Reflections on San Francisco 49ers Week 15 Win Over Seattle Seahawks

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 16: San Francisco 49ers Running Back Jeff Wilson (41) picks up first down yardage in overtime during the NFL game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers on December 16, 2018 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks on a game-winning field goal by Robbie Gould in overtime 26-23. It puts the 49ers at 4-10 on the season and gives them their first win against the Seahawks since December 8, 2013. It’s the first time the Seahawks have ever lost at Levi’s Stadium, and the only players remaining on the 49ers roster since that last win against the Seahawks are Joe Staley and Garrett Celek. The Seahawks would have clinched a playoff berth with a win today, but they’ll instead have to wait at least another week to punch their ticket to the postseason.

Reflections on San Francisco 49ers Week 15 Win

Numerous Mistakes Made by Both Teams

The game looked like a showdown between two teams that couldn’t really seem to get out of their own way when they needed to make a play. The Seahawks are going to look back on the first quarter in which they made crucial mistakes that ended up having a huge impact on the outcome. After the Doug Baldwin five-yard touchdown catch on their opening drive, Sebastian Janikowski missed the extra point attempt.

Immediately following that missed extra point, the Seahawks cover team gave up a 97-yard touchdown return to Richie James. Credit James for breaking off a huge run to put the 49ers out ahead early, and it was really the best play of that opening quarter for them.

After being pinned on their own one-yard line, the 49ers offense looked like it was rolling towards a score, but ended up shooting themselves in the foot before putting points on the board. Bradley McDougald forced a fumble on a Jeff Wilson run and also recovered it, right as the 49ers had moved into field goal range. That turnover prevented them from most likely putting up at least an extra three points on the scoreboard, and quite possibly as much as seven points. The 49ers wouldn’t have needed an overtime period to secure this win had Wilson been able to hang onto the ball at that area of the field.

The 49ers bounced back nicely on their next offensive possession, though, going 98 yards on 10 plays and capping off the drive with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Celek. The Seahawks offense then responded with their own great offensive possession, going 78 yards on eight plays and finishing the drive with a 35-yard touchdown catch to Baldwin.

It was on that touchdown to Baldwin that the 49ers made another crucial error, though. Antone Exum went for the big hit as Baldwin elevated for the catch, and his missed tackle resulted in Baldwin easily running into the end zone. Perhaps the 49ers defense would have been able to hold the Seahawks to a field goal had Exum wrapped him up, but the mistake possibly gave the Seahawks an extra four points.

There were also a couple plays early in the game where George Kittle was open over the top and Nick Mullens missed him on what would have been definite touchdowns. Besides those misses, though, Mullens had a really good game. He finished 20-for-29 for 275 yards, 9.5 yards per attempt, one touchdown, no interceptions, and a 110.6 passer rating.

Mullens Effectively Spread the Ball Around

Despite his mistakes on the overthrows to Kittle, Mullens had a really effective game getting multiple options involved in the passing game. Eight different 49ers players had at least one catch, and four had at least 45 yards receiving. Dante Pettis led the 49ers with 83 receiving yards. He tied for the team lead with five catches, sharing the honor with Matt Breida, who finished with 46 yards. Mullens was able to really utilize his tight ends this game, as Kittle caught three passes for 51 yards and Celek caught two passes for 61 yards including the touchdown.

Mullens is playing well enough to deserve heading into next season as the 49ers second-string quarterback when Jimmy Garoppolo eventually returns from injury. In the previous two games before this one, Mullens accumulated the most combined passing yards by any 49ers quarterback over a two-game stretch since Steve Young.

More Undisciplined Play in the Second Half

The second half started with three consecutive punts between the two squads, and then some undisciplined play began to impact both teams. On a drive that eventually ended with a 33-yard field goal by Gould to give the 49ers a 20-13 lead, numerous 15-yard penalties were committed.

Three of those 15-yarders were committed by the Seahawks defense, but a crucial one was committed in the red-zone by Wilson. The Wilson 15-yard penalty essentially forced the 49ers to settle for a field goal, although they had really been gifted 45 yards by Seahawks penalties on that drive prior to that Wilson mistake.

