Blocking out opener part of to-do list for both teams
Fans who enjoy watching quarterbacks run for their lives have a must-see game Sunday: 49ers at Seahawks.
Both teams ranked among the NFL’s top six in sacks surrendered last year and last week’s season openers suggested not much will change in 2017.
The 49ers allowed four sacks and eight quarterback hits in a 23-3 loss to the Panthers.
“It was definitely not what we wanted or expected,” left tackle Joe Staley said.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks allowed three sacks and seven hits in a 17-9 loss at Green Bay — numbers that would have been far larger if not for quarterback Russell Wilson’s elusiveness.
“We’re growing,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “We didn’t start as well as we wanted to. We did pretty well in the preseason, and didn’t have a good opener like we had planned.”
For his part, Fox analyst and former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, who will broadcast Sunday’s game, studied the 49ers’ and Seahawks’ Week 1 performances in the offensive trenches. The 11-year veteran’s assessment? Not good.
“Some of the things that happened in the games — some of the sets and techniques that were taken were just wrong based on fundamental football offensive-line IQ,” Diehl said. “Things that you’re taught when you’re playing O-line early in your life.”
The 49ers could make a change in their starting lineup before facing a vaunted defensive line. Last month, the Seahawks traded for tackle Sheldon Richardson, who joined fellow Pro Bowlers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril along Seattle’s front four.
The 49ers traded for Detroit’s Laken Tomlinson, 25, on Aug. 31 with an eye on him replacing left guard Zane Beadles. Last week, Beadles allowed a sack that resulted in a lost fumble and he also surrendered up-the-middle pressure that led directly to another sack.
Still, Diehl recommends sticking with Beadles, 30, for another week at least, partly because Tomlinson just arrived. Beadles is an eight-year veteran who has started 97 straight games, although Diehl acknowledges his last start was forgettable.
“Granted, it was ugly, but you still have to give the veteran the benefit of the doubt,” Diehl said. “Trying to put Laken Tomlinson in this game, in Seattle, when he’s learning a new offense and expecting him to play fast? I do not see that happening.”
The Seahawks’ offensive line was dealt a major blow when left tackle George Fant tore an ACL in the preseason. He’s been replaced by Rees Odhiambo, 24, a 2016 third-round pick who made his first start last week. Left guard Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 pick in 2013, was signed in the offseason after failing to meet expectations in his first four seasons in Jacksonville.
“We’re going to be fine,” Carroll said. “It’s going to take us some time as always. It always takes some time to get it together when it’s a little bit new.”
Seattle’s leaky front provides an opportunity for the 49ers to rebound from last week’s zerosack performance. General manager John Lynch has consistently termed the defensive line a strength, which it should be given the draft capital devoted to the position. However, a group that includes first-round picks DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas managed just two hits on Carolina’s Cam Newton.
“If there’s a matchup where they can get some pressure,” Diehl said, “it’s this one.”
Given the opponent, and the ear-splitting setting, plenty of pressure will be on the 49ers’ offensive line. Last week, the 49ers had three false-start penalties, including two on offensive linemen, at Levi’s Stadium. At CenturyLink Field, opponents have had an NFL-high 155 falsestart penalties since 2005.
Staley laughed as he recalled his first game in Seattle as a rookie in 2007.
“No one really told me going in that it was a loud stadium,” Staley said. “I just thought it was a typical road game. I just remember being in my own mind ‘Oh, f—. This is the NFL? … I can’t even think.’”