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December 14, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Three post-game impressions from Jenks and Condotta

Here are three post-game impressions from Times beat writers Jayson Jenks and Bob Condotta.

First, Jenks:

1, Seattle’s pass rush is starting to peak. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, the Seahawks’ two best pass rushers, faced double and triple teams against the 49ers. That made their jobs more difficult on Sunday, bit it also meant more opportunities for defensive tackle Jordan Hill and edge rusher Bruce Irvin. Hill and Irvin combined for three sacks, and they made the 49ers pay for showing Avril and Bennett so much attention. The ability to burn teams when they do something like that is critical, and the Seahawks are finally starting to take advantage of those openings. The Seahawks had six sacks and rarely let San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick get comfortable. As Avril said, “Guys are making the plays they’re supposed to make. With me and Mike sometimes, we get double and triple teamed, and other guys are stepping up. It’s good to see.”

2, Jermaine Kearse had his best game since “last year.” Those were Kearse’s words, and he’s right: Kearse had his most receiving yards (78) since last season, and he hauled in his third-longest catch of the season (47 yards). Kearse’s season has been disappointing for many fans, and I understand why. He hasn’t put up the kinds of numbers people were hoping for, especially after the departure of Percy Harvin midseason. But Kearse’s numbers are better than last season — he had 346 yards last year and is already at 529 yards this season — and in the last two weeks he’s made a couple of big, tough catches. He’s also an excellent blocker on the edge, and he gives Russell Wilson a jump ball threat down the field. If he can carry over his performance from Sunday, that will be a big boost for Seattle’s offense.

3, We watched the Seahawks tap into their identity right before our eyes. The Seahawks ran the ball only 11 times in the first half compared to 18 passing attempts for Russell Wilson. That’s not the way the Seahawks like to operate, and it was so blatantly obvious after halftime what the plan was: Run the ball, then run it some more for good measure. Marshawn Lynch had all but 15 of his 91 yards after halftime as the Seahawks ran the ball 21 times in the second half while throwing it just six times. The Seahawks haven’t scored more than 24 points in their last five games, and at this point it seems pretty clear that their offense, while capable of being explosive at times, isn’t going to score bunches of points. But the Seahawks can control the ball, milk the clock and establish the tone of the game by running the ball. That’s what happened against the 49ers. ​

And from Condotta.

1, Marshawn Lynch remains the offensive heartbeat of this team. This is evident every week. But it’s the fact that it’s evident every week that makes it that much more amazing. Talk consistent, Lynch is it. He has rushed for 89 or more yards in five of the last six games, averaging 97 yards in that span. And in another thing that happens every week, there were more strong words from teammates about what he means to the team. Receiver Doug Baldwin said “he is unbelievable at hat he does. I don’t know what we would do without him. I can’t say enough about my boy. He’s just ridiculous at running the football.” And then asked if he could imagine the Seattle offense without Lynch, he said “I don’t want to. So I’m not even going to answer that question.”

2. Bobby Wagner should make the Pro Bowl. The only reason he wouldn’t, of course, is the five games he missed. But without having done the extensive research, I have to imagine all kinds of guys have missed a few games and made the Pro Bowl. When he’s been healthy this year he has been as good as any linebacker in the NFL, something we saw again today. Wagner was everywhere, again acting as one of the primary spies on Colin Kaepernick and also playing standout run defense. He also had a sack one of Seattle’s linebacker blitzes up the middle, something that worked well today.

3. Paul Richardson is becoming a factor. He only had three catches today. But that came on a day when the Seahawks had just 12 as a team — as Jayson noted, the Seahawks quickly reverted to their run-first mentality in the second half. But Richardson made his catches count. There was an 11-yarder on a third-and-10 that helped set up Seattle’s first touchdown. And then he scored Seattle’s second TD on a 10-yard catch early in the fourth quarter. His other catch was a 9-harder on which San Francisco’s Eric Reid was called for a personal foul, which turned into a 24-yard gain that set up Seattle’s field goal in the first quarter. No doubt, his numbers for the season don’t wow you — 19 catches for 159 yards, But he at least his making his catches count.



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