Harbaugh/West also had the Niners facing fourth-and-1 on the Seattle 41. They tried to draw the home team offside, then took a penalty and punted. Why not just run a play for the first down?
San Francisco played terrific defense against Seattle in the first half, stuffing several short-yardage runs; on the game, the Niners sacked Russell Wilson four times: the visitors surprised the hosts with zone blitzes. But it was as if everyone on the San Francisco defense thought they'd heard the whistle on Wilson's 51-yard completion to Doug Baldwin. Wilson had 7 seconds in the pocket, a long time in NFL terms, as numerous Niners defenders just stood around looking at each other.
On the Seattle side of the ball, San Francisco was held to 17 points with a total of just three blitzes. Last week, TMQ wrote that the Seahawks play old-fashioned vanilla defense and rarely blitz, despite a reputation for Carroll being blitz-happy. Three blitzes in a title game; conventional four-man rush; Super Bowl invitation.
Down 10-3 with seconds remaining before halftime, Seattle faced fourth-and-6 on the San Francisco 38. Carroll went for it, disdaining a 55-yard field goal attempt on a day that was cold and humid, both bad for long-distance kick flight. The attempt failed, but the result of the play was San Francisco ball on its 38. (The spot moved back following a dead-ball penalty walkoff.) Had Seattle missed a field goal on the same down, it would have been San Francisco ball on the 45. Because the half was nearly over, going for the first down was less risky than attempting the long field goal.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Seattle faced fourth-and-7 on the San Francisco 35, a nearly identical situation. Still an improbable field goal through cold, humid air. The Bluish Men Group lined up trips right. At the snap, all three trips guys ran go routes; Lynch ran a flare left; six blocked. Wilson looked toward Lynch, drawing the safeties' eyes that way, then threw into the end zone for a touchdown to little-used Jermaine Kearse. San Francisco seemed to expect a short possession throw. Instead on a big play, the ball goes to a guy who rarely sees the ball, which is a time-tested football success tactic.
Later leading 20-17 in the fourth quarter, Seattle failed on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with a simplistic no-misdirection play that looked an awful lot like the fourth-and-2 play for the national championship that failed for USC when Carroll was coaching against Texas. Denver has the NFL's prettiest goal-line plays. Seattle needs to work on goal-line designs for the Super Bowl, because settling for field goals won't git 'er done against the highest-scoring team ever.
Huge Players Not Big Enough: Reader Matt Loughman of Suwanee, Ga., notes this Kansas City Star story saying Eric Fisher, the first choice of the 2013 draft, needs to "get bigger and stronger." Loughman asks, "Fisher is 6-8, 305 pounds, that's not big enough?" At the combine, Fisher did 27 reps of 225 pounds. That's not strong enough?
In a supersized society, the notion that huge, muscular football players aren't huge and muscular enough is not an outlier. During the preseason, a Packers analyst scoffed at Green Bay linemen as "soft and small." The Pack's expected line starters in preseason averaged 6-foot-4, 317 pounds.