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Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wrap-up: Seahawks 31, 49ers 6

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

What it means: The NFC West appears more wide open than anticipated. Yes, it's only one game, but this outcome served notice on a few fronts, whereas a convincing San Francisco 49ers victory would have affirmed suspicions. The Seattle Seahawks weren't exactly prolific on offense, particularly early. But the Seahawks appeared better coached and better quarterbacked than the 49ers and that was significant (even though Alex Smith did not play poorly for the most part).

Big Revelation: The Seahawks are not a disaster after overhauling their roster and losing left tackle Russell Okung to an ankle injury. Winning this game was huge for Seattle's confidence in its first game under coach Pete Carroll. It provides needed validation for Carroll's approach and allows players to buy in fully without blind faith. In short, Seattle now appears in position to win a couple more games over the next several weeks -- something I didn't see happening because I thought the 49ers' advantages in talent and continuity would make life difficult for Seattle, shaking the Seahawks' confidence.

Goat: 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree dropped one pass and appeared to run the wrong route on another. Both miscues resulted in interceptions. Meanwhile, Seattle's receivers -- including reclamation project Mike Williams -- exceeded expectations. Tight end Vernon Davis had called out Crabtree during practice and the assumption was that Davis wanted Crabtree to show more urgency in returning from a strained neck. There's plenty of urgency now.

Goat II: That would be me, your NFC West guy. I'll stand up tall and take full responsibility for predicting an 0-6 start for Seattle. The reasoning was defensible, in my view, but the lesson seems clear. The unknown isn't always a bad thing. The Seahawks said they upgraded personnel at most positions and I'd say the evidence supported them at least for one day. Specifically, Carroll had said he hoped the home crowd would help the pass-rush become effective, and that happened in this game. Chris Clemons gave Joe Staley trouble.

Critical Call: The 49ers went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 6 early in the game, and ceded momentum on the road when Smith missed fullback Moran Norris. A pass to the fullback on fourth-and-1? OK, but it had better work. It did not.

What's next: The Seahawks take confidence on the road against a flawed Denver Broncos team. The 49ers are home against the defending Super bowl champion New Orleans Saints on Monday night. It's not a stretch to think Seattle could be 2-0 and the 49ers 0-2 in another eight days. Take that, Sando.