He’s a two-time All-Pro. He’s been selected to the Pro Bowl three times. He’s won a Super Bowl and led a historically stingy defense.
But is this Bobby Wagner’s best season yet?
Sure looked like it again on Sunday.
The exquisite middle linebacker made the play his Seahawks needed to get going against woeful San Francisco, a steal of an interception he made ripping the ball from Trent Taylor while rolling over the 49ers wide receiver’s back.
“That was awesome,” Seahawks defensive tackle Paul Richardson said. “Easily a top-five interception. Of all time. Of ALL time.
“The dude caught it, and he came in and took it from him. I thought it was a fumble, at first. I looked up and said, ‘That’s an interception.’
“Pretty cool. Pretty dope.”
The Seahawks scored the game’s first points on Russell Wilson’s touchdown run two plays later. Blitzing some but also dropping into coverage a lot to help a decimated secondary and leave the pass rush to four defensive linemen, Wagner also had a game-high eight tackles, two for lost yardage. He added two quarterbacks hits and a pass defensed in the 24-13 win over the 49ers that wasn’t that close.
Just think if he had practiced leading up to the game. He missed workouts all week to rest a sore hamstring.
“It is pretty hard. You have to make sure you focus,” Wagner said. “You have to watch all the film. (But) when you have been doing it for a minute you get the handle of it.
“I played well and I didn’t practice. So you may want to tell Pete that.”
“Pete” was in a mood to give Wagner more days off.
“He’s an incredible player,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He did not practice this week. He was able to only workout with trainers. And to be able to come through like that and have another big game, a significant game, a play of the game for the defense, it’s just the way he’s been doing it.”
Carroll said he thinks Wagner is having a season “as good as a defensive player can have.”
The interception was the eighth of his six-year career — and second in two games this season against the 49ers. He also has a sack for a safety earlier this month against San Francisco. His 100 tackles after 11 games leave him third in the NFL, 10 behind Washington’s Zach Brown. Wagner is on pace to have 145 tackles this regular season. That would be the second-most of his career behind the team-record 167 he had last season.
“Pretty damn good season,” Richardson said.
He dominated much of Sunday’s game up front and consistently wrecked 49ers plays. Yet he was raving about Wagner. He had company.
“The guy’s relentless, man,” Richardson said. “I feel like that’s the only reason why MY stats ain’t higher, because of him. But it’s all great fun. Friendly competition, nothing wrong with that.
“We set the bar high.”
LACY SHOWS A SPARK
Carroll said Sunday was “the first time we’ve had a chance to feel Eddie” Lacy.
Seattle’s 250-pound running back started because of Mike Davis’ strained groin; the former 49ers running back did not get to play against his old team.
Lacy gained 46 yards on 17 carries, six yards below his season high.
“He ran hard. He ran tough,” Carroll said. “I liked it.”
Still, Seattle’s sickly running game isn’t cured. It got just 90 yards on 30 carries against the NFL’s 31st-ranked rushing defense. That was 65 yards on 23 carries taking away five scrambles and two called runs by quarterback Russell Wilson.
Thomas Rawls played just one play and didn’t touch the ball six days after being a healthy inactive against Atlanta. Rawls has been a healthy inactive for two games and played just one snap without getting the ball in two other games this season. So the Seahawks have obviously moved past him.
BENNETT, 8 OTHERS SIT DURING ANTHEM
Michael Bennett again sat during the national anthem, after standing for the last two games when Seattle and Arizona hosted “Salute to Service” nights. Eight of Bennett’s teammates joined him in sitting Sunday. Left tackle Duane Brown and defensive end Branden Jackson kneeled beside them in front of the bench on the Seahawks’ sideline.
“The last couple weeks we wanted to honor the military, so that was really good,” Bennett said.
Then he pulled out of his shaving kit at his locker a unit coin from the U.S. Army's 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He said he got that on the field following Sunday’s game from a veteran of the Vietnam War.
“He was telling me about half his battalion (becoming) POWs and missing in action,” Bennett said. “This is an honor for me.”
On the opposite sideline during the anthem, 49ers players Eric Reid, Eli Harold and Marquise Goodwin kneeled.
WALSH MISSES AGAIN
The Seahawks’ 7-3 lead at the half would have been larger, but Blair Walsh missed his fifth field goal in the past four games.
His 48-yard try at the end of the opening drive was a weird line drive that slid wide left of the upright.
Walsh began his Seattle debut season 12 for 13 on field goals through seven games. He was 17 for 23 after that miss, then made one in the second half.
LANE PLAYS BANGED UP
Jeremy Lane was active and started at cornerback, after all.
Yet the Seahawks lost another defensive player to injury. Of course they did.
They had added Lane to the injury list as questionable Saturday with a knee injury. But Lane started at left corner for the second straight game since Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon.
The 49ers really only challenged Lane deep one time, in the first half. C.J. Beathard’s pass fell 15 yard past his receiver, Marquise Goodwin, after Goodwin and Lane got legs tangled in the middle of the field.
Byron Maxwell was at right cornerback replacing rookie Shaquill Griffin. Griffin was out after getting a concussion six days earlier in the home loss to Atlanta.
Griffin and Kam Chancellor were on the field in team sweats during early pregame drills. Griffin jogged in the end zone while Chancellor stretched and talked to teammates.
Carroll said Friday Chancellor’s status related to his neck-stinger issue would gain “clarity” soon.
Defensive end Dion Jordan was out Sunday, further thinning the weakened defense. His emergence since debuting this month was part of the reason the Seahawks released future Hall-of-Fame pass rusher Dwight Freeney this past week.
The Seahawks promoted rookie wide receiver David Moore off the practice squad to take Freeney’s place on the roster, and to save a little more than $200,000. But Moore was inactive for his first NFL game.
Right guard Oday Aboushi’s shoulder injury meant rookie Ethan Pocic started at right guard. Pocic had been the left guard for the five games Luke Joeckel missed following his knee surgery last month. Joeckel returned Sunday and started at left tackle.
EXTRA POINTS: Before his touchdown catch on the first play of the fourth quarter, TE Jimmy Graham looked disinterested in catching a pass from Wilson on an in route on third and 6 in the second quarter. It went off his hands, and the Seahawks punted. … No. 2 tight end Luke Willson left the game in the first quarter with a concussion and did not return. Carroll said Willson was “lucid” but in the league’s concussion protocol. ... Jon Ryan had a 74-yard punt with a great bounce late in the second quarter. It came on his 36th birthday. His career long was at San Francisco on Sept. 11, 2011, 77 yards.