back for the team. I saw it and it was, what, about a 20-yard return. Thank the lord, because i was tired. Yeah, it was a great play and tried to bring it back. Tried to help the team and we just came up short.”
With just under four minutes left, the Seahawks marched into 49ers territory, where Josh Gordon made his first appearance of the night, catching his first pass as a member of the Seahawks. The two-minute warning had hit, and the Seahawks were threatening to score, and take the lead. A 4th-and-2 set up a Seahawks field goal attempt for the lead, which was good. The Seahawks led 24-21 with 1:45 left.
With a wild fourth-quarter finish culminating in a 47-yard Chase McLaughlin field goal to tie things at 24-24, Seattle got the first crack in overtime. The 49ers defense had suffered many injuries throughout the game, but they had to continue to hold if they wanted to walk away with the win.
A 3rd-and-3 for the Seahawks resulted in a first down catch by Gordon, moving the sticks towards midfield. A Buckner sack of Wilson would set up a 3rd-and-17 for the Seahawks. Wilson being Wilson would somehow escape pressure, completing a pass downfield for 28 yards and a first down. On the 32-yard line, the Seahawks were in field goal range, while looking for a touchdown.
A pass to Hollister gave Seattle the ball at the 13-yard line. On the very next play, the rookie Dre Greenlaw intercepted Wilson, taking it back into 49ers territory. With the Seahawks threatening to score, the 49ers had just about pulled off a miracle.
After McLaughlin missed the game-winning field goal in overtime, Wilson and the Seahawks got the ball back with just over three minutes left. A 3rd-and-2 for Seattle resulted in an incomplete pass, and somehow, someway, the 49ers were getting the ball back with 1:57 left.
After a quick three-and-out by the 49ers, Seattle, with 1:16 left and facing a 3rd-and-4, got a big scramble from Wilson into 49ers territory. With four seconds left, Seattle decided on a field goal from the 24-yard line.
The 49ers defense played very well tonight, despite allowing some critical big-plays that resulted in the Seahawks winning the game. Richard Sherman had this to say about how the defense played Monday night:
“We played hard, we played hard, that’s for sure. We’ve got to give ourselves a chance, we didn’t play up to our standard, there were plays where we had sudden change and we were backed up. We have to find a way to get them stopped, and I think everybody in that room will tell you ‘I gotta make a play.’”
This was the game, it all came down to this kick. The 42-yard field goal was … stopped due to a 49ers timeout at the last second. Seahawks kicker Jason Myers got one more chance and made it. The 49ers had lost their first game of the season.
Kyle Shanahan had mixed feelings after Monday night’s loss. He was proud of how hard his team battled, but upset with the outcome:
“You’re always disappointed when you don’t win, especially when we felt we had a number of chances. I was very proud of our guys. I thought we competed very hard. Guys left it all out there. I know guys are hurting right now. I thought all three phases played hard. I thought our defense was unbelivable. I thought the offense played as hard as they could but made way too many mistakes to be able to pull out a win in that game.”
Both teams struggled with what they do best: running the ball
Out of the gate, the 49ers relied heavily on the passing game. In the first quarter, both Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman each had four carries. Coleman broke off a 22-yard run on the 49ers second drive, while Breida was targeted more in the passing game.
The Seahawks, with running back Chris Carson, had even less success than the 49ers through the first half. The 49ers have struggled as of late defending the run, but so far they had smothered Carson and the Seattle running game.
Receiving the opening kickoff to begin the third quarter, the Seahawks marched to mid-field before backup running back Rashaad Penny fumbled into the arms of DeForest Buckner. K’Waun Williams forced the fumble on Penny.
After forcing their third turnover of the game, the Seahawks looked to add on to their 14-10 lead. Knocking on the door on the 49ers one-yard line, the Seahawks scored on a touchdown by Carson. All of a sudden the Seahawks led 21-10.
Garoppolo’s inconsistent night under center
The 49ers received the opening kickoff Monday night, sending Jimmy Garoppolo and the offense onto the field first. The 49ers’ first drive started off rocky when a Seahawks interception was negated by a Seattle holding penalty. Garoppolo completed a couple of his signature third-down passes, but the drive stalled in the red zone, resulting in a 49ers field goal.
Garoppolo was much sharper on the 49ers second drive, completing big passes to Deebo Samuel and Emmanuel Sanders, as the 49ers marched down the field with ease. With just over two minutes left in the first quarter, Garoppolo found Kendrick Bourne for a 49ers touchdown, extending their lead to 10-0.
