As I watched football on Sunday, I wanted to pick an off-the-cuff impact player of the week. Someone who made an enormous difference for their team, yet still flies under the radar. Initially, that guy was Nick Novak. He went 4 for 4 in field goals and was the difference-maker in helping the San Diego Chargers upset the Eagles in Philly.
As a day of great football came to an end, we saw the NFC East go 0-4 this week while the AFC North went 0-4 last week. Those are important stories as parity unfolds in the NFL.
I not so boldly picked the 49ers as the best team in the NFL this season. As the Seahawks dismantled them on Sunday, it’s clear that Seattle’s defense stole the show. Therefore, my impact player of Week 2 is the entire Seahawks D led by the boisterous Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman.
Colin Kaepernick accounted for 434 yards and three touchdowns last week. It was one of the best performances in 49ers quarterback history. Yes, a history that not only has Steve Young, but Joe Montana. Now there is Kaepernick. The 49ers appeared to be unstoppable against the Packers. However, Seattle’s defense held Kaepernick to less than half of his Week 1 production, zero touchdowns and three interceptions. This was a collective defensive effort.
The stunting defensive line never gave CK a lane to run or an escape route from the pocket. When he did get loose he often ran out of bounds or slid before contact, which appears to be his M.O. when watching him on tape the last two weeks. The defensive line also contained Frank Gore, holding him to 16 yards on 9 carries. Great speed in the linebacking unit allowed one linebacker to spy on Kaepernick at all times.
This means two things. The first is that there would be an added strain on the secondary as there would be no inside support or help on underneath routes. Linebackers like Derrick Brooks made a living picking off underneath routes for the Buccaneers in their Super Bowl season. The good thing is that the secondary was up to the challenge and didn’t need the support as the physical play in the back end matched up and outperformed the 49ers receiving corps.
A disadvantage for most teams with this style of play is a strength and opportunity for the Seahawks. Secondly this allowed the defense to play man-to-man and not worry about Kaepernick as it was the spy linebacker’s duty to prevent any long runs from the double-threat ability CK possesses.
Anquan Boldin, last week’s impact player, was held to one catch for 7 yards. First-year defensive coordinator Dan Quinn installed a perfect game plan which was executed to perfection. Vernon Davis, considered the best tight end in the league, was also a no-show with three receptions for 20 yards.
Happy 62nd birthday to Coach Pete Carroll!
Beast Mode Lynch, the 12th man and your defense