49ers: Russell Wilson puts Defense on Skates; Time for Jimmy Garoppolo?

Here’s a narrative that forty-niner fans are tired of hearing: Russell Wilson puts the 49ers’ defense on skates; Seahawks win 9th straight over the 49ers final score 24 to 13; C.J. Beathard goes down in pain; did the fans really cheer? Jimmy Garoppolo Era begins? 


Grade break down as follows:

Offense:  With the Seahawks depleted with at least four starters out of the lineup due to severe injuries on defense; defensive end Cliff AvrilSafety Kam Chancellor, rookie cornerback Shaquil Griffin and Richard Sherman out for the year. The 49ers coming off a bye week couldn’t take advantage nor could they exploit it in any facet of the game. The 49ers’ offense managed just 280 yards of total offense while going 5 for 16 on third down on 67 plays at 4.2 yards per play and 1 for 1 in the red zone.

Carlos Hyde was held in check this time around with 47 yards on 16 carries at 2.9 yards per rush. C.J. Beathard’s stat line consisted of 22 of 38 passes for 201 yards at 5.3 per pass attempt and 1 interception while posting a final QBR of 10.8 and a 61.4 RTG. Beathard’s pass protection was suspect at best (under constant pressure), he was hit 13 times and sacked 3 times. Beathard could have been better with accuracy and ball placement but his supporting cast didn’t help him much with Hyde leading the way with several drops in the game. Marquise Goodwin was the second leading receiver behind Hyde’s 7 catches, with 4 for catches on 6 targets for 78 yards at 19.5 per catch. Trent Taylor had the ball muscled and taken away for a registered interception credited to Beathard by Bobby “Big Play” Wagner who continues to be a thorn in the 49ers’ side. 

Important to note: Kyle Juszczyk, the 49ers’ prize $ 21 million free agent fullback accounted for 2 catches for 8 yards. Niners Live recently asked the question about “Juice”; Underutilized? Underperforming? Or Overrated?

This team scored 13 points and 7 came in garbage time from Jimmy Garoppolo’s lone touchdown pass to WR Louis Murphy. The 49ers’ offense was held under 300 yards of total offense and Matt Breida only had two touches on offense both 12-yard gains via run and pass. Grade D+

Defense: Gave the 49ers’ offense a chance to win this game by containing the run to a tune of 90 yards at 3.0 yards per rush. The Seahawks’ offense totaled 318 yards while going 5 for 13 on third down on 64 plays at 5.0 yards per play and 3 for 4 in the red zone. Russell Wilson’s stat line consisted of 20 of 34 passes for 228 yards at 6.7 per pass attempt, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception while posting a final QBR of 65.1 and an 86.4 RTG. Wilson’s first and only interception of the game came from safety Eric Reid’s tight man coverage on Jimmy Graham. Starting running back Eddie Lacy was contained and bottled up to only net 46 yards on 17 carries at 2.7 yards per rush.

Reid played a good game overall outside of his personal foul penalty; he ended the game with a team-leading 7 solo tackles total and a pass break-up. Reuben Foster had 6 solo tackles total, 1 tackle for a loss and 2 QB hits while getting shook out of his shoes by Wilson. Brock Coyle had 6 tackles, 3 coming solo and .5 tackle for loss. Ronald Blair III (who played well) had 5 tackles, 4 coming solo and 1 tackle for loss. Antone Exum Jr. had mixed reviews in coverage and tackling; he ended with 3 tackles, 2 being solo. Tank Carradine had 2 solo tackles total in his return to the lineup. Cassius Marsh gave some minimal pressure and added 2 solo tackles. Sheldon Day had 2 solo tackles total and a great pressure up the middle on Wilson. Day played more defensive snaps for the #49ers Sunday (30) than he did in any game this year for the #Jaguars @PFF gave him a solid 75.3 grade vs. Seattle (via Matt Barrows).

Dontae Johnson had 4 solo tackles total with one pass break up. DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas (both non-factors) totaled 3 solo tackles and 3 QB hits combined (via ESPN.com). 

Ahkello Witherspoon had 1 solo tackle and 1 pass break up with a bag of mixed reviews. On one hand, he defended a pass in the end zone against the smaller Tyler Lockett who stands at 5′ 10″, 182 lbs. to prevent a touchdown, the advantage went to the 6′ 3 Witherspoon. Seattle saw this mistake and made adjustments in the second half and flex TE Graham out wide on a slant and now the advantage went to 6′ 7″, 265 lb. Graham who seemed to get a clean break off the line of scrimmage against Witherspoon scored a touchdown on the play. 

The defense only managed 6 QB hits and zero sacks on Wilson as he continued to put all defenders that tried to contain him on ice skates slipping and falling at will. It should be noted that the defense was on the field for 29:31 which has been the theme all year. Grade: C

Special teams: Punter Bradley Pinion got off to a rocky start when his first kick-off attempt fell off the tee and his do-over went out of bounds. Pinion had 9 punts for 342 yards at 38.0 per punt average and had 4 inside the 20-yard line. Field Goal kicker Robbie Gould, however, was “Money” made both of his attempts in wet, windy and at times raining conditions at Levi’s Stadium. Gould is 21 for 23 with a field goal conversion of 91.3 percent on the season. Grade: B

I’ll leave you with this:  The 49ers were coming out of a bye week and had two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks at home, and offensively, they left much to be desired in the creativity and points to be scored department. While C.J. Beathard was laying injured on the ground, fellow teammates Reuben Foster and Eric Reid took exception and called out fans for what they considered to be cheering from fans seeing Beathard hurt and the anticipation for Jimmy G who entered the game with a minute or so left.

Jimmy Garoppolo had 3 plays; a run for 4 yards and two passes, one coming on a scramble and throw to Murphy as aforementioned. Beathard has taken 17 sacks and absorbed 52 hits in his first five NFL starts (via Eric Branch). Is Jimmy G ready? We shall see….

The one wrinkle and head-scratcher in the game, and it was a glaring one, came on offense when head coach Kyle Shanahan decided to deploy the “pistol/zone/read option” as a formation he probably used at least 80-85% in the game for C. J Beathard to catch the Seahawks off guard per his post-game press conference (via the teams website).

Add in 7 penalties for 75 yards and this Overall Grade is a C-. If it wasn’t for the play of the defense, specifically during the first half, this grade would be a D.

On a side recap note:

During the offseason, Kyle Shanahan said Colin Kaepernick did not fit his system, per se, based on his skillet/pistol/read option tailoring to a mobile quarterback, and that he would basically have to change his offense to fit Kaepernick (via the Mercury News).

“Colin’s had a great career, and he’s done some really good things,” Shanahan said. “I think Colin has a certain skill-set that you can put a specific offense to it that he can be very successful in. When we first looked at it, you’ve got to look at each quarterback and what type of offense you want to put in. That wasn’t necessarily the direction I wanted to go . . .The type of offense I want to run was somewhat different and that’s why we went that type of direction.”

49er updates, interviews and news:

Beathard recaps his play, Quote Roundup by players highlights, and here’s what head coach Kyle Shanahan had to say about Sunday’s performance (via the team’s website).

Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.

All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus49ers.comESPN.comNFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author , Content Creator, EditorSequoia Sims