Spoiler alert: Colin Kaepernick (or at least his Madden NFL 25 avatar) will be losing an eyebrow as per the bet in the Madden TV commercial since Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks dominated the San Francisco 49ers Sunday evening, 29-3.
After last week’s QB performance, I gave Wilson a ‘B’ grade, with the expectation that he and the Hawks could and would improve. Kaepernick received an ‘A’ for besting the always-formidable Green Bay Packers. Let’s see how they made the grade and matched up against each other this week.
Just for reference, Wilson and Kaepernick first met as starting QBs week 16 of the 2012 season on Seattle’s home turf. The Seahawks clinched the NFC Wild Card playoff spot by stomping on the first place 49ers, 42-13. Some claimed that the game was not a good representation of how San Francisco and Seattle stacked up against each other because the 49ers were coming off a battle against the New England Patriots the week before, in which the Niners were the close victors. However, Kaepernick completed 19 of 36 passes, threw for 244 yards, had one TD and an interception, and was their top rusher with seven carries for 31 yards. He averaged about seven yards passing and four yards rushing, while Wilson averaged eight yards passing and five yards rushing. This effort showed that Kaepernick wasn’t necessarily crippled by fatigue, but arguably that he was overwhelmed by the environment (with the rain, the 12th Man, first visit to the CLink) and that he and the Niners were simply outplayed by a better team.
During that game, Wilson was an economical QB, throwing just 171 yards, yet he completed 15 of 21 passes with one interception and a career-high four TD passes. He also kept pace with Kaepernick in the rushing department with six carries for 29 yards. But Wilson pulled away as the superior QB by sharing the ball and utilizing his receivers, particularly “the Beast,” RB Marshawn Lynch, who had a stellar performance with 26 carries for 111 yards and one TD, and also two catches for 19 yards and one TD.
Sunday Night by the Numbers
Once again, the Hawks’ defense limited Kaepernick and the 49ers’ offensive line. Kaepernick was held to only 13 of 28 completed passes for 127 yards, with three interceptions and no TDs. This was his worst showing in the passing game as a starter, or since he took over for Alex Smith week 11 last season. Kaepernick went from a solid quarterback rating (QBR) last week of 89.8, down to a QBR of 14. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Kaepernick was the Niners’ top rusher, which is not saying much, with nine carries for 87 yards.
On the opposite side of the field, Wilson’s numbers weren’t that impressive and with a QBR of 25.9. Wilson completed eight of 19 passes for 142 yards, threw one TD and an interception – and in the series right after safety Earl Thomas’ dramatic pick off Kaepernick at the Seahawks’ one yard line in the first quarter, no less. That turnover could’ve been a game changer with no score and the momentum in the 49ers’ favor. However, it was Wilson’s ability to make plays throughout the game and find the open man (usually that was Lynch, who by the way had an amazing night with a total of 135 yards: 28 carries for 98 yards and two TDs, and three catches for 37 yards and one TD) that was a huge factor – a similar combination that led to the win last year.
Kaepernick: Had a frustrating night, especially after coming off the high of last week’s game against the Packers. The team as a whole doomed themselves with 12 penalties totaling 121 yards and five turnovers. However, the QB sets the stage and Kaepernick lacked necessary adjustment without the passing game.
Wilson: Showed improvement from last week. Against the Carolina Panthers, Wilson didn’t get into a rhythm until the fourth quarter. Against the 49ers, he started off shaky again, but improved starting with the 51-yard bomb to WR Doug Baldwin in the third quarter, which series ended with the night’s first TD. Wilson and the Hawks are 2-0 against Kaepernick and the 49ers, and 2-0 on the current season. Though early, this puts Seattle as the frontrunner for the NFC title this year (knock on wood)!