The Seahawks once again were able to dominate their division foe at home Sunday night. In watching this, we also witnessed something more glaring: an absolute shutdown of Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks repeatedly forced Kaepernick to stay in the pocket and pressured him from the right side. Looking at his passing chart (see below), we can see that the majority of Kaepernick’s throws went to the short left side of the field.
As we will show later, Seattle was extremely effective at “cupping” Kaepernick inside the pocket and forcing him to his left.
The Seahawks were extremely effective in shutting down nearly everything the 49ers were trying to do offensively. However, don’t be surprised to see every 49er opponent in the NFL attempt this formula:
Right Side Attack
On almost every third down (or obvious passing down), the Seahawks continually attacked the right side of San Francisco’s offensive line. Above you will see the pre-snap alignment and the effect Seattle’s stunt-blitz had on the pocket.
In forcing a “cup” to the right of Kaepernick, he is forced to either step up, or step to the left of the pocket to throw. On this play, Kaepernick was able to effectively step forward in the pocket and run for a first down. But as you will see later in the drive, Kaepernick was not as fortunate (see below).
On third and goal, the Seahawks again “cupped” Kaepernick on the right, daring him to run for the TD, when Kaepernick forced his throw towards the end zone at Vernon Davis. Walter Thurmond was able to effectively drive on the ball and tip it into the air, forcing an interception.
Later in the second quarter, the 49ers were forced to start their offense out of their own end zone. On second and long, Kaepernick dropped back and threw the ball (guess where?) to Frank Gore on the short left. During the play, however, there was a holding penalty in the endzone, resulting in a safety.
Throughout the game, we repeatedly saw the Seahawks effectively force Kaepernick to deliver from the pocket, even with three-man defensive fronts! Kaepernick did have plenty of opportunities to simply tuck the ball and run, but the Seahawks did an excellent job of getting the 49ers into second or third and long situations.
Of course, not every defense in the league is as equipped as Seattle, but don’t be surprised to see every 49ers opponent look to copy what the Seahawks did Sunday night.