SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It’s tempting to make an enormous deal about the Seahawks win over the San Francisco 49ers, because it always used to be a big thing.
But the lifeless, listless and largely devoid of talent 49ers that came out Thursday night was not one of those teams.
The way things have been going for the Seahawks, though, they’re not going to quibble much about the 20-3 win over their erstwhile rival.
Secondary to the question of how the 49ers so quickly turned into Jacksonville is the reality that the Seahawks crawled over the Niners out of the NFC West basement and stay somewhat relevant in the conference.
At the minimum, this was a game between a pair of 2-4 disappointments, and the Seahawks found the defibrillator first. Maybe that’s all they needed.
The Seahawks have had a season filled with Red Zone rejections, third-down duds, fourth-quarter failures, inexplicable miscommunications and distracting traffic infractions.
So when they forged an early lead and held on through the fourth quarter, it had to feel like … what?
“… a normal Seahawks night tonight,” coach Pete Carroll said.
Well, in some ways, it was very much like the “old normal,” shutting down an opposing offense with a dominant defense, and running the ball with power and consistency on offense.
But in a few ways, it also felt like the “new normal.” The pass protection was sketchy and quarterback Russell Wilson made a couple bad decisions with passes, which meant the Seahawks left a number of points unclaimed.
This could have been much more impressive. And it seems as if we need to see more from the Seahawks against better opponents before believing a full revival is under way.
But after two consecutive losses in which they squandered late leads, this one felt like the good old days.
“It was great to finish,” said defensive end Cliff Avril, who helped pressure Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick (six sacks). “It showed in the second half that we can play with the best of them as long as we keep playing the whole game.”
San Francisco is not among “the best of them.”
Not by a longshot.
Kaepernick, once a formidable foe, is now a scattershooting shell of himself. At times, he looked wild as the fictional Nuke LaLoosh, nailing innocent bystanders on the sidelines with errant passes.
Most important to the Hawks was the return of a dominant Marshawn Lynch, who powered for 122 yards on 27 rushes.
Lynch missed a series early in the game when it looked as if he was, once again, victim of a queasy stomach. It’s not unusual for him to get a nervous tummy and toss his Skittles.
It was a feeling to which many Niners fans could relate, as they fell to 2-5 and surely will be near the bottom of the rankings of nearly every stat the NFL keeps.
The Niners being unimpressive was not enough to alter the fact that the Seahawks desperately needed to fix some problems and simply claim a win.
“It’s a great confidence booster,” linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “We went out there and punched them in the mouth in the first quarter, and we stayed after them. It’s great to get back on track and knowing we can be the team we thought we were. We didn’t finish the last couple weeks but we did a great job of keeping our foot on the gas the whole game.”
Although the rushing game picked up 176 yards, Wilson was sacked six times as the protection was inconsistent.
“We need to protect the quarterback better, and there’s plenty of other things we need to clean up across the board,” tackle Russell Okung said. “But it was still great to win in this fashion because we were up most of the game and we finished it up by running it on them and controlling it at the end. That’s our type of ball.”
It used to be. Maybe it can be again if they can keep this up.