By Chris Cluff
The Seahawks’ game against the 49ers on Thursday was by no means a must-win, and losing it was certainly not the end of the season.
But it definitely was a gauge of the Seahawks’ progress through seven games, showing us just how far they are from becoming a strong playoff team. We’d say still about two touchdowns a game.
The offense’s mistake-filled, TD-less performance in the 13-6 loss to San Francisco was worse than either 49er game last season and shows just how far rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and his receivers have to go if the Hawks are going to become a playoff team this season.
Wilson was a very rookie-like 9 of 23 for 122 yards, including a horrendously ineffective 3 of 10 for nine yards in the second half. His receivers, including rookie running back Robert Turbin, dropped five passes, and the passing attack was almost completely absent.
“There were plays that we’ll always want to know what would’ve happened,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters, per The News Tribune. “The drops really did make a difference. When it’s that close, one play can make a huge difference.”
On top of that, the Seahawks were beaten on special teams by the Niners again. The Seattle defense also could not stop the 49ers’ running game, which continues to have big days against the Hawks.
That all adds up to a 4-3 record, which is exactly where we had the Hawks at this point (although we had them beating Arizona and St. Louis and losing to Green Bay and Carolina).
The key to this season always was going to be whether the passing game came around. That has not changed.
While they made minor strides in wins at Carolina and vs. New England, Wilson and his receivers took a step back against the 49ers. It was not unexpected, since they were going against the No. 1 defense in the league — and doing so on a short week of preparation.
“I had a few opportunities where I could have made some plays, and I didn’t come through,” Golden Tate told the Tribune after he failed to pull in a couple of passes. “It’s uncharacteristic of me. But I’m not discouraged at all. I’m going to continue to work hard, and I’ll be back next week.”
Wilson and the receivers will have to put this game behind them and try to pick up again from the positive performance against the Patriots.
The Hawks have 10 days to prepare for a trip to Detroit before home games against Minnesota and the Jets. The passing game has to grow up during this stretch.
Wilson and the receivers have to start taking advantage of Marshawn Lynch’s powerful running and the defense’s ability to keep opposing teams from scoring.
The Hawks are ahead of where they were at this point last season (4-3 vs. 2-5), and the second half of their schedule is easier than the first half was.
The 49er game was not a must-win, but it certainly showed how far the Seattle passing game still has to go if the Hawks are going to become a playoff team this season.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.