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3 lessons learned from Seahawks’ win against 49ers

Following another heartbreaking loss against the Arizona Cardinals on “Sunday Night Football,” the Seattle Seahawks faced a must-win game at home against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 11.

Seattle took care of business in a dominating 29-13 victory over its division rivals. While the 49ers have been severely depleted over the past year, the Sehawks did exactly what they were supposed to do on both sides of the ball against a less talented team.

The Seahawks’ two most well-played games of the season have come against San Francsico. Seattle is right back in it at 5-5, but a few tough challenges lie ahead.

There are a number of positives for the Seahawks to take from Week 11, including outstanding performances by a pair of rookies.

Thomas Rawls looks like the future at running back

After being limited over the past four games, Rawls was given the last-minute start over an injured Marshawn Lynch and turned in a better outing that anyone could have imagined.

Rawls ran the ball 30 times for an incredible 209 yards and a touchdown, adding another 46 yards and a score as a receiver. With physicality, stamina and an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, Rawls fits in perfectly with the Seahawks’ offense and should have a role in Seattle for a long time.

Lynch is now set to be checked for a sports hernia that may require season-ending surgery, so Rawls could see some more time as the feature back. With three great games in his rookie season now, Rawls looks like he could be the future at running back in Seattle. Rawls’ breakout finally gives the Seahawks a contingency plan at the position and a lot more options for next year and beyond.

One major factor in Rawls’ performance was the offensive line, which turned in easily its best performance in run blocking of the season. Some better defenses will challenge the unit, but the Seahawks could easily get their season turned around if the line was able to play at least respectably over the rest of the year.

Russell Wilson was at his best

With the Seahawks dominating the game for nearly the duration and Rawls’ monster numbers, Wilson’s performance will go somewhat unnoticed. Still, Wilson turned in his best game of the year, a refreshing sign after struggling at times this season.

Wilson completed 24 of 29 passes on Sunday to set a new career best with an 82.8 completion percentage. He totaled 260 yards, his second-highest mark of the season, along with three touchdowns.

Two of those touchdowns were to rookie Tyler Lockett, who is still a dangerous weapon on offense despite most of his value coming from special teams so far. Wilson also added in some read option with good success, adding another wrinkle to what has been a flat offense.

If Wilson and Lockett can play that well the rest of the year, the Seahawks may finally be able to turn their offense around and challenge for a wild card.

The pass defense needs to get much better by next week

Seattle largely dominated the game defensively, particularly with pass rush and completely shutting down the run. Still, San Francisco was able to move the ball through the air for three straight drives in the third quarter as Seattle played some very soft coverage.

San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert actually finished the game with a career-best quarterback rating of 98.2. It was more of the same for the Seattle secondary, including miscommunications and an inability to cover the tight end on seam routes.

That has to change if Seattle is going to make the playoffs, starting next week with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Antonio Brown and company will shred the Seattle defense if it plays at the same level as the last two weeks.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.
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