Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/19/12
The San Francisco 49ers have not lost two games in a row since the Jim Harbaugh era began.Thursday night, the Niners raised their record to 5-0 after a loss under Harbaugh pounding the Seattle Seahawks at Candlestick Park for the 13-6 win.The Seahawks continued their struggles on the road losing four of the last five since the end of last season.Though the outcome may be a surprise to some, the physicality of the game shocked no one. Both teams rushed more than they passed and depended upon the defense to make a profound statement.The 49ers' defense spoke louder and held rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, in check for most of the game to claim the victory, bragging rights and a solo spot atop the NFC West division at 5-2.Here’s what we learned.The Seahawks' defense will give many teams a fit for a long time. This group’s performance propelled the team to its current relevance and it is no fluke. Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley are managing one of the youngest defensive units in The League very well. Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin bring constant pressure from the edges with a combined 11.5 sacks.Their linebackers are young and active, while Richard Sherman (6-3, 195) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 221) are easily the biggest and most physical cornerback tandem in football. They gave Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Kyle Williams trouble throughout the game.Alex Smith could only find them for six completions and 63 yards; eventually pressured to find another means to gain yardage. With the help of Pro-Bowler Earl Thomas, Seattle may finagle it’s way into the playoffs on the back of this unit.Regardless, the Seahawks are not quite ready for consideration during those talks of top teams. They are a good, young team. Game wisdom and impervious focus is required, though, during those crucial moments. Russell Wilson worked a couple comebacks (Green Bay and New England) early this season, yet the precision required to manage wins has escaped him at times.The 49ers were unable to capitalize when Wilson sought to look deep on 3rd down rather than checking down to his running back to kill more time on the clock before the close of the first half.Fortunately for the future, youth is Wilson’s greatest problem. His supporting cast is another story. At least four key drops stopped crucial drives or scores in the team’s biggest game this year. They are now 0-3 in the division; a deep hole from which to climb.This just in, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is legit. Wilson strengthens the draft class that also includes current starting quarterbacks Andrew Luck (Colts), Robert Griffin III (Redskins), Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins) and Brandon Weeden (Browns).Wilson was the ninth quarterback chosen. The Richmond, Virginia native is poised beyond his years with all the physical attributes to get it done. There is no question Pete Carroll knows what to do with a good quarterback. Surround Wilson with talent and he can possibly be the best of his class.The 49ers can never consistently depend on Alex Smith to win games. Yet, they must depend on Smith to not lose them. Sure, we watched what he did against New Orleans in the playoffs last year and how he avoided mistakes against the Giants in the NFC Championship game, but Alex Smith still has nothing near a clutch gene.More so, when the pressure is on to drop back and throw 50 times for a win, Smith will fold more often than not. The 49ers must depend on its legs and allow defenses to provide clear holes for Smith; otherwise it will be a long day. Will it stop the Niners from contending for a Superbowl? No; but the right pieces must be in place.The Niners are still the team to beat in the NFL. There is no team as complete as this one. They are solid at all phases with the best running attack by far and arguably the best defense and special teams. Since Jim Harbaugh showed up in Santa Clara, the 49ers have yet to lose while playing its best game. Barring injuries, this team will be playing for a Superbowl birth once again.
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