49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 14, 2008
Postscript: 49ers 33, Seahawks 30

I said I thought the 49ers had a chance against a weakened Seattle squad, but I didn't think it would be an overtime thriller in which the teams combine for 63 points. I was thinking more along the lines of 49ers 20, Seahawks 15. For the second straight game, the defense didn't give up any big plays but also showed a disturbing knack for allowing teams to gobble up yardage one small chunk at a time. And this was a team that was relying on rookie tight end John Carslon and just-off-the-street receiver Billy McMullen for most of the game.

This time the offense -- namely J.T. O'Sullivan -- bailed them out. Despite being sacked eight -- EIGHT! -- times, O'Sullivan nevered wavered, standing steady in the pocket all afternoon and hitting big plays when they were needed. That is the epitome of a Mike Martz quarterback. The quarterback knows he's going to get hit. But he also knows he has an opportunity for big plays.

This is a big win for the 49ers. They needed to show a killer instinct against a wounded Seattle team and they did. If they can show a similar go-for-the-jugular mentality against the Lions next week, I think it will mean that Mike Nolan will survive ... through the bye week at least.

Jonas Jennings left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return. His injury and a knee injury to Dashon Goldson appear to be the most serious. Patrick Willis hurt his leg, went into the locker room for an X-ray but returned to the game. Like he did last year when he broke his hand, Willis pretended he didn't know anything about an injury when questioned about it afterward. Ignorance is bliss as far as he's concerened.

Jennings never returned to the sideline and he wasn't in the locker room after the game. If he's not back next week, Barry Sims -- wasn't he an excellent acquisition? -- will start at right tackle. One more injury -- Shawntae Spencer sprained his knee and was limping badly at the end of the game.

I followed Takeo Spikes closely throughout the game. He didn't start at "Ted" linebacker but came in during the second series and played the rest of the game. He was far, far better than he was last week and even seemed to improve as the game went on. He agreed with that assessment. "Absolutely. I did. A lot of it was just a matter of - the more repetitions you get, the better I know I'll be. It's unfortunate for me that I missed OTAs and a lot of training camp. But I did a lot of studying and I think that helped me out. I think my best plays are yet to come."

I didn't watch Manny Lawson as promised because, well, Lawson didn't play a single defensive snap. That's because the 49ers were in nickel or dime defenses throughout the game. Lawson doesn't play in either of those packages. Lawson sloughed off the situation saying he knew since Wednesday that he wouldn't play. Instead, he volunteered for all the special teams units and had a very good game there, coming away with two tackles and a blocked punt.

Still, Lawson's absence has to be disturbing. The 49ers use their nickel or "sub" defense almost as much as their base package. What does it say when a former first-round draft pick isn't part of a package that is the staple of a team's defense? Either the 49ers don't think Lawson is fully back from his ACL tear or they just don't have a lot of respect for his skills.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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