A GRIP ON SPORTS
Hope your shopping is going well. The Seahawks assured the Bay Area, at least those folks in the Bay Area that root for the 49ers, would have a Black Friday with their domination last night. Read on.
• Whenever I hear the term "Black Friday," I think of the Steely Dan song. Ya, I know I'm old. And it's not even a song I particularly like. But it was out when I was in college and there are a heck of a lot of songs, a lot of not-very-good songs, from those four years I mumble on a daily basis. But there is one line near the end of "Black Friday" that perfectly captures last night's game. "When Black Friday comes, I'm gonna stake my claim ..." The Hawks staked their claim to San Francisco last night, that's for sure. And they did it with defense. I know that it's players who win most valuable awards, but there should be something for the doctors who nursed Bobby Wagner (pictured) back to health. Since the middle linebacker has returned to the lineup, the Hawks' defense has taken off – or slammed the door shut, whichever cliché you prefer. The guy is a beast against the run – San Francisco's sourdough bread and butter – and isn't bad in coverage either. Add in the improved play up front – either that or Arizona and San Francisco's offensive lines are not very good – and you have a Seahawk defense that is more late 2013 than early 2014. And that's a song worth humming.
• I noticed one thing from yesterday's broadcast. NBC made a lot of statistical comparisons between Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson. And the two seemed pretty even. But the network never mentioned one hard-to-overlook fact. When it comes to passing statistics, Wilson has to compile his numbers with a sizable handicap. Look, which group of guys would you rather have as targets? Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis or Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Luke Willson? I know, right? The Hawks have the better team, and have had for the last two seasons, but their passing targets aren't nearly as good as what San Francisco can put on the field. And I would venture to say the 49ers have a better offensive line as well, though both teams have dealt with numerous injuries in those groups. Any way you look at it, Wilson's passing numbers are more impressive than Kaepernick's, and certainly were last night. How about 15 of 22 for 236 yards and one touchdown as opposed to 16 of 29 for 121 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions? And there were a lot of Kaepernick's throws that were so off target as to be incomprehensible. Wilson missed some guys as well, but usually by inches, not yards, and often times while on the run. One guy may stand 6-foot-4 or whatever and look like Hercules in his prime, but the other guy is the better quarterback.
• WSU: A simple Thursday in Pullman. Practice, let the youngsters play a simulated game and then feast on turkey and the fixings. No school, no interruptions. Jacob Thorpe watched the first part and has his usual practice report on the blog. He also has a story on WSU inducting Steve Gleason (pictured) into its hall of fame and his usual morning post with links. ... It's cold in Anchorage this time of year but not nearly as cold as WSU's shooting last night in the Cougars' 71-43 loss to UC Santa Barbara. I watched the first half of the game, fell asleep during halftime – turkey stupor, more than likely, and I'm not referring to dinner – and woke up after the game was done. Missed most of the Cougars' points.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan spent the holiday in New York – I once spent it in Newark and had dinner at the Holiday Inn by the airport – and looked back to the win over Georgia as well as ahead to tonight's championship matchup with St. John's, which should have a bit of a home-court advantage.
• Seahawks: One of the interesting aspects of the Hawks' 19-3 win happened late in the game, when 49er owner Jed York took to Twitter to apologize to his fans. (Richard Sherman, by the way, called out those fans, saying they are "mediocre" and that they threw things at the Hawks.) An interesting turn of events – think coach Jim Harbaugh will really be back next year? – and it was met with some disdain by his local writers. ... The rest of the reaction in the Bay Area was just as negative, which sort of matches the way the 49ers played. ... The change in the Seahawks is somewhat remarkable. Especially considering how quickly they have seemed to turn their season around. Some folks – this guy – buried them a couple of weeks ago and they have risen, Dracula-like, to feast on the lifeblood of the Cardinals and 49ers, two teams that don't suck. ... It was turkey day, so the Hawks feasted a bit after the game and Sherman said some things, as per usual. Wilson took to Twitter as well later in the evening to apologize if the postgame antics offended anyone. He said it wasn't personal and not aimed at the 49ers in any way. As Seattle meets San Francisco again in a couple weeks, that seems like a good idea. ... The Hawks had some things to say afterward, as usual, and Marshawn Lynch kept his answers short, as usual. Pete Carroll was somewhat upbeat. Imagine that. ... The game turned on a few big moments.
• That's it for today. Tomorrow is the Apple Cold, er, I mean Apple Cup. It's going to be a shilly one. Right now kickoff is looking to be about 20 degrees. That's pretty frosty. Until later ...