Three and Out: 49ers lost composure, not their 'finest hour'
SEATTLE – The 49ers hoped to use a no-huddle approach to counteract the problems they expected to encounter with the crowd noise.
As it turned out, the 49ers had no answers for anything they faced Sunday night, whether it was the crowd or the fired-up Seattle Seahawks defense.
The 49ers committed five turnovers, committed 12 penalties and were steamrolled 29-3 in an NFC West showdown that featured two squads regarded among the best in the NFL.
“I’m certainly not proud of the way that we played tonight or coached,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It was not our finest hour.”
The loss was not quite as bad as the 49ers’ 42-13 defeat in Seattle a year ago – the worst defeat of Harbaugh’s tenure with the 49ers. But, in many ways, it was worse because the 49ers were looking to avenge that performance.
The 49ers completely lost their composure during a second-half meltdown. Aldon Smith and Anthony Davis were called for unnecessary-roughness penalties, while Vance McDonald was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"We definitely made things harder on ourselves, yes," Harbaugh said when asked if he felt the 49ers lost their composure.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 412 yards in a season-opening victory over the Green Bay Packers, had a miserable day. He committed four turnovers, including a career-worst three interceptions. Kaepernick completed just 13 of 28 pass attempts for 127 yards
“I don’t think it was anything they did,” Kaepernick said. “We didn’t come out and perform. We didn’t make plays like we normally do.
“We are not going to win games if I play like that.”
The problems started early when the 49ers failed to cash in on Craig Dahl’s blocked punt. Kaepernick threw an interception on a third-down pass for tight end Vernon Davis in the end zone. Cornerback Walter Thurmond got his hands on the pass, and safety Earl Thomas picked off the deflection.
“We had gone over it during the week and we thought it was something that we thought we might have,” Kaepernick said. “One of the defenders came off and made a play on the ball and it got deflected into the air.”
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman clearly won his matchup against 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught 208 yards in passes in the opener. Boldin and Sherman caught the same number of Kaepernick passes. Boldin had one reception for 7 yards, while Sherman had an interception – in coverage against tight Vernon Davis -- and returned it 28 yards.
“It was nothing they did,” Boldin said. “It was us not executing, point blank.”
That was a constant theme in the 49ers’ locker room. The 49ers managed just 207 yards of total offense, and they committed 12 penalties totaling 121 yards. The Seahawks’ first points of the game came when fullback Bruce Miller was called for holding in the end zone on a Kaepernick pass attempt.
“Everything was self-inflicted,” Miller said. “Turnovers, the safety, not-smart penalties. That’s kind of what happened last year. We had a blocked kick for a touchdown. I think these were all self-inflicted wounds. They played good on defense. We just have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Kaepernick said he felt comfortable with the team's no-huddle approach to open the game. But the 49ers were not able to set the tone they had hoped would silence one of the loudest crowds in the NFL.
"I think we moved the ball well when we were in it, but once again we had drives that stalled," Kaepernick said.
Running back Frank Gore was held to just 16 yards on nine rushing attempts, as the Seahawks beat the 49ers in every imaginable way.
“It wasn’t good enough,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think we put our players in a position to be successful. We certainly didn’t make enough plays to be successful.”