DK Metcalf (44) of the Seattle Seahawks sees lots of daylight on this 46 yard carry in the first quarter as the San Francisco 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Mosley (41) gives chase at Centuylink Field in Seattle on Sun Nov 1st (seattletimes.com photo)
By Joe Hawkes
If the San Francisco 49ers had any aspirations of winning back-to-back division titles, those dreams were dashed as the Seattle Seahawks showed why they are the best team in the NFC West with a 37-27 victory in Week 8 at an empty CenturyLink Field on Sunday afternoon.
With the win, the Seahawks improve to 6-1 on the year and remain atop of the NFC West standings and keep the 49ers in the basement with a 4-4 record.
Injuries continue to snake decimate the 49ers, who saw starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and all-world tight end George Kittle leave the game late in the fourth quarter with ankle and foot injuries. Both players’ status for Thursday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium is uncertain according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Both Garoppolo and Kittle are expected to undergo further treatment on Monday.
The injuries occurred within minutes of each other early in the fourth quarter and both players retreated to the locker room for further examination. Both were listed as questionable to return to the game, but neither saw the field again for the 49ers.
When you watched Garoppolo against Seattle, he just didn’t play well. Garoppolo had trouble getting the football out of his hands quickly amid constant pressure from the Seahawks. He struggled to find the NFL’s best tight end in Kittle, who had just one catch for 14 yards as Seattle built a 27-7 lead.
For the game, Kittle finished with just two catches for 39 yards.
Garoppolo completed 11 of 16 passes for just 84 yards with no touchdowns and one interception before exiting the game in the second half with the same aggravated ankle injury that kept him out for two games. He was replaced by backup Nick Mullens.
Mullens seemed comfortable coming into the game, leading the 49ers on three touchdown drives after San Francisco was trailing 30-7. On his first drive, Mullens engineered an 11-play, 79-yard drive that was capped off by Jerick McKinnon’s 1-yard touchdown run to cut Seattle’s lead to 30-14.
On the 49ers’ next possession, Mullens finished off a six-play, 80-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown toss to backup tight end Ross Dwelley to bring the score to 30-20. The 49ers decided to go for two to make it a one-score game, but couldn’t convert the two-point conversion.
Seattle put the game away after rookie running back DeeJay Dallas’ 1-yard touchdown run put the Seahawks up 37-20 with 3:33 left in the game.
San Francisco added a three-yard score from Mullens to rookie wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk to make the score 37-27 with 1:52 left in the game. Aiyuk finished tied with fellow wide receiver Kendrick Bourne with eight catches for 91 yards. Bourne registered 81 yards in the contest.
Too little, too late for the 49ers.
The real story of the game was the performances of quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver DK Metcalf.
Following an uncharacteristic game in which he threw three interceptions in a 37-34 loss in overtime to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 on the road, Wilson bounced back in major way completing 27 of 37 passes for 261 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilson, who is a heavy favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award this year, leads the NFL with 26 touchdown passes through eight weeks.
The 49ers had no answer for Metcalf the entire game.
Metcalf gave Seattle a 6-0 lead in the first quarter on a 46-yard touchdown catch-and-run where he went nearly untouched by San Francisco’s fifth ranked defense.
Following rookie running back JaMychal Hasty’s first-career rushing touchdown to put the 49ers up 7-6, Metcalf added his second score of the day from two-yards out to extend Seattle’s lead to 13-7.
Metcalf bounced back in Week 8 after having just two catches for 23 yards against the Cardinals, Metcalf had himself a career-day against the 49ers. The second-year wide receiver set career-highs in catches (12) and yards (161) to go along with two scores.
Defensively, Seattle’s much maligned defense had its best performance of the year in the victory over the 49ers.
The Seahawks limited the 49ers’ offense to 116 yards and had two takeaways in the first half, including an interception of Garopolo by nickelback D.J. Reed Jr. to set up Seattle’s first score. Reed Jr., who was waved by the 49ers in August, was making his Seattle debut after being activated off the non-football injury list on Saturday.
San Francisco did finish with 351 yards of total offense, but most of that came in the fourth quarter with Seattle in control of the game.
Bobby Wagner, Seattle’s All-Pro middle linebacker, continued to be the gold standard at the position with a vintage performance. Wagner was all over the field, finishing with 11 tackles and two of Seattle’s three sacks on the day.
Seattle and San Francisco will meet again in Week 17 at Levi’s Stadium to close out the 2020 season.