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Seahawks rookie growing pains: Tariq Woolen’s costly missed assignment

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Any realistic chance the Seattle Seahawks had at an upset win over the San Francisco 49ers pretty much went up in flames a minute into the third quarter, when Brock Purdy found a wide open George Kittle for a 54-yard touchdown. It was Kittle’s second touchdown of the game and gave the 49ers an insurmountable 21-3 lead.

If you’ve seen all three touchdowns thrown by the 49ers in the two games against the Seahawks this season, you may notice something...

Yeah. Wide open.

Isolating just to Kittle’s second touchdown, the coverage bust is not on linebacker Jordyn Brooks, but rookie cornerback Tariq Woolen. Our former Field Gulls film analyst Matty F. Brown was on the spot with it during the game!

Pete Carroll later confirmed on Seattle Sports 710 on Friday that the busted coverage in this Cover 3, three-deep zone was on Woolen.

Woolen should’ve stayed in his outside third zone in this alignment. Instead he completely abandoned his zone and effectively double covered Jauan Jennings just short of the first down marker. While I respect Jennings as a third option at receiver, something has presumably gone horribly wrong in the coverage if he’s getting double teamed. Unfortunately, Bruce Irvin ended up passing Kittle to absolutely no one, and you know the rest. Neither Quandre Diggs nor Cody Barton came remotely close to bringing him down.

There’s no doubt that Tariq Woolen has been sensational throughout the season. The fifth-round pick out of UTSA became a starter on Day 1 and has played like one of the best corners in the league. There’s a chance he might lead the league in interceptions—he currently has six—and that’s with the acknowledgement that he’s being targeted infrequently as is. But he’s still a rookie and he’s still learning, so mistakes will be made. This was an untimely bust in such an important game, and all you can hope for is that Woolen learns from this and continues to kick ass.