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Chris Carson has a good day against San Francisco

Tuesday I started looking at the carries by Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. In this piece I’ll be looking Carson carrying the ball in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers.

For those who may have missed out on the fun we had reviewing Eddie Lacy’s carries during the 2017 season, those can be found here.

Now, however, it’s time to look at Carson in Week 2.

Carry 1: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 32 with 10:39 to go in the 1st Quarter

This is one of the first times where I have an issue with Carson’s vision. The play was obviously designed to be run off tackle, and Carson has a large hole with Tre Madden lead blocking. However, Carson sees a crease off of Britt’s backside and hits the hole hard. He gets three yards, but if he had followed Madden I would have been surprised if it hadn’t been a lot more.

Carry 2: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 17 with 7:07 to go in the 1st Quarter

On this play Carson had a small crease in between Mark Glowinski and Nick Vannett, but a slightly overruns it, and runs into the back of Vannett. In the still you can see Carson’s hand on Vannett’s back, and as Carson pushes Vannett out of the way, Vannett goes flying forward and to the ground. Carson gains two on the play.

Carry 3: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 3 with 13:31 to go in the 2nd Quarter

The Niners stack the box with eight defenders and the Hawks only have seven blockers, but Carson still appears to see a sliver of a cutback lane off Luke Joeckel’s outside hip. Unfortunately for Carson, Earl Mitchell who Justin Britt is blocking is having none of that, and Britt is tossed to the side and Mitchell makes the tackle after a one yard gain.

Carry 4: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 9 at the 4 with 13:17 to go in the 2nd Quarter

This is a second consecutive great play by Mitchell, who is circled in yellow. Mitchell, an eighth year veteran recognizes Glowinski attempting to release to the second level, so he holds Glow to prevent a clean release. That slows Glow up just enough that Carson hits the hole off Germain Ifedi’s back hip so hard that Carson gets to Navorro Bowman, who is just above the yellow circle in this picture, before Glowinski does. Bowman takes Carson down after a gain of three.

Carry 5: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 16 with 12:09 to go in the 2nd Quarter

The line blocks great on this play, the linebacker circled in red (Navorro Bowman once again) has overpursued and there is a cutback lane big enough for Carson to drive a beer truck through with Luke Willson (circled in yellow) lead blocking. The play goes for a gain of seven.

Unfortunately, Willson was called for holding on the play, so it came back. However, the loss of those seven yards was important as Carson finished the day with 93 yards on 19 carries, or seven yards short of his first career 100 yard game, perhaps thanks to this holding penalty.

Carry 6: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 27 with 11:30 to go in the 2nd Quarter

We saw this in Week 1 from Carson, and having watched all his carries from 2017 it’s my biggest critique regarding the way he runs. At this point in the play Carson can attempt to take the ball outside, or he can cutback to his left and run off of Joeckel’s backside. We’ll see over the course of his rushing attempts that this is a habit he will need to break because it simply does not work in the NFL the majority of the time. If he cuts back to the left on his next step, he’s got a seam and could go for a couple of yards. However, here he does what he does on a lo of his runs that go for a loss or no gain, and that is to try to get the corner. He’s tackled right at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

Carry 7: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 7 at the 22 with 7:28 to go in the 2nd Quarter

This play is mind blowing from Carson. The Niners again packed the box with eight defenders, and in the capture Carson is at the line of scrimmage with four members of the 49ers defense surrounding him. He explodes and lowers his should between the two defenders upfield from him for a gain of eight.

Carry 8: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 49 with 6:15 to go in the 2nd Quarter

On this play Seattle is spread out and only has six blockers to take on the seven defenders the Niners have in the box. Carson has the tiniest of creases between Glowinski and Ifedi, but rather than hitting the hole, he hesitates and runs parallel to the line of scrimmage before being taken down by the unblocked defender (94).

Carry 9: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 7 with 11:58 to go in the 3rd Quarter

Everybody does a good job blocking and there’s a reasonably sized hole that Carson sees and hits for a gain of four.

Carry 10: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 6 at the 11 with 11:39 to go in the 3rd Quarter

Carson sees a huge cutback lane and attacks it. Only a shoestring tackle by Bowman (circled) prevents this play from going for far more than four yards.

Carry 11: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 3rd & 2 at the 15 with 11:08to go in the 3rd Quarter

It’s 3rd & 2 and Carson needs the 17 for the first down. The line, Tanner McEvoy, Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin all block beautifully, allowing Carson to basically walk past the first down marker on his way to gaining five.

