No idea how that deep ball succeeded. The 49ers had to like their chances on the Seahawks' second offensive play. Their Pro Bowl defensive end, Justin Smith, beat left guard Robert Gallery to the inside and was bearing down on quarterback Tarvaris Jackson right away. The 49ers had two about-to-be-minted Pro Bowlers, cornerback Carlos Rogers and free safety Dashon Goldson, shadowing an undrafted rookie receiver making his regular-season NFL debut. There is simply no way Jackson-to-Lockette should beat three Pro Bowlers for a 44-yard gain. Jackson gets credit for hanging tough and delivering the ball just as Smith was about to blast him. Lockette gets credit for catching a ball Rogers contested well. This was exactly the type of play Seattle needed early against a tough defense.
Leroy Hill's knee packs a punch. Hill was pursuing Frank Gore when his right knee inadvertently struck the left side of tight end Delanie Walker's helmet while Walker sat on the turf after missing a block on linebacker K.J. Wright. Fox microphones captured the grotesque sound of a collision that left Walker with a broken jaw. The impact launched Walker's helmet four yards downfield.
Weak excuse for busted goal-line play. Jackson wound up scrambling for no gain on third-and-goal from the 1 with 1:41 left in the first half. Coach Pete Carroll said some Seattle players thought the play was dead because left tackle Paul McQuistan jumped early. There was no penalty, however, and the Seahawks appeared confused after the snap. Fullback Michael Robinson hardly moved. Jackson slowed and decided against handing off to Marshawn Lynch. McQuistan had barely moved a half-tick before the snap. This was not a blatant false start. The Seahawks should be coached to play through a whistle in that situation. Settling for a field goal in a game the team lost by two points wound up being the difference in the game. This wasn't the first time Seattle botched a critical red zone possession right before halftime.
Anthony Hargrove was lucky to avoid injury. The 49ers' Kendall Hunter broke into the secondary on a third-and-1 run from a shotgun formation right before halftime. Hargrove, the Seahawks' defensive tackle, had a chance to make the tackle at the line of scrimmage, but 49ers right tackle Anthony Davis chopped him down at the legs from behind. The block forced Hargove's body into a contorted position. He appeared vulnerable to injury on the play. Hunter broke out for a 24-yard gain. This game was packed with physical confrontations that threatened to violate rules or obliterated them entirely, which leads to the next item.
The penalty that was not called. Seahawks right tackle Breno Giacomini gets on opponents' nerves with his trash talk and aggressiveness, both at practice and in games. Against Washington in Week 12, Giacomini drew a roughness penalty when he threw himself into a pile after the play. Against the 49ers, officials flagged Giacomini for illegal use of the hands. Later in the game, however, Giacomini was on the receiving end of a blatant blow to the face that drew no penalty. He and 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks were tangling during and after the play. Both players and Brooks in particular appeared to have their hands on or near the opponent's facemask. Giacomini delivered one last shove as the play was ending. Brooks retaliated by swinging the palm of his right hand into Giacomini's face, driving back Giacomini's head violently. A penalty in that situation would have moved Seattle to the 49ers' 37-yard line with 1:25 remaining. The team would have run the ball to set up a field goal. Instead, Jackson scrambled and the 49ers forced him to fumble.
The "five observations" files are back following a one-week holiday. I was out of town following Week 15 and did not produce them for those games.