What the Seahawks saw as a fake TD punt

How did the Seahawks have the courage to call a false punt from their own 27-yard line in the first possession of their 30-23 win over the 49ers on Sunday?

It’s fair to say that the 49ers’ inviting roster made their decision a lot less nerve-racking.

The 49ers teamed up with the two outside shooters, which left six players on the line of scrimmage, split evenly on the left and right sides, and no one was behind them except returner Brandon Aiyuk. Meanwhile, the Seahawks had seven players on the line of scrimmage, including four on the overloaded left side.

The straight shot went to Travis Homer, who was left-lined, and he didn’t come close to being hit on his 73-yard touchdown run due to a comedic shift that created clear navigation. Running back DeeJay Dallas and linebacker Jon Rhattigan (450 pounds overall) teamed up on a block to clear 5-foot-8, 205-pound third fullback JaMycal Hasty, who was lined up at right defensive end.

Some believed that the winning Seahawks, who came in 3-8, decided to open with special team shenanigans heading into the game. But the fake was called to the line by Homer, who alerted his teammates once he saw how the 49ers were lined up.

“I thought the look was there,” said Seattle linebacker Nick Bellore, who blocked Aiyuk down. “Then we might as well execute it.” “

Still, it wasn’t a complete shock to the Seahawks when Homer made the call – they’d seen the 49ers roster during their pre-game preparation.

“These are the guys who grabbed an opportunity for us in the study during the week,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll. “… Before the weekend, if we get a chance, a little bit anywhere, if it was legit and we really saw it clean, then (we decided) let’s go. “

Other observations of a loss that brought the 49ers down to 6-6 and ended their three-game winning streak:

• The false punt was part of a 49ers special teams performance that was unacceptably poor. But the ripple effect of injuries played a role.

For example, wide Travis Benjamin, who missed the kickoff in the second half, replaced Trenton Cannon, who suffered a concussion on the first game of the game. And the 49ers’ strong attrition to linebacker meant special teams baseman Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles played a season-high 51 defensive snaps and just eight special teams snaps, a season low.

Some of those snaps were filled in by new linebacker Justin March, 28, who was signed to the practice squad on Wednesday and moved to the active roster on Saturday. How did he perform on his 15 special teams snaps? The most notable game of March was the one he appeared to stop on instead of blocking tough Bellore on the second half kick-off. The result: Bellore pierced Benjamin and forced the fumble that the Seahawks recovered.

The 49ers were released in March on Monday.

• It immediately appeared that running back Elijah Mitchell had suffered a concussion when defensive end Darrell Taylor was hit in the helmet by the elbow at the end of a point at the end of the third quarter. Mitchell fell to the ground, let go of the ball, and stood momentarily still with his hands on his chest. Tight end George Kittle and left tackle Trent Williams both looked at Mitchell and started waving to him for medical assistance.

However, Mitchell returned to the game in the next series, made four runs in the fourth quarter and was not entered into the concussion protocol until Monday when he reported symptoms. Mitchell returned to the game because he was allowed to return after being assessed for a concussion by an independent doctor, under NFL rules.

The system isn’t foolproof: The week before, linebacker Marcell Harris was also shut out during the game, reported symptoms the next day, and stayed in protocol for the entire week, missing the Seattle game.

It is obviously not the job of coaches to determine if a player can return to the game, especially when it comes to an injury that can be as nebulous as a concussion. But it’s worth noting that the Chargers took a cautious approach on Sunday when Pro Bowl passer Joey Bosa was cleared after being assessed for a concussion in the first quarter of their win over the Bengals. Bosa suffered two concussions in 2020.

“It was our decision to hold him back,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley told reporters. “With his story, we just wanted to make sure. As long as I am the head coach here, we will make such decisions in the best interests of our players.

• The first game of the scrimmage game: Linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair immediately recognized a screen and tackled freight train receiver DK Metcalf into the open field. No easy task. Loss of one meter. Game 2 of the game: Al-Shaair took a sticky blanket on spreader Freddie Swain and dropped him after a 4-yard catch.

This presaged a formidable performance by Al-Shaair, who took All-Pro’s place Fred Warner and made 16 tackles, a huge forced fumble in the fourth quarter over the goal line and an almost completely strained interception that resulted in was deemed unfinished during proofreading. Al-Shaair’s 16 tackles in total are the closest to a 49er since linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite both had 16 in a loss to the Giants on Oct. 11, 2015.

• Heard a familiar voice behind me in the post-game elevator from the press box to the visitors’ interview room: Kevin Harlan, the CBS game man, discussing the big game that ‘he had been able to call.

Harlan’s energy is contagious on television. And his vocabulary? Marvellous. With Harlan, Mitchell was “squeezing” into the end zone, and Kittle was “corkscrewing” to a first down and the pile-up for a fumble was a “hootenananny over there at the 25-yard line. “.

Here’s a very excited Harlan after 49ers rusher Nick Bosa pierced QB Russell Wilson in the middle of the pitch and forced a fumble: “Oh, Bosa came in like a steamroller from the rim, hit that ball and made a very treacherous pocket! “

Eric Branch covers the 49ers for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Eric_Branch