The NFC West belongs to the San Francisco 49ers, and they clinched in the no longer fearsome venue that is Lumen Field.
It was always a tough task for the Seattle Seahawks to get anything out of this game, and while they were competitive enough to only lose 21-13, the game felt more lopsided than that. We’ve had some thrills and more wins than most had expected, but there is still a massive talent disparity between the top of the NFL (of which the 49ers are among that group) and where the Seahawks are. It was evident with their losses to sub .500 teams and confirmed with how outgunned they were against the 49ers. Unlike most other games this season it was almost a horribly unenjoyable effort so devoid of big plays that it was largely boring to watch.
Winners and Losers time.
Pressed into action with Bryan Mone’s injury, Adams had a pass defensed at the line of scrimmage and had the only tackle for loss the Seahawks managed on any 49ers rushing attempt.
Fant has emerged as the team’s top receiving option at tight end. He finished the night with 5 catches for 32 yards and the Seahawks’ only offensive touchdown in 120 minutes of football against the 49ers.
Please make him a permanent part of the active roster. Watching him return kicks is like a different experience compared to... well... everything else we’ve seen over the past few years.
He’s still not missing! No missed field goals or PATs since Week 5.
Wasn’t that punt to the 1-yard line gorgeous?
I really don’t like doing this but I have to. Diggs has not been great this season and that dropped interception was huge. Seattle got the ball back anyway but the field position mattered so much and would’ve affected the playcalling and decision making before the end of the half. Quandre was caught out on the first George Kittle touchdown and then whiffed on the second one.
The injury against the Cardinals last season really was awful and it’s surely affected his performance this year. I don’t know what the ramifications are for 2023 but Diggs is really struggling out there and it sucks to watch.
Can’t fumble. Can’t do it. Seattle has turned it over in every game this season and that was the most damaging play of the game and one of the most damaging plays of the whole season.
The entire offensive line
They never had much of a chance. Charles Cross and Abe Lucas got ripped up by Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam. Against an elite defensive line you would expect the rookies to struggle so I am not that bothered. Run blocking again remains an issue but the 49ers run defense is phenomenal.
This interior is so bad, though. Damien Lewis I think has been fine if not pretty good for the most part. What I am certain of is that Austin Blythe cannot be this team’s starting center in 2022. I know there’s a certain Kansas City Chiefs star we’d have rather seen be this team’s C but we have discussed this to death. Blythe is essentially better Joey Hunt and that is not a ringing endorsement. The Gabe Jackson/Phil Haynes rotation has me going “neither” for 2023.
The OL is still a work in progress. A new center and right guard are needed next season... especially center. It turns out re-signing Ethan Pocic (who himself is injured, at the moment) would’ve been fine based on his performance in Cleveland.
The good news is that Darrell forced a hold on Mike McGlinchey, which is Seattle’s first holding penalty drawn on a pass play since the Chargers game in October. Two plays later he jumps offside on 4th and 7 when the 49ers were never going to go for it and just wanted to run the clock down. Just a poor discipline move that I suspect is part of why the coaching staff has not been willing to play him much.
Taylor’s roster spot even with a year left on his contract should not be a lock for 2023. Seattle really has a hard time drafting reliable edge rushers under Pete and John.
It was not an effective game for DK, who had 7 catches for just 55 yards and rightfully had a catch taken away for OPI. I am really annoyed though with his 15-yard penalties. Off the top of my head that’s the third one during this 1-4 stretch and two of them were when the Seahawks were losing. You can complain about the officiating all you want but this has to stop.
It’s probably time to look a little more critically at Brooks. He couldn’t bring down Ray-Ray McCloud on a 3rd and 15 and ended up getting blocked out by George Kittle. Ryan Neal didn’t help him either by taking a terrible angle. Much like Diggs, Brooks got frozen on the (admittedly well designed) first touchdown to Kittle on the second pump fake by Brock Purdy. The highlight of his night was actually stopping a screen, which I didn’t think was possible with this defense. Before his sore neck kept him out of the last couple of possessions it was not one of Brooks’ best outings. It’s been too easy to pick on Cody Barton; Brooks is the one I’m not terribly high on. The disparity between him and Barton and Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw is staggering.
