By Sam McPherson
The San Francisco 49ers turned in a partially spirited effort against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field, out-scoring their hated NFC West rivals, 13-9, over the final 31 minutes of the game. Unfortunately, the Seahawks built a 20-0 lead in the first 29 minutes.READ MORE: 'I Feel Taken Advantage Of': Call Kurtis Investigates Insurance Rates Pricing People Out Of The Foothills
The 29-13 makes this game look closer than it was, as the 49ers continued their strange struggles on the road. With the loss, San Francisco drops to 3-7 on the season and 0-5 on the road. The 49ers have been outscored by 105 points in games away from Levi’s Stadium, which is quite ugly.
>Considering the the offense was missing running back Carlos Hyde, the S.F. offense did well to just about reach its season scoring average (which is the worst in the NFL). The 49ers gained 306 yards total, but they were limited to just 2-for-11 on third-down conversions.
On the day the S.F. organization announced former starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick would undergo season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, new starting QB Blaine Gabbert gave a spirited effort. He threw for 264 yards and a touchdown, without tossing an interception (although Seattle defenders dropped at least two easy picks). He also ran for 22 yards on four scrambles.
The running game was relatively absent, as the 49ers called only 12 running plays on the day. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin did play, despite his hamstring woes, and he led the team with 93 receiving yards. Tight end Vance McDonald scored the team’s only TD on a pass from Gabbert right before halftime.
The Seahawks got 209 rushing yards from backup rookie RB Thomas Rawls, as Marshawn Lynch didn’t play due to injury. QB Russell Wilson completed 24-of-29 passes for 260 yards and three TDs. Seattle went 8-for-14 on third-down conversions. Yes, it really was that easy today against the S.F. defense.
The 49ers defense gave up 508 yards total, which isn’t reflected on the scoreboard. It is reflected, however, in the time of possession: The Seahawks held the ball for well over 37 minutes in this one, thus wearing out the S.F. defenders as the game went deeper into the fourth quarter.READ MORE: WATCH: Suspect Recorded Running From Hit-And-Run Crash Scene In Sacramento
Special Teams: A
Phil Dawson might be on his way to the team MVP award for 2015. He made both his field-goal attempts in this game and has missed just one kick all season. The 49ers may not be scoring much this season, but Dawson has been as reliable as NFL kickers come.
How can the 49ers consistently be so unprepared on the road for the start of games? On Almost every trip away from Levi’s Stadium this year, San Francisco has faced huge second-quarter/halftime deficits. This game was no different. The coaching staff seems to be clueless in preparing the team for these road trips.
Look at these first-half deficits in road games: 29-3 against Pittsburgh, 28-0 against Arizona, 13-3 against New York, 20-6 against St. Louis. Where is this team’s mindset at kickoff when it is away from home? These slow starts are inexcusable for an NFL coaching staff, and Head Coach Jim Tomsula must bear the responsibility.
What’s Left Now For 2015?
The 49ers host the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals next week at Levi’s Stadium, and if form holds, San Francisco will be competitive. But the Cardinals may be the best team in the NFL, and that’s a scary thought for the Levi’s Stadium crowd next weekend.
In the final six games of 2015, Gabbert will be the QB, and the S.F. organization needs to assess what direction they want to go next year with this coaching staff. Having the worst offense in the league, injuries or not, is not very 49ers-like, and somewhere on the staff, changes need to be made for 2016.MORE NEWS: 'Have A Plan To Get Out': New Survey Shows Several Greater Sacramento-Area Cities Have High Fire Risk
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey and fantasy sports for CBS, AXS and Examiner. He also is an Ironman triathlete and certified triathlon coach.