SEATTLE -- Look on the bright side. No one was struck by lightning.

So at least the 49ers had that going for them. Otherwise? As coach Jim Harbaugh said: "It was not our finest hour."

Make that, to be specific, not their finest 4 hours and 9 minutes. That's how long the game took to play. It only seemed longer on the 49ers sidelines.

Harbaugh and his players didn't exactly storm into town here Sunday night and take no prisoners. Instead, they were stormed out of town by an hourlong thunderbolts delay -- and then by a 29-3 drubbing courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks before a deafening crowd at CenturyLink Field.

As a bonus, the losers also had to endure a little postgame neener-neener stuff from the Seattle side, including puckish remarks from defensive back Richard Sherman, who had an impressive shutdown performance to help stifle 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his offense.

"You guys expected more (from them)?" Sherman asked reporters afterward. "Expected more Kaepernicking? We didn't expect that."

Pete Carroll, the Seattle coach, was largely gracious in victory but couldn't resist a little knife-twisting when someone asked about his team's defensive performance in relation to Kaepernick and his top receiver, Anquan Boldin.

"The quarterback threw for 450 yards last week," said Carroll. "He threw for 127 tonight," said Carroll. "What did Anquan do?"


Advertisement

One catch for 7 yards. That's what Boldin did. The Seahawks are the NFC West favorites until further notice.

Yet as the Scarlet Heroes of Yore trudged off the field into the dank Puget Sound night, one question did deserve to be raised:

Could anything good possibly come out of this? I mean, other than no more silly virtual eyebrow bets?

My odd yet bold answer: Yes.

Here are reasons why:

  • This was the third straight game in which the Seahawks have held the 49ers to one touchdown or less -- although Seattle lost one of those games, early last season, by a score of 13-6. This should cause Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman to intensely re-evaluate their philosophy of how to utilize the read-option offense.

    When the rushing elements aren't working and Kaepernick's wide receivers can't get separation, there has to be a better answer than Kaepernick running for his life. Harbaugh admitted that the 49er coaches "didn't put our players in position to be successful." So he's not in denial.

  • There's been no overt sign that Kaepernick's success a year ago has led to ego inflation. But after such a humbling loss, he ought to be driven even more to improve, especially in noisy road games. Sunday, his accuracy went down as his poise melted. Kaepernick is not the first 25-year-old NFL quarterback to have that happen. But it shouldn't happen as a 26-year-old -- and his birthday is in November.

  • The 49ers schedule this season is exceedingly top heavy. They are one of just two teams forced to open with three straight opponents who reached the 2012 playoffs -- Green Bay, Seattle, and Indianapolis. (The Packers are the other team in that situation, facing the 49ers, Washington and Cincinnati.) The schedule then softens, giving them much-needed weeks to regroup before the Dec. 8 rematch with Seattle at Candlestick Park. Some of the injuries suffered Sunday, including those to safety Eric Reid (concussion) and tight end Vernon Davis (hamstring), should certainly be healed by then.

  • The 49ers defense played more solidly than it did a week ago in the opening win over Green Bay. Holding a good Seattle team to 20 points (the other nine were created by a safety and a Kaepernick interception that was returned to the 2-yard line) is good enough to win most games if the 49ers offense is working at full efficiency. But video sessions this week should be pointed ones.

    Pass rusher Aldon Smith creates effective mayhem, but he must learn that no good can come out of mixing it up after the whistle. In the third quarter, his personal foul penalty for a jab to the face of a Seattle lineman nullified a third-down stop and led to a Seattle touchdown.

    To be sure, the 49ers need to do some soul-searching. But far better to search for your team's soul in Week 3 than after a late-season loss that could be far more devastating. If the 49ers take care of business, they should still enter the Dec. 8 game with the opportunity to win the NFC West and earn home-field advantage for the playoffs. But only if they were taking careful notes Sunday night. Shame on them if they weren't.

    Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MercPurdy.

    SUNDAY'S GAME

    Indianapolis (1-1)
    at 49ers (1-1),
    1:25 p.m. CBS

    MORE COVERAGE

    Turnovers, penalties and injuries costly to 49ers. PAGE 4