The Seattle Seahawks took control of the NFC West on Sunday in the most forceful imaginable way.
The 49ers’ quest for back-to-back division titles was dealt a near-fatal blow, as the Seahawks steamrolled to a 37-27 victory in a key Week 8 game at an empty CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks improved to 6-1 atop the NFC West standings, while the 49ers remained in last place in the division with a 4-4 record.
Remember that Seahawks defense that had gotten off to a historically bad start this season? That unit absolutely abused the 49ers’ offense on Sunday. The 49ers were hoping to go to Seattle and tighten up the division race. Instead, they got shoved to the back of the line.
Backup quarterback Nick Mullens entered for Jimmy Garoppolo at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and the 49ers showed some life. But it was much too late.
Here are three takeaways from the 49ers’ blowout loss in Seattle:
No answers for Wilson-Metcalf combo
The Seahawks’ stars played like stars. The 49ers’ top players ... uh, did not.
Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf and Bobby Wagner were the best players on the field. Meanwhile, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo struggled from the opening drive all the way through.
Garoppolo had a horrible game when the 49ers needed him to make all the necessary pre-snap reads and get the ball out quickly and accurately to beat the constant Seahawks pressure. He could not get the ball to the 49ers’ best player, tight end George Kittle, who caught just one pass for 14 yards through the point in the game the Seahawks took a 27-7 lead.
Garoppolo completed 11 of 16 passes for 84 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He left in the second half with an aggravation of the ankle injury that kept him out of two games earlier this season.
Kittle had two receptions for 39 yards. He exited in the fourth quarter with a foot injury.
Wilson and Metcalf proved to be an unbeatable combination for the Seahawks. Wilson threw for 261 yards and four touchdowns. Metcalf posted career-highs with 12 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Wagner, the Seahawks’ defensive leader and a five-time All-Pro player, led the way on his side of the ball. Wagner registered 11 tackles and two sacks.
Missed opportunities early
The 49ers’ defense set the tone early in Sunday’s game. But coach Kyle Shanahan, Garoppolo and the offense did not take advantage. The miscues of the offense gave the Seahawks enough time before Wilson and Metcalf took over in the second quarter.
Shanahan had no luck with a third-down play with running back Jerick McKinnon in the wildcat formation. Former 49ers defensive lineman Damontre Moore blew up the play and dropped McKinnon for a 3-yard loss on a third-and-5 from the Seattle 37.
On the 49ers’ next possession, again on a third-and-5, former 49ers defensive back D.J. Reed intercepted Garoppolo at the Seattle 13.
There went two prime scoring chances and an opportunity for the 49ers to stake themselves to an early lead. Instead, Metcalf gave Seattle a 6-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter when he took a Wilson pass on a crossing and went 46 yards for a touchdown.
He gave the Seahawks a 13-7 lead later in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown reception against Emmanuel Moseley.
Running out of backfield options
Running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson are on injured reserve. Tevin Coleman returned to action but appeared in the first half to aggravate a knee injury that kept him sidelined for the past five games.
Coleman had three carries for 20 yards before leaving the game. The usual-formidable 49ers’ running game struggled to get going with JaMycal Hasty and Jerick McKinnon as the team’s only healthy running backs.
Hasty, an undrafted rookie from Baylor, saw his most significant playing time. He gave the 49ers a 7-6 lead in the second quarter on an impressive 1-yard scoring run -- his first NFL touchdown. Wagner met Hasty in the hole, but Hasty managed to reach the ball over the goal line.
That was one of the rare plays in the first half when Wagner was beaten. Wagner had nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack of Garoppolo in the first half alone.
Hasty finished with just 29 yards on 12 rushing attempts, while McKinnon had minus-1 yard on three carries.