49ers

49ers takeaways: What we learned from blowout loss to Seahawks

49ers takeaways: What we learned from blowout loss to Seahawks

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SEATTLE — The only thing that changed with Richard Sherman moving to the 49ers is that he now has a different perspective of the Seahawks’ dominance.

Russell Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Seahawks cruised to their 10th consecutive victory over the 49ers on Sunday with a 43-16 decision at CenturyLink Field.

After Wilson’s first touchdown, a 4-yard pass to Jaron Brown, the Seahawks reenacted one of Sherman’s top moment with Seattle — the play that kicked off the head-to-head win streak.

Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Michael Crabtree late in the NFC Championship game in January 2014. Teammate Malcolm Smith, also now with the 49ers, made the interception to clinch the victory to send the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl championship.

For the reenactment as part of their touchdown celebration, Doug Baldwin played the role of Sherman, while David Moore was Malcolm Smith.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday’s game:

Second-guessing Saleh

Even when completely healthy, it’s not a great matchup for Smith, the veteran linebacker, to be running down the field with Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

But Smith has been bothered recently with an Achilles injury, making the challenge even more problematic for Smith. Lockett entered the game with 43 catches for 661 yards (15.4 average) and a Seahawks-best eight touchdowns.

49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has come under criticism this season, and the flaw in the defense of asking Smith to run with Lockett definitely is worthy of second-guessing. The play resulted in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson.

Smith’s coverage was good, but Lockett created separation with a subtle push-off as the ball arrived. Free safety Jaquiski Tartt, from the middle of the field, wasn’t in position to provide help on the deep pass.
The 49ers entered the game with the NFL’s No. 11-ranked defense in yards allowed and tied for 26th in points allowed.

Wilson provides spark, then is injured

Running back Matt Breida had a big day one week ago at Tampa Bay, but the 49ers’ coaching staff felt as if he did not take full advantage of the blocking efforts.

Breida is still showing the effects of an ankle injury that has lingered through most of this season. Although he rushed for 106 yards the Buccaneers, the coaching staff observed that Breida did not make defenders miss.

On Sunday, the 49ers countered with a heavy dose of running back Jeff Wilson, who was called up from the practice squad a week earlier. And Wilson’s fresh legs were on display in the first half, as he gained 39 yards on seven carries and caught three passes for 44 yards.

But Wilson did not stay healthy for long, as he sustained a foot injury late in the first half. Wilson, whom the 49ers signed as an undrafted rookie from North Texas, also was ruled to have fumbled on a play in which it looked as if the ball popped loose at the Seattle 3-yard line.

Wilson finished with 61 yards rushing and eight catches for 73 yards. Breida carried five times for just 6 yards.

Look for the 49ers to continue to use Wilson a lot down the stretch to limit some of the wear-and-tear on Breida.

[RELATED: Pettis has career day in return to Seattle]

49ers see what Harris can do

Rookie strong safety Marcell Harris made his first NFL start Sunday, as the team moved Jaquiski Tartt to free safety to open the door for the sixth-round pick.

Harris had not started a game since the end of the 2016 season at Florida. He missed his entire senior season due to a torn Achilles.

Harris spent the first eight weeks of the season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He played primarily on special teams the past three games.

On Sunday, Harris recorded two solo tackles, four total, while playing the entire game. Tartt sustained a shoulder stinger while making a tackle on the kickoff to open the second half, and Antone Exum took over at free safety for the remainder of the game.

With the season hopelessly lost, the 49ers must continue to find opportunities for many of their young players to get opportunities. In the final four games, the 49ers should look to get cornerback Tarvarius Moore, a third-round pick, onto the field to gain some experience, if he's available. Moore left the game in the fourth quarter with a jaw injury.

How 49ers trading for Emmanuel Sanders has helped rookie Deebo Samuel

How 49ers trading for Emmanuel Sanders has helped rookie Deebo Samuel

The 49ers' offense has gone to a whole new level since acquiring veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders from the Broncos for two future draft picks. 

Sanders came to San Francisco on Oct. 22, five days before the 49ers' Week 8 matchup against the Panthers. He caught a touchdown in his team debut, and the 49ers scored 51 points. Not a bad start. 

