After week 1’s game against the 49ers, I’ve been trying my best not to make too much about the fact that the Seahawks currently rank #2 in total defense. While the numbers are impressive, there’s a number of reasons not to take them too seriously.
For starters, the 49ers are hardly a prolific offense. I will be horribly surprised if they are outside the bottom 5 or 6 in the league in total yards at season’s end. Stopping that offense is no great feat. Also, the 49ers were ahead for almost the entire game, and that tends to lead to some very conservative play calling.
The other side of that coin, though, is the rush defense stats. The 49ers do have a decent O-line, and they also have Frank Gore. Plus, as I mentioned above, having the lead, especially late in the game, usually means a lot of “pounding the rock.” Under the circumstances, If the Seahawks had a good game against the run, that might actually mean something.
In terms of total yards rushing, the Seahawks defense ranks 15th, which doesn’t sound too impressive. What’s impressive to me is that the Seahawks defense only gave up an average of 2.7 yards per carry, which was the 2nd best in the league. The reason that the Seahawks ended up ranked down at 15th overall was because the 49ers simply tried to run the ball more than most teams. The Seahawks also only gave up 4 first downs via the run.
Another thing to consider is that the Seahawks 3rd down defense was the best in the League in week 1. The 49ers only managed to convert just 1 of 12 (8%) of their third downs in the game.
I think Most fans will look at the 33 points given up to a fairly mediocre 49er team and assume that Seahawk defense is poor at best, but that simply isn’t the case. 17 of those points were scored on special teams (14 directly on Ted Ginn returns, and another 3 after another Ted Ginn return when the Seahawks held the 49er offense to a 3 and out) That means that there’s just 16 points that was given up by the Seahawk defense.
Not bad considering that the Seahawk offense turned the ball over 3 times, that the Seahawk defense was on the field for most of the first half, and that the 49ers were starting their drives near midfield for most of the game.