The final statline shows Smith at 31/44 for 238 yards and a touchdown. He was under constant duress and that looked all too familiar when thinking back to some of the worst Seahawks games over the past several seasons.
I don’t want to look at Geno through the prism of Russell Wilson or his past play with the New York Jets. It is most useful to compare him to the other 30+ starters in this season. But I do want to note that he was fortunate once again not to have had multiple interceptions, including a pick-6 negated on a horrible roughing the passer call against Nick Bosa. The stats put Geno at 0 turnovers but his efficiency has dropped significantly for several weeks. They’re beginning to stack up and while not every turnover (like the Dee Eskridge dropped toss) is his fault, Smith has undeniably come back down to Earth. He’s still been more good than bad, don’t get me wrong, it’s just that the spectacular start was never sustainable.
Geno Smith— Kevin Cole (@KevinCole___) December 12, 2022
Weeks 1-4: 5th in EPA/play, 30.9 total EPA
Weeks 5-14: 18th in EPA/play, 29.7 total EPA
Mistakes have been killers, with Geno losing more expected points to INTs, sacks and fumbles since Week 5 than any other quarterback pic.twitter.com/1GximK1y3v
Against a defense this stout with a bad running game and an offensive line way out of its depth, Geno was up against it tonight. But in the long-term these final few weeks may shape what the Seahawks see in Geno and whether or not they will commit to him long-term, short-term, or move on entirely. I’d like to see Geno stay on the team in 2023 but I will confess that these past few weeks have given me trepidation about a big money, long-term commitment.
Beyond the shotgun heavy approach, the eradication of his scheme wants tight ends are taken away as passing targets, and everything else...
STOP THE DAMN SCREEN PASSES! STOP! STOP STOP STOP STOP STOP!!
Pete Carroll - Defensive Mastermind
It must pain Carroll to watch another game in which his team struggles to run the ball and the other team can run it. I think I know what his priority will be in 2023. The 2022 Draft class was a promising start for a rebuild but watching weekly busted coverages and blown assignments regardless of the experience level of the roster is maddening. The Chargers are a terrible defense and they shut down the vaunted Miami Dolphins offense while missing half of its lineup.
Carroll the coach seems to be unable to get this defense prepared to anything resembling an acceptable NFL standard, and it has been years since they have had above-average talent to compete with the best in the league. That falls on Carroll the personnel guy. We’ll see if 2023’s efforts to improve the trenches can go as well as the 2022 improvements at cornerback. If not... more of the same is coming.
- I don’t know what else I can add to the news of Tyler Lockett’s injury. It sucks and the Seahawks offense will crater significantly because of it.
- Bryan Mone’s ACL injury figures to be a season-ender, which also sucks.
- The run defense gave up 170 but it held up better than I thought, which is partially due to the people missing and partially because the run defense has been so much worse throughout the season.
- Good to see Dareke Young make his first NFL catch, even if it did end up not counting. Oh well, perhaps he’ll have more chances with Lockett out.
- Kenneth Walker III looked healthy and racked up 79 total yards of offense. His opportunities against that defense were always going to be limited, but he at least had a nice 34-yard catch-and-run that led to the touchdown.
- The Seahawks played the 31st ranked schedule by DVOA prior to tonight. Only the 49ers and (next week) the Chiefs figure to be Super Bowl contenders. Ten of their games are against currently sub .500 teams and even an above .500 team in the Los Angeles Chargers rank 26th in DVOA. This schedule was daunting looking in May but it turns out it was pretty damn easy, and the Seahawks sit at 7-7. Now that we have a large enough sample size, it seems a lot more like Seattle with even a moderately harder schedule would be a 4- or 5-win team. We know that after the fact but in the moment it was fun to watch this underdog story race out to a 6-3 start. Reality has set in and they just are not there yet. Do not be surprised if the Seahawks lose out, because that’s far more likely to happen than 9-8 and a shot at the playoffs.