Emphasis on ‘offensive’
Is there a worse offensive line in the 2017 NFL? Which team did you think I was referring to — the Seattle Seahawks or the San Francisco 49ers? Whichever one you thought, you were correct.
Oh my goodness, why the face? If you’re the quarterback for either the Seahawks or the 49ers, you can be forgiven for the permanently etched look of panic on your face. If you last name is Hoyer or Wilson, your life is legitimately in danger.
Take my line, please. Maybe we should spend some time talking about the things that don’t threaten the Seahawks offensive line in week two. Here’s one: First-round pick and what the 49ers hoped would be a budding star, Reuben Foster, will miss Sunday’s game with a high ankle sprain. Foster was taken off the field in a cart in week one and did not return to the field. He is expected to be out multiple weeks.
Bad news for the 49ers translates to good news for the Seahawks, of course. And the Seahawks could use some good news on that front. Because the blue birds kicked off the 2017 season with three straight three-and-outs against the Green Bay Packers. It didn’t get much better after that with the Seahawks collecting only one first down in their next two possessions.
Quick question for Positive Pete Carroll about his offensive line: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Russell Wilson’s career average for pressure-per-dropback percentage from 2012 to 2016 was 37 percent—highest in the NFL. Wilson faced pressure on 44 percent (14 of 32) of his dropbacks against the Packers in week one. Given that the entire offseason was spent revamping the offensive line and the Packers don’t have what anyone considers a top defense, is this a major concern or just a blip on the radar?
Positive Pete isn’t that worried, it turns out: “I don’t think (it) is a statement of anything other than that we didn’t play well enough in the first game,’’ Carroll said of Sunday’s 17–9 loss at Lambeau Field. So, OK. He’s remaining positive. But don’t accuse him of being “happy.” Carroll was not at all happy with the way the line performed. “I am disappointed in that,” Carroll said, per the Tacoma News Tribune. “I am disappointed we are talking about that today. I thought we were moving in the right direction. I’ve seen us move in the right direction. But in this game, we weren’t as sharp.”
This was not moving in the right direction. I’m positive.
The other side
There really is no question that the Seahawks’ offensive line is downright offensive. And dangerous to Russell Wilson’s health. What is equally true is that so is the 49ers’ offensive line. San Francisco’s quarterback is just as endangered, from the looks of their contest at home against the Carolina Panthers.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a mere two out of 10 passes that traveled beyond 10 yards down the field (for a total of 26 yards). But Captain Checkdown had a reason: Hoyer was under near-constant duress all game against the visiting Panthers. When he and Wilson swap stories in group therapy, Hoyer can one-up Wilson with four sacks to three.
Like the Seahawks, 49ers followers can worry as much about the interior line play as they can about the tackles. Left guard and new Bay Area Whipping Boy, Zane Beadles, had a day that could be best described as downright Seahawkian.
The 49ers lost their expected starting guard, Joshua Garnett, to a knee injury early in camp. They acquired former Detroit Lions starter Laken Tomlinson via trade a week ago, but he was inactive on Sunday. He may be brought into the fold as the 49ers seriously consider reshuffling their offensive offensive line in time to face the blue birds in Seattle.
If you have a chance to watch Thomas Davis’ sack of Brian Hoyer, who flung running back Carlos Hyde beyond Hoyer like a wet kitchen towel, it’s worth a peek. Hoyer isn’t getting much help from his backs, in addition to his offensive line, is what I’m saying.
The news is not all bad for 49ers. Somehow, despite not collecting any sacks, 49ers defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was rated as week one’s top interior defender in pass rush productivity by Pro Football Focus. Pierre Garcon, who is rumored to be playing wide receiver for the 49ers now, somehow managed to lead all receivers in the game with six receptions for 81 yards.
We can scrap the playbooks for this game and just put our hopes on the quarterback that can escape imminent danger the best. The next touchdown scored in Seattle on Sept. 17 will be the first one for either team in 2017. This contest between the two as-yet winless NFC West rivals will answer the question of how well can an offense function when their offensive line is a sieve?
Actually, we don’t need to wait for Sunday. I’ll answer the question: They can’t function. Neither offense could muster a touchdown on Sunday, nor keep their quarterback upright. It doesn’t matter who you have playing wide receiver, tight end or running back if your quarterback can’t deliver the mail. When you have two equally awful offensive lines, the edge goes to the team with the more mobile quarterback (who also happens to be a franchise/elite-level talent): Wilson.
Numbers to forget
8 — the total of receiving yards Jimmy Graham totaled against Green Bay — his fewest ever in a Seahawks uniform.
225 — Seahawks total offensive output in yards at Lambeau Field. Their lowest ever over the past three seasons.
217 — 49ers total offensive output in yards at Levi’s Stadium. Probably about what the 49ers can expect on a regular basis.
3 — total rushing yards (on five attempts) by ex-Packers running back Eddie Lacy. He now plays for the Seahawks, but it was difficult to tell.
-9 — total number of yards the Seahawks “gained” on their first possession of the 2017 NFL season before punting. And punting. And punting. And punting. And punting.
.18 — 49ers conversion rate on third down against the Panthers.
0 — sacks of Cam Newton by 49ers defense.