The New Boss in the N.F.C. West Is Seattle



The slick score — Metcalf’s sixth of the year — also got rave reviews from LeBron James, who called the second-year receiver Baby Bron on Instagram. In a caption to a picture, James wrote, “We built different.”

Metcalf is indeed different from most receivers. At 6-foot-4, he is both tall and fast. Several 49ers defensive backs bounced off him on Sunday, and two defenders were draped over him in the end zone when he caught his second touchdown of the game.

As for the 49ers, maybe it is the Super Bowl hangover. Maybe the injuries, freakish or otherwise, have thrown them off track. Maybe their opponents have just gotten better at figuring them out. Whatever the reason, the team looks like a shell of the one that dominated the N.F.C. last year. The 49ers slipped to 4-4, good for only last place in the tough N.F.C. West.

The gap between the teams seems to grow by the week. Seattle has the top-ranked offense in the league, which has managed to offset a defense that is giving up the most yards per game in the N.F.L. Like last year, the 49ers still have a stingy defense. But injuries have hurt the offense, including ones to wide receiver Deebo Samuel and to running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, who left Sunday’s game with a knee injury.

The Seahawks shut down the 49ers’ run game on Sunday and knocked out quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who aggravated an ankle injury, and tight end George Kittle, who left with an injured foot. The 49ers managed just 116 yards in the first half and turned over the ball twice. Most of their points and yardage came in the fourth quarter when Garoppolo’s backup, Nick Mullens, took over with the Seahawks ahead by 23 points.

The 49ers continue an uneven season in which three of their four wins have come against the Giants, the Jets and the New England Patriots, who have combined for three wins this year. A rash of injuries has made it harder for the 49ers to compete against stronger teams. On defense, they are missing cornerback Richard Sherman, defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas, and safety Jaquiski Tartt, among others.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said injuries were no excuse. “I don’t think we played good as a group,” he said on Sunday. “We’ve missed players a number of times and that’s not a reason to go out there and not play well.”



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