Carry 12: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 10 at the 42 with 4:39 to go in the 3rd Quarter

The Niners defense is playing run the whole way, with eight men in the box. Solomon Thomas, after having badly beaten Rees Odhiambo, is in the backfield just as Chris Carson is getting the handoff. Carson manages to sidestep Thomas, but is then swarmed by three 49ers and taken down for a loss of one.

Carry 13: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 33 with 1:25 to go in the 3rd Quarter

There is good initial blocking on this play, however, neither Britt nor Odhiambo are able to sustain their blocks, and Carson is swarmed at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

Carry 14: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 1 at the 43 with 9:37 to go in the 4th Quarter

The Niners had seven men in the box to attack just six Seattle blockers, but the line blocked well enough to give Carson a hole, and he patiently runs behind his blockers until exploding into the second level for a gain of 14.

Carry 15: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 10 with 7:58 to go in the 4th Quarter

Expecting a run, the Niners have seven in the box, with Eli Harold lined up to cover Graham. As the snap approaches Harold creeps down towards the line of scrimmage, leaving Seattle with six blockers for seven defenders. That turns out to be irrelevant as Odhiambo completely whiffs on 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead just as Carson takes the handoff. Luckily for Seattle, the play is going the exact opposite direction, and Carson ducks through the hole behind Britt for a three yard gain.

Carry 16: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 12 with 4:47 to go in the 4th Quarter

San Francisco is expecting run the entire way and has eight men in the box. The defense sends both Ray Ray Armstrong and Bowman on a run blitz up the middle, but with the play design to the outside left, it is a perfect call by Darrell Bevell. With the defense having sold out to stop the run up the middle, there is no run support off the edge, and Odhiambo wins just enough in his battle against Solomon Thomas to let Carson turn the corner and gain eight.

The capture is at the very end of the play, and the reason I’ve included it is to give Carson credit for a heady football IQ play. When this play took place there was less than five minutes to go in the game and the Seahawks had the lead. Carson could have continued on his path and picked up a few more yards, but ran the risk of going out of bounds if he did so. Rather than risk stopping the clock, Carson gives himself up on a slide, which is what is seen in the picture. This not only kept the clock running, it set the Hawks up with a second and short.

Carry 17: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 2 at the 20 with 4:29 to go in the 4th Quarter

Glowinski is beaten to the inside initially, but he stays with his man and ends up sealing off two 49ers defenders as Carson sidesteps the initial penetration and has a one on one matchup in the hole with Navorro Bowman needing two yards for the first down. Carson wins that battle, and Seattle gets the first down to keep the clock running.

Carry 18: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 23 with 4:00 to go in the 4th Quarter

It’s first and ten with the clock running late in the game. The Niners know Seattle is going to be running the ball and once again has eight men in the box at the snap. The eight men in the box are irrelevant because this is the hole the line opens for Carson, who sprints through for a gain of 12 and another first down, forcing San Francisco to burn its final timeout.

Carry 19: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 1st & 10 at the 35 with 3:16 to go in the 4th Quarter

Everybody blocks this perfectly, with the exception of Odhiambo. I can’t tell if he was trying a cut block and failed or if he simply got twisted up and fell to the ground while blocking DeForest Buckner, but that’s him on the ground in the middle of the image. If he hadn’t been laying down on the job, Carson has another big hole, but as it is he is face to face with the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft who makes the tackle to limit the play to a two yard gain.

Carry 20: Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers; 2nd & 8 at the 37 with 3:03 to go in the 4th Quarter

This play is so beautifully executed it gets two captures. Why? Because it’s 2nd & 8 with the clock running inside of three minutes to go and the 49ers out of timeouts. Seattle simply needs to do two things to wrap up the victory, and those are to not turn the ball over and to get one more first down.

The four previous playcalls have all been handoffs to Carson, and there is no reason to think Bevell is going away from that pattern. The line blocks beautifully as Ifedi helps his man upfield and out of the play, Glow gets into the second level to block Ray Ray Armstrong with Paul Richardson crashing down on the linebacker. Carson sprints to the outside following his lead blocking, and as soon as he has the edge turns upfield.

This still is to show another savvy, high football IQ play by Carson who is one on one in space needing the 45 yard line to close out the game. If Carson ducks his head to the outside and heads for the sideline, there is a possibility he is pushed out of bounds stopping the clock short of the two minute warning. That could give the 49ers a new shot at wining the game, however, Carson smartly ducks to the inside, away from the sideline and keeps the clock rolling, effectively ending the game.

That wraps up a look at the best rushing performance by and Seahawk running back in 2017, and takes us more than halfway through all of Carson’s 2017 carries.