Though Garoppolo did not throw an interception in the first half, he did commit a very costly turnover. With just over three minutes left in the first half, Garoppolo dropped back to pass, which led to a sack, fumble, and score by Seahawks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. With 2:50 left in the first half, the 49ers got the ball back now leading 10-7.
Losing Sanders to a rib injury in the first quarter, combined with the loss of George Kittle made for a choppy 49ers passing game. Garoppolo could not find any receivers open, and when he did, it was mostly Samuel.
Nearly throwing an interception in the first quarter, Garoppolo would not get so lucky in the third. A pass intended for Bourne was tipped off the hands of the receiver, into the hands of Shaquill Griffin. That interception proved to be costly, resulting in a Wilson touchdown pass.
After Seattle scored, the 49ers got the ball back and did not fare any better. On a 2nd-and-18 from the 32-yard line, Garoppolo was sacked once more, resulting in yet another fumble.
The game came down to one last 49ers drive with 1:45 left in the game. Down 24-21, Garoppolo was tasked with leading his team down the field to avoid their first loss of the season. Two incomplete passes to begin the drive was followed by a first-down pass to Dwelley. A big gain to Coleman moved the 49ers into Seattle territory, which was followed by a Coleman run. Another pass completed to Coleman put the 49ers on the Seattle 37-yard line with 18 seconds left.
A pass over the middle to Samuel set up a 47-yard field goal by the rookie Chase McLaughlin. Replacing Robbie Gould, the rookie was on-point Monday night, and that included the game-tying field goal. Heading into overtime, this game was tied 24-24.
In overtime, with a chance to win it, the 49ers found themselves in Seattle territory. A pass to Raheem Mostert, followed by a Mostert run gave the 49ers the ball on the 30-yard line. A 3rd-and-2 resulted in a Mostert run, almost moving the chains. A fourth-down set up another huge moment for the 49ers rookie kicker. McLaughlin was about to attempt his fourth field goal of the game, a game-winner in overtime. The rookie missed wide-left, giving the Seahawks the ball back with 3:06 left.
Seattle’s resulting drive stalled, and miraculously, the 49ers got another chance at it. An incomplete pass to Dwelley on first down was followed by an incomplete pass to Dante Pettis on second down. An incomplete pass to Samuel deep downfield would result in a 49ers three-and-out. A wasted opportunity.
49ers offense without its two best pass-catchers
Losing Kittle was hardly a nightmare scenario for the 49ers, but it was far from ideal. The Pro Bowl tight end was ruled out with both ankle and knee injuries before Monday nights game. In the first quarter, 49ers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left the game with a rib injury.
Now without both Kittle and Sanders, the 49ers were forced to rely on some of their younger, inconsistent weapons. Deebo Samuel had a great first half, totaling 70 yards on four catches, but the offense still was not clicking as it should.
Samuel would continue to be Garoppolo’s go-to receiver into the fourth quarter. Down 21-18, with over seven minutes left in the game, Garoppolo would complete his first pass to a tight end, Ross Dwelley. Kittle’s absence could be felt from the very beginning.
After Monday nights heartbreaking loss, Kyle Shanahan had this to say about the losses of both George Kittle and Emmanuel Sanders:
“They’re our two best playmakers, so it definitely takes a toll. We knew that coming in with George. We kind of realized that was going to happen today. Emmanuel was out there battling. Had that happened with his ribs. He tried to go a few more series longer, but he had to go out. Other guys came in, some guys stepped it up at times. We just didn’t have the consistency out there.”
Following the loss, San Francisco will continue their homestand with another matchup against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1), who they played just two weeks ago. Losing many players to injury Monday night, the 49ers hope to hear some good news regarding the extensive list of injuries.
- The 49ers had an extensive list of injured players after Monday night’s game. The team will find out more in the coming days.
- Richard Sherman believes that rivalries “aren’t made in the regular season.” His former quarterback Russell Wilson may just agree. Could this be a potential NFC Championship matchup come January?
- Rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made his first career start Monday night filling in for the injured Kwon Alexander. Stepping up big time, Greenlaw was dominant all night, and that led to a crucial interception of Wilson in the end zone. His linebacking partner Fred Warner had this to say about Greenlaw’s performance Monday night:
“Dre did outstanding. I thought he had a great game. He was out there communicating, lining up with urgency, making plays. That play where he intercepted the ball was just insane. I’m thinking i was going to have a chance at it because [Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson] Russell lobbed it up. Just the execution of that play and what he were running, i honestly couldn’t believe it was so, you know, kind of surreal. He’s a great player, very instinctive and it showed tonight for sure.”