The 49ers are hard to stop on offense right now.
Not knowing who you have to stop on a given night certainly helps.
The 49ers used their customary versatile attack to beat the Seahawks 26-21, and claim the NFC West title and the top seed in the NFC playoffs in the process.
They continued to spread it around like they have so often this year, with rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel taking the star turn this week.
Samuel finished with 135 yards from scrimmage, with his 30-yard touchdown run one of the early highlights. He also caught five passes for 102 yards.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has spread the ball around all season, but their varied running game (six different players had carries), and use of fullbacks and tight ends makes them such an interesting modern offense, with an old-school feel.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. It’s probably appropriate that the Seahawks are playing the Eagles in the wild card round next weekend.
Because both teams are out of dudes.
The injuries that have hit the Seahawks offense are ridiculous, as they’re missing their first three options at running back (Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise), and played Sunday without left tackle Duane Brown and tight end Luke Willson. Throw in tight ends Will Dissly and Ed Dickson on IR, along with center Justin Britt, and the suspension of Josh Gordon, and it’s amazing they can move the ball at all.
Oh, and wide receiver Jaron Brown left Sunday’s game with a knee injury and was immediately ruled out.
In any other circumstance, you’d count them out.
But they still have that Russell Wilson guy at quarterback, who nearly pulled this out at the end, and they’re playing team with as many Plan G options on offense themselves.
2. Speaking of offense, Marshawn Lynch had a quiet start, but eventually came to look a little like his old self.
That makes sense, since he hadn’t played football in 14 months.
He finished the game with 12 carries for 34 yards, and seemed to spend as much time in the first half as a decoy as anything else. Getting stuffed on fourth-and-inches was a sign that perhaps there might not be a storybook ending, at least this week.
He hasn’t been around long enough to be functional in the passing game (he wasn’t targeted), but they’ll probably try to incorporate him in some way so they’re not as predictable in the playoffs.
He popped a 15-yard run in the third quarter, and his leap for a touchdown in the fourth quarter made it feel like 2013 again. Or 2014, except for that one thing.
The chaotic delay of game penalty late robbed us all of a chance to relive that play, as Lynch was headed in. It’s OK to feel cheated.
3. The Seahawks injuries obviously aren’t limited to offense.
When linebacker Mychal Kendricks left the game, it underscored how thin of a margin they have there as well.
There was an obvious difference in the defense without safety Quandre Diggs, who played well since coming over from Detroit in a midseason trade. He was inactive because of an ankle injury, and if he doesn’t return, they could struggle against teams that actually have healthy players.
4. As well as the 49ers have played on defense this year, there’s a chance they’ll get better.
If pass-rusher Dee Ford can return for the playoffs, he adds a speed element to a defense that can muscle opponents out of their game plan.
Ford has played just one game since Week 11 because of hamstring problems, but there’s some hope he’ll be back.
Having the bye week only helps with some needed time to rest everyone.
5. The 49ers are impressive in so many ways.
But coach Kyle Shanahan’s hat is ridiculous.
Wearing a bad hat is worse than having no hat on at all.