SEATTLE — The illusion of complexity.
That's how analysts were describing the 49ers' running game going into their matchup with the Seahawks. In other words, the Niners use a lot of motion and various formations in the backfield to make it look like they're busy cooking up something creative. What they cooked up for the Seahawks was from an age-old recipe of NFL days gone by. Ground and pound. They racked up nearly 200 yards rushing and did it all without their starting running back.
More like Suplex City. A destination offered by the WWE and a place no opponent ever wants to go. The 49ers' offense collectively lifted the Seahawks' run defense high over its head and slammed it into the Levi's Stadium mat.
It was no illusion. It happened. And it will happen again until, as Quandre Diggs said after the game, the Seahawks "man up."
With so much talk about improving the Seahawks' rushing attack, there should be equal concern about stopping the run.
Sure, the Hawks' defense had its moments. Al Woods threw ball carriers around like rag dolls at times racking up three tackles for loss. But too many times defenders found themselves in the open field one on one with the runner, who quickly exposed their inability to tackle consistently.
Missed tackles continue to be a problem for the Seahawks, and they're not alone. The NFL prohibits full contact during off-season practices and allows just 14 such practices during the regular season. That's the reality. If you can't "practice" tackling, how do you expect to be any good at it during an actual game, when the action comes at you much faster?
Some say these guys are pros. They should be able to tackle in their sleep.
Like anything else in life, if you stop using your everyday tools, your skills diminish.
I'm not going to break into "life was better when" or "get off my lawn," but sometimes hard-nosed old school beats the softer new school.
But I digress.
The other problem comes from what defensive coaches call "gap integrity." Defenders are responsible to fill the gaps they're assigned to on certain plays. Teammates have to trust each other to do their jobs play after play. The moment a defender decides to ad-lib, the gap opens, leaving a hole for a running back to run through.
It's a new defense under coordinator Clint Hurt and it will take time to develop continuity.
This Seahawks team needs to fast-track that defense any way possible. It's too much to ask this Geno Smith-led offense to trade blows with opposing offenses.
Smith was at the center of the most historical stat of the NFL weekend, brought to light by ESPN's Brady Henderson.
According to Elias stats info dating back to 1932, Geno Smith's 80% completion rate Sunday is the highest in a game in which a quarterback's team didn't score an offensive point.
Again, 80% completion rate, no points.
That is somewhat mind-blowing.
Almost as much as watching DJ Dallas, in a backfield formation of four running backs and no quarterback, trying to complete a pass with a rain-slickened ball while wearing a glove.
Talk about the illusion of complexity.
The jokes were flying in the press box after that one. It felt like a sketch comedy.
But this isn't SNL. It's the NFL. Fans aren't interested in what their team does on Saturday nights as long as that team performs on Sundays.