Perhaps it should have been expected that if Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was going to endure an ugly performance early in his first season, it would be on the road against San Francisco's stellar defense.
What wasn't expected in Seattle's 13-6 loss to the 49ers on Thursday night was a number of dropped passes, some at critical moments, and a Seahawks defense that was gashed on the ground for the first time this year by the running of Frank Gore.
But it was another unimpressive offensive effort and some frustration began to show.
"We are going to come back Monday and watch this film, and we are going to be real critical," Seattle wide receiver Golden Tate said. "We have to figure something out. It is not over, the season is not over. We still have a long way to go. We can't let this set us back."
Wilson finished just 9 of 23 passing for 122 yards and one careless interception. He completed just 3 of 10 in the second half for 19 yards.
Sometimes when Wilson made a good throw, his receivers didn't make the catch. They finished with five drops.
There was backup running back Robert Turbin dropping a wheel route in the first quarter inside the 49ers' 15. Evan Moore juggled and dropped a throw down the sideline in the second quarter and Tate dropped a pair of passes, including a third-and-2 pass that would have given Seattle a key first-down on the opening drive of the second half.
"That's my focus now, just how can we fix it, how can we keep moving forward, how can we get some more completions when we need it," Wilson said. "How can we keep the ball rolling, keep first downs going."
Seattle coach Pete Carroll gave his team the weekend off after a trying stretch of five games in 25 days, three of them on the road. Seattle (4-3) returns to action on Oct. 28 at Detroit then plays consecutive home games against Minnesota and the New York Jets before arriving at its bye week.
While improving an offense that is averaging just 16 points per game will be a priority when the team returns next Monday, another will be making sure the Seahawks run defense is fixed.
San Francisco had just 58 yards rushing at halftime — and 54 of that came in the first quarter. They finished with 175 yards rushing. San Francisco's 117 yards rushing in the final 30 minutes marked the first time Seattle allowed a team to run for more than 100 yards in the second half since Dec. 26, 2010, in a loss at Tampa Bay.
Seattle's run defense allowed an opponent to top 100 total yards rushing for the first time this season. Gore's 131 yards were the most by an individual rusher against the Seahawks since Dallas' DeMarco Murray ran for 139 yards in Week 9 of last season, a span of 14 games.
Most of San Francisco's running success came in the second half and on quick-hitting inside traps where Seattle's defensive line was unable to clog gaps and give its linebackers freedom to make tackles.
The Seahawks had not allowed a run longer than 23 yards all season until Gore's 37-yard dash in the third quarter. Safety Earl Thomas saved a touchdown by making a shoestring tackle on that play. Gore also had bursts of 20 and 18 yards against a defense that had allowed just two runs of 20 or more yards all season entering Thursday night.
The fact Seattle held San Francisco to just 13 points and still felt the night was a defensive disappointment exemplifies the standard to which Carroll holds the Seahawks.
"It was a heck of a night by our defense, but I'm still frustrated that we didn't stop a couple of things. If we stop a couple of things, the game doesn't go like that. Now, it still was going to be close because we didn't score much, but we need to play better in the running game," Carroll said.
Gore has long tormented the Seahawks; he now has four games of at least 130 yards rushing against Seattle. And his numbers could have been even higher if not for bruised ribs that sidelined him for much of the fourth quarter.
"They attacked us where we didn't think they were going to attack us. They were able to sustain drives and controlled the clock a bit. It was disappointing because we didn't stop the run like we wanted to," Seattle linebacker Leroy Hill said. "But there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Holding them to 13 points is nothing to be embarrassed about. It was a hard-fought game. It was how we thought it was going to be. But in the run game, we could've been better."
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