2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 4: Seahawks 28, 49'ers 21 (By Ross Jacobs)
I started watching this game thinking I was about to see a pretty good Seattle team slowly but surely control the game against a weaker SF squad. I was not prepared to see the 49'ers look like the better team for a good chunk of this game.
SF was dominating the early portion of this game. I'm not sure the Seahawks broke 20 yards of offense until the first half was nearly over. Not only was the SF defensive line dominating them up front, but Russ and his WR's couldn't take advantage of a theoretically poor 49'er secondary. It wasn't a fluke either. It was pure domination.
The spark for Seattle was, shockingly, Alex Collins. He started a series with a couple big runs and a nice catch downfield and that got Seattle to the end zone where Metcalf would tie the game. In the second half Wilson put together a nice drive and took the lead on a scramble for a TD. The game was 14-7 Seattle at that point, but SF fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Seattle got the ball at the 49'er 15 yard line. Of course they punched in the easy TD and it proved to be too large a gap for Trey Lance to overcome.
Lance would pull the game back to 21-13, but the Seahawks answered again to make it 28-13 and the game looked over for good. Once again though Lance drove the 49'ers down the field and scored to make it a 7 point game. SF tried an onside kick with about a 1:30 left but didn't recover.
I don't think there's a massive gap between these two teams, but SF definitely played better for most of the game, and it was only the fumbled kickoff that gave Seattle an easy TD for the lead. Seattle has now beaten an injured Colts team, lost to the not great Titans, gotten spanked by the Vikings, and gotten lucky to beat the 49'ers. They aren't a great team. They are an average team that's 19th in yards per game, 10th in scoring with some lucky turnovers going their way (and playing some bad defenses), dead last in defensive yards per game, and 19th in defensive scoring per game. I'm sure Wilson will find some way to get them to 9 or 10 wins like he always does, but this looks like the weakest Seattle unit I've seen in a few years.
San Francisco has a slightly better offense, top 12 or so despite Garoppolo's limitations, and their defense is average to slightly below average. They gave up a flurry of late points to the Lions after crushing them most of the game, held the Eagles down (with some luck), got smoked by the Packers, and really did a good job against the Seahawks. It's not a horrible unit. They'll finish around .500 or so, not bad but not really a playoff contender either.
--Of course you know I'm starting with Trey Lance (9-18 for 157 yards, 2 TD/0 INT, 7-41-0). Let me begin with a humble statement: I was right all along.
In the entire first half Garoppolo scored once. In the 2nd half, Lance scored twice. Yes, one was a busted play of sorts, but those types of things happen because defenses are worried about his running ability. Lance should have been starting from day 1. If he had, the 49'ers might not have lost this game. Let me explain...
When Lance started the 2nd half for an injured Garoppolo, he came out and was very shaky for a couple of series, lots of his usual inaccurate passes, not seeing defenders, etc. But as the game went on he started to settle down, and you could see with every passing snap that he was improving. I've never seen anything like it. RC watched some of it live and saw the same thing.
Lance was progressing rapidly from snap to snap and by the end of the game he was starting to look like the guy I've been howling about for months. Still not the greatest passer, but a big, strong, fast and mobile guy that can break tackles, extend plays, and make something out of nothing. We finally saw him run in an explosive fashion, not just your typical mobile QB stuff, but running with speed and agility. He's definitely got that and RC and I were beginning to get worried that I had overestimated his running ability. No such worry now. I should also point out that, while there was definitely a package of plays ready for Lance, this wasn't him working with a dedicated game plan built around him. Once he becomes the full-time starter the offense should be nicely tailored to his strengths.
The stupid part is that Kyle Shanahan has been holding back Lance for whatever reason, and Lance was still jittery as a result. If he had been getting snaps since week 1, all that would have been out of his system and who knows where he might have progressed to already. If he's improving exponentially with every snap (this is what I meant by his ceiling is insanely high due to his lack of reps in college), then it's a crime to hold him back and not give him those reps. You could have started him against the garbage Lions and Eagles and been fine, but no, Kyle is too smart for that, and now he's dug himself a hole. And now to top it off, he's talking about starting Garoppolo again next week if he's not hurt.
What kind of idiot watches his veteran struggle to score while his hotshot rookie is putting points up every time he comes in the game and decides to stick with the veteran? This is mismanagement at its worst, and I think it's going to cost Kyle his job.
I still say we can expect low QB1 numbers from Lance once he's the starter. He's going to be an erratic passer for sure, but his legs are going to do the damage, and he's still capable of making some ridiculous plays in the passing game. That's been the argument for him all along. Even if he's a lesser passer, his legs make him more dangerous all-around than Jimmy. He opens up the offense by forcing the defense to account for him as a runner and that helps everyone. The offense is better with Lance in, mistakes and all. It's just a matter of time, if not this week then soon...
