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2011 49ers Week 1: Five observations

Five things I noticed while watching the San Francisco 49ers during their 33-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1:

  • Linebacker Patrick Willis welcoming Seahawks rookie left guard James Carpenter to the NFL with a sledgehammer hit. Carpenter had pulled across the formation and was turning upfield to his left when Willis greeted him. Willis got lower than Carpenter and launched into him so hard that he separated Carpenter from his helmet. Slow-motion replays showed Carpenter's helmet staying in place while his head moved backward quickly enough to leave behind the helmet. Teammate Ray McDonald tackled Marshawn Lynch in the backfield.

  • Left tackle Joe Staley's athleticism in pulling about 20 yards across the field and then six yards downfield to block Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor, clearing the way for Frank Gore's 12-yard run. The ball was snapped from the left hash at the Seattle 27-yard line. Staley made his block outside the numbers on the right side. Quarterback Alex Smith was also blocking on this play. He blocked cornerback Marcus Trufant.

  • Defensive tackle Will Tukuafu taking his time before going after the Tarvaris Jackson fumble he caught and returned in Seattle territory. Tukuafu said he didn't want to alert the man blocking him, Russell Okung, that the ball was in play. Okung's back was to the ball, but if Tukuafu had disengaged from the block and made it clear he was going after the ball, Okung could have stopped him. As things played out, Okung had no idea what happened until Tukuafu was running downfield.

  • Smith making an exceptional throw along the right sideline to Vernon Davis through two defenders, Aaron Curry and Earl Thomas, after rolling to his right away from pressure. Receiver Michael Crabtree tried to block Trufant on the play, then turned and knocked down Thomas. I noticed Crabtree throwing around his body a couple times.

  • Davis failing to extend for the ball when Chancellor was charging toward him on a third-quarter play. Brandon Browner, the Seahawks' 6-foot-4 cornerback, was covering Davis on the play (there's another story for our consideration). Browner had his right hand on Davis' upper right arm as the ball was arriving, but if Davis had tried to go after this ball more aggressively, his chances of catching it would have improved.

Back with Seahawks-related observations after a bit.