Since adding Sanders to the offense, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has completed 70.4 percent of his pass attempts for 1,931 yards, 18 passing touchdowns and only five interceptions the last seven games. It's safe to say the QB enjoys having a sure-handed receiver. Sanders has 28 receptions for 407 yards receiving and three touchdowns. 

While Garoppolo and Sanders have found an instant connection, the trade clearly benefitted a 49ers rookie, too. Deebo Samuel has seen his numbers soar in recent weeks. 

Samuel ranks 10th in the NFL in receptions (32) since the trade and ninth in yards (472). He also has scored three touchdowns -- two receiving and one rushing. 

The 49ers' second-round pick from last April's draft is just one of four rookie wideouts to have at least 600 receiving yards. He has 640 on the year, but his only two games with over 100 yards receiving have come after the Sanders trade. 

Coach Kyle Shanahan finally has a trio of receivers he can trust in Sanders, Samuel and second-year pro Kendrick Bourne. With Sanders on board, Samuel now is a dangerous No. 2 who teams sometimes forget about, but have to fear. 

[RELATED: Jimmy G becomes first 49ers QB to win POTW since 2012]

Despite the 49ers adding Sanders, Samuel has seen his targets go up the last seven weeks. Samuel was averaging 4.4 targets per game before the trade, and now is seeing an average of 6.4 targets per game. 

The rookie receiver surely is taking notes watching the veteran, and the two have formed a duo that opposing teams can't take lightly. 

49ers fear top nose tackle D.J. Jones out for season with ankle injury

49ers fear top nose tackle D.J. Jones out for season with ankle injury

SANTA CLARA – The 49ers absorbed another big loss from their exciting victory in New Orleans on Sunday, as starting nose tackle D.J. Jones sustained a “significant” ankle injury, coach Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday.

Shanahan said the 49ers are bracing to lose Jones for the remainder of the season. Jones started all 11 games in which he appeared this season. He has recorded 23 tackles and two sacks.

“We’re worried about it,” Shanahan said. “We’ll wait on some other opinions and stuff, but it’s a pretty significant one.”

The 49ers could activate defensive lineman Kentavius Street from injured reserve. He began practicing with the club last week after going on IR before the first game of the regular season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. Street was a fourth-round pick of the 49ers in 2018 from North Carolina State. He missed his entire rookie season with an ACL injury.

“It feel great,” Street said. ‘Just knocking some rust off, just making sure my tools are as sharp as they can be. But besides that, I feel great. . . Oh, yeah. I could run through a wall right now.”

In Jones’ absence, the 49ers can turn to Solomon Thomas or Sheldon Day to start at nose tackle, with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead also capable of playing different spots on the defensive line.

“He’s irreplaceable,” Buckner said. “D.J. is explosive. He can really hurt you in the run game and you saw his pass-rush skills. He just goes right through people. He’s a really good D-lineman, and he’s going to be one of the guys who’s really missed.

“Everybody has to kick up their game a notch.”

The 49ers placed two offensive players on season-ending injured reserve this week. Center Weston Richburg sustained a torn patellar tendon in the victory over the Saints. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is out with knee and ankle issues.

“That’s December football,” 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said. “Everyone across the league has that, dealing with injuries. But it’s just when guys get their number called, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, guys who haven’t even played that much, they’re just ready for the moment. And so you got to appreciate that.

“I think you got to give our coaches a lot of credit for getting those ready in practice, the behind-the-scenes stuff and it’s starting to pay off now.”

Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have built enough depth on the team over the past three seasons to be able to withstand a lot of injuries. That depth will be needed more than ever, with defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Richard Sherman also expected to miss time with injuries.

“(With) John and Kyle, the past couple years have been really hard,” Buckner said. “We’ve been rebuilding, obviously. Just to have that patience to (build) that depth that we have now, it’s working out for us.”

[RELATED: Falcons coach defends Shanahan's play-calling in Super Bowl]

Practice participation

The following players are not scheduled to practice on Wednesday:

DE Dee Ford (hamstring)
DT D.J. Jones (ankle)
CB Richard Sherman (hamstring)
SS Jaquiski Tartt (ribs)
DT Jullian Taylor (elbow)
CB K’Waun Williams (concussion)