Actually, I hope it's not this week as the 49'ers have to face the Arizona defense, and that is not where I want Lance taking his first starting action. If he does it could be a pick 6 fest for the Arizona defense.
--Further proving my point about Lance elevating the entire offense, how much better did Trey Sermon (19-89-0) look in the 2nd half? It's not magic. Running QB's are good for the ypc of RB's. It gives them more room to run because now the LB's can't vacate their lanes and crash down on the line. We've seen this time and time again. Just look at the numbers for the Seattle RB's before and after Russell Wilson or any of the guys in Baltimore. Whoever is at RB each week is going to benefit from having Lance in. Of course he will steal a few goalline TD's, but that's the price you pay.
Sermon took about the same number of snaps as he did last week, but this week they trusted him to carry the ball much more often and he looked decent but still not amazing. I thought he was running more decisively than we had seen so far. I don't think he's seized the job and next week Elijah Mitchell could be back though and render this backfield a mess once again.
--Deebo Samuel (8-156-2) is still the only receiver you want from this team, but like RC talked about, I'd be looking to trade up with him if possible. Try and turn him into Cooper Kupp specifically. Samuel has a ton of value right now, and while he'll continue to be a good player, there are some questions about this offense moving forward. Also, Samuel has been good no doubt, but he's also benefiting from two fluky 75 yard TD's in the first 4 weeks. That isn't likely to continue. Don't dump him but try to sell him high into something even better. Again Kupp is the best option because people still don't fully trust him.
--I've already pointed out how disappointing George Kittle (4-40-0/11) has been for fantasy for quite some time and he repeated that output again here. He did see a total of 11 targets though and most of those came from Lance in the second half. Lance starting could be very good for Kittle because even though they might connect at a lower rate, defenses won't be able to key on Kittle and Lance has the arm to hit him further downfield. The more I think about it the more I'm opening up to the idea that Kittle might really take off with Lance as the starter. Something to think about. If we don't jump on it now though we'll miss our chance as Kittle still has a ton of name value with most people in fantasy.
--I said I didn't like this Seattle passing game the very first week and here you go. Lighting up a very weak Tennessee secondary with low volume doesn't automatically mean you're setting the world on fire. Until they prove they'll throw it more I don't want any part of trying to guess what week Tyler Lockett (4-24-0/5) and DK Metcalf (4-65-1/8) catch a TD.
Another thing I talked about before, that is becoming more and more obvious...Metcalf is the clear leader between him and Lockett. It's no longer a dynamic duo per se. Lockett is still a great player and will get some good numbers, but Wilson is looking first for DK for good reason. He's really developing into a very good all-around receiver to go along with his phenomenal athleticism. If I knew they were going to start airing it out (and that DK was healthy) I'd be a big buyer. Metcalf has as much potential as anybody in the league but is being held back by this pedestrian passing game.
Speaking of Metcalf's injury, we still haven't gotten any details on it. Based on what we knew this past weekend there was reason to believe it might have been either turf toe or a Lisfranc injury. Since he played and was seemingly fine there's almost no way it's a Lisfranc. That's great news. It does mean that turf toe is the most likely culprit, and while that's not devastating news, it is something that should be monitored closely as it can easily turn into a worse injury or drag a player down for weeks.
--The thing that's been dragging the Seattle offense down most is their utter insistence on running everything through Chris Carson (13-30-0, 1-1-0/1) despite the fact that he's just an average back. In this game it was plain as day that nothing good was coming from slamming Carson up the middle every play, and Seattle shockingly started getting Alex Collins (10-44-1, 2-34-0/2) more involved which provided the spark the Seahawks needed to get going.
Collins looked much better than Carson, and RC was all over Collins all the way back in the pre-season. I don't know what's gotten into him, but he looks slimmed down and much quicker but still running decisively and with his usual power. So...do we have a split on our hands? I doubt it. Pete Carroll is too stubborn and committed to Carson to suddenly put him in a rotation with Collins. I expect them to go back to business as usual next week. But if Carson continues to struggle this might eventually turn into something closer to a split. It definitely should not just be written off as something that will never happen again. There is danger to Carson's position now, even if it isn't right on his doorstep just yet.
--Azeez Al-Shaair (10 tackles) did it again. He's put up 10 tackles each of the two games since Dre Greenlaw got hurt. I don't see any reason why that should stop either. He just always seems to get at least a piece of every other tackle.
--Yet another player I've been talking about since pre-season is Seattle safety Quandre Diggs (7 tackles, 2 pd). He's averaging 7.75 tackles per game this year and is really forming a nice duo with Jamaal Adams. Adams gets all the headlines, but I think Diggs is the more sound player. It was Adams that allowed the busted coverage to Deebo for a TD.
Snap Counts of Interest
25 = Chris Carson
22 = Alex Collins
68 = Deebo Samuel
51 = Brandon Aiyuk
39 = Mohamed Sanu
39 = Trey Sermon