Seahawks Have Great Performance Running the Ball

The responding Seahawks drive featured a couple big runs from Chris Carson, who eventually powered in a game-tying touchdown on a fourth and one from the one-yard-line on a tenacious second effort.

Carson had a fantastic game, earning 119 rushing yards on 22 carries and adding six receptions as a pass catcher for 29 receiving yards. The Seahawks as a team accumulated 168 rushing yards and averaged 4.8 yards per run, while the 49ers ran for just 94 yards on 3.6 yards per run.

That effectiveness on the ground allowed the Seahawks to win the time of possession battle 37:14 to 29:40. The Seahawks were also able to prolong drives better than the 49ers, as they went 9-19 on third downs while the 49ers went just 3-10 on third downs.

Late Opportunities to Win for Both Teams

The game entered the fourth quarter tied 20-20, and it started to look like one of the typical games that the 49ers would somehow find a way to lose despite being in great position to win. A nice throw by Mullens to Kittle facing a heavy blitz put the 49ers into field goal range, and the drive was concluded with a 45-yard field goal to put the 49ers up 23-20 with 9:51 left in the game.

The Seahawks responded with a drive that featured a 27-yard catch by Baldwin to move the team into field goal range. A big third-down sack by DeForest Buckner forced the Seahawks to settle for a 48-yard Janikowski field goal to tie the game 23-23 with 5:21 remaining in the game. Buckner was dominant throughout the game, recording two sacks, three quarterback hits, and four tackles for loss.

Russell Wilson is always elusive and great at scrambling to keep plays alive and give his receivers extra time to find holes in the secondary. Wilson had a really good game, going 23-for-31 for 237 yards, 7.6 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a 117.3 passer rating.

Baldwin was the recipient of both those Wilson touchdown passes, and had four total receptions and led the team with 77 receiving yards. Mike Davis led the Seahawks with eight catches and contributed 63 receiving yards to their efforts in the passing game.

The 49ers got the ball back with 5:21 remaining in the game but proceeded to go three and out and only take 1:00 off the clock. Kendrick Bourne dropped a crucial pass on third down which would have extended the drive and perhaps resulted in a 49ers score as time wound down.

The Seahawks then got the ball back on their own 34-yard line with 4:21 left in the game, and it looked like they were poised to pull out the victory. Wilson has been one of the best fourth-quarter field generals during his career, and it was going to be a tall task for the 49ers defense to keep his offense off the board.

They rose to the occasion, though, and really just let the Seahawks make big mistakes without feeling the need to outdo them in that capacity. The Seahawks were called for holding on third down, but Cassius Marsh jumped offsides to make it a closer third and nine. The 49ers defense stopped the Seahawks offense from converting on that third down, though. The Seahawks were forced to punt, giving the 49ers the ball back with 2:37 left in the game.

Trent Taylor dropped a pass that would have set up a manageable third down after the 49ers had been backed up by a Jarran Reed sack on first down of that possession. Mullens was hit 10 times over the course of the game and sacked three times, twice by Reed and the other time by Frank Clark.

Reed sacked Mullens again on that next third down, and the 49ers punted the ball back to the Seahawks, who got backed up by an illegal block on the punt return to start their drive on their own 26-yard line with 1:48 left in the game and needing just a field goal for the win. A crucial holding call by Ethan Pocic impeded that Seahawks drive, though, and the game went into overtime after both teams had numerous chances to seal a victory.

The Seahawks won the toss to start with the ball in overtime, but again a holding penalty forced them into a long third down and an eventual punt. The Seahawks committed a total of 14 penalties in that game for 148 yards, and ultimately the costly ones on important drives were their demise.

The 49ers got the ball for their first possession of overtime at their own 38-yard line and needing just a field goal to win. A pass interference call on the Seahawks and a nice run from Wilson put the 49ers in field goal range and allowed Gould to kick the game-winner.

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