Seahawks tweak run game, get Marshawn Lynch going

Marshawn Lynch rushed 27 times for 122 yards against the 49ers. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Here are five thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks, with the help of the All-22 film and ESPN Stats & Information.

1. The most encouraging aspect of the win over the 49ers was the Seahawks' run game and Marshawn Lynch. Lynch carried 27 times for 122 yards, but most important was how he picked up those yards. Lynch averaged 3.07 yards before contact (14th among Week 7 ball carriers), a huge bump from what we saw in the first six weeks when he averaged just 1.18 (50th). This suggests the run blocking, the play calling and Lynch's vision worked well together. And the Seahawks stayed away, for the most part, from the zone read and shotgun runs. Twenty-four of Lynch's carries (105 yards) came with Russell Wilson under center. Seventeen of those carries (84 yards) came with fullback Will Tukuafu in the backfield. The Seahawks ran their inside zone and wide zone all game long, but did not use Wilson to account for unblocked defenders.

2. Wilson is being sacked on 11.6 percent of his dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL and the second-highest rate among quarterbacks in the past six years. The 49ers got him five times, but not all of the sacks were a result of protection breakdowns. In the second quarter, Wilson had a clean pocket, but saw running room and took off. He couldn't get away and was sacked. It looked like Tyler Lockett was open on the play on a comeback route. On another play, it looked like Wilson had Doug Baldwin, but held on to the ball and took a sack. Backup right tackle Alvin Bailey was beaten cleanly on two other sacks. And on the fifth one, it looked like a complete breakdown. Bottom line: Protection could be better, but not all of the sacks are on the offensive line.

3. In the secondary, the Seahawks' cornerbacks played really well. Granted, Colin Kaepernick was off all game long, but Richard Sherman traveled with Torrey Smith and held him without a catch. Sherman would never admit this, but he seemed annoyed that Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 82nd-best cornerback going into the week. With games coming up against (possibly) Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald and Antonio Brown, I think we're going to see Sherman match up with opposing receivers more than he ever has in the past. As for Cary Williams, he held up well against Anquan Boldin. Boldin had piled up 209 yards in his previous two games, but was held to three catches for 39 yards and two of those catches came when a defender other than Williams was matched up against him.

4. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were dominant up front. Bennett had 3.5 sacks to give him 6.5 on the season, which is tied for tops in the league. He had multiple plays where he shot into the backfield and affected runs. Bennett also blew up a screen on the play where he mocked Kaepernick and kissed his biceps afterward. As for Avril, his versatility really stood out. He had one play where he ran step for step with Vernon Davis on a wheel route down the sideline. Avril had 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble on a run play. Pass rush and coverage work hand in hand, and Bennett and Avril are giving the Seahawks' defense a nice boost right now.

5. Leftovers: The Seahawks' empty set had been a disaster early in the season, but Wilson went 6-for-6 for 103 yards out of this look Thursday night. ... On the offensive line, left tackle Russell Okung played probably his best game of the year. I didn't notice him give up a single hit or sack and Okung was a key factor in how the Seahawks ran the ball. ... On Wilson's first interception, I thought he had Baldwin for the touchdown. He was scrambling and perhaps couldn't get enough on the ball. The defensive back made a nice play. ... Backup defensive lineman David King showed some pass-rush ability.