Marshawn Lynch reached the century mark in rushing yards for the fifth consecutive matchup with San Francisco, leading the Seahawks to a convincing 20-3 victory over the 49ers on Thursday night. Here’s what you need to know:
1. This was a reestablish-your-identity game for the Seahawks, leaning heavily on two tight-end sets and a bulldozing Lynch while shoving the 49ers around in an impressive display of pure power football. Lynch rushed nine times on the opening touchdown drive alone, including five carries inside San Francisco’s 3-yard line. If there were any questions about Lynch regaining peak form this season, he answered them with authority. With Lynch in “Beast Mode” and the defense regaining “Legion of Boom” form, the Seahawks once again resemble a playoff contender after blowing fourth-quarter leads to undefeated teams in each of the past two weeks. They draw an injury-ravaged Cowboys outfit ahead of their Week 9 bye.
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2. Colin Kaepernick got off to an inauspicious start, beaning an equipment staffer 10 yards out of bounds on an errant first-quarter fastball. It was perhaps a career-defining throw for a quarterback who has notoriously failed to grasp the fine art of ball placement and touch passing. After the game, Kaepernick had a bandage on his right thumb and told reporters it was swollen but not broken.
The Week 3 Jimmy Clausen-led Bears are the only offense with fewer first downs than the 49ers‘ eight on Thursday night. To be fair, Kaepernick received little support from his surrounding talent. The offensive line’s attempt at pass protection resembled a jailbreak exercise. The Niners’ wide receivers managed just two more catches than their cornerbacks. This entire unit appears to be backsliding after showing signs of life the past two weeks. When Jim Tomsula’s squad plays badly, no team looks worse.
3. The most consistently dominant players on a star-studded Seattle defense this season, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril feasted on the severely overmatched right side of San Francisco’s offense line with center Marcus Martin, guard Jordan Devey and tackle Erik Pears. The dynamic duo combined for five sacks, six quarterback hits and a forced fumble. They will both have strong cases for Around The NFL‘s mid-season All-Pro team in two weeks.
4. The Seahawks‘ offensive line wasn’t much better, with left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Garry Gilliam both missing time due to injuries. Russell Wilson has been sacked more than any other quarterback this season.
5. The 49ers have their own version of Avril in second-year pass rusher Aaron Lynch, who is now tied for fourth in the NFL with five sacks on the season. While the front seven has grown soft after losing Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Ray McDonald and Chris Borland this past offseason, Lynch has been a bright spot.
6. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers field trade offers for Vernon Davis after he led the team in receiving Thursday night. Bay Area News Group’s Cam Inman opined to Around The NFL that Garrett Celek is San Francisco’s No. 1 tight end. Davis is due to reach free agency in March.
7. Seahawks return ace Tyler Lockett hauled in a beautiful 43-yard bucket-drop from Russell Wilson, joining Randall Cobb as the only rookies in the past 15 years with a touchdown via kickoff return, punt return and pass reception.
8. Injuries continue to hamper Carlos Hyde‘s season. When asked by reporters after the game if he had a stress fracture in his foot, Hyde said “something like that” before describing his pain as a six out of 10. Hyde finished with 40 yards on 11 carries.