The Seahawks ran only 61 plays in Week 16, typical of a team that built a big lead and started running clock. And the comparison to this week isn't great as the 49ers faced an easy test against a first-time starting QB in Brian Hoyer.
Updating the stats for fatigue, and we see that the defense improved in almost all categories facing the hapless Cardinals offense. Yards/Carry against improved to below 4.00 for the first time in three weeks and Yards/Attempt fell for the first time in three weeks as well. Again, not much to see here, but I was glad that the defense showed up in a game that had serious playoff implications.
More concerning was David Akers' day. Again, I'm in the camp that a 40 yard + field goal is a long ways from a sure thing for anybody, but kicking in good weather at home, in a playoff-esque setting, you can't keep missing. Over his last six weeks, the only game in which he didn't miss was against Miami. Twice against the Rams, Akers missed game winning opportunities. Yeah, those kicks were tough but in the playoffs you can't make mistakes like that.
I don't want to impose a narrative on things that is untrue, but after the second FG missed wide, Akers put his hands on his knees, the look of a kicker that is searching. He doesn't look like he knows what's wrong. And that could be dangerous. Also, no one came up to him to give him dap, encourage him, help him feel confident. They need this guy, but there doesn't seem to be emotion there for him to draw on. After he made his firs FG, I felt there should have been a mini celebration, but it looked like he walked to the bench alone. This is concerning because I feel you need a special energy/emotion to win it all. On Grantland last week, Simmons ran a podcast from before the 2007 Super Bowl where he describe that Pats team as being flat energetically. He noticed that in the first few Super Bowls, Brady was almost a crazy person, banging helmets, slapping things, and screaming before the game. Then, success became expected and they stopped doing those things. I hope that this 49ers team can get the emotion back. I hope a young Colin Kaepernick will invigorate the team. I hope that Frank Gore deservingly setting the team's TD record will help the offense get some swagger back. I don't know if these things are important to winning, but they look important to a fan.