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How a rookie ruined DK Metcalf’s big play, and why that’s not bad

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to figure out that game the Seattle Seahawks lost to the San Francisco 49ers is not an exercise in futility as much as a masterclass in it.

This is not a year to wonder why a team would employ four running backs on the field at the same time and throw an interception. We’ve got lives to live.

It is however a phenomenal year to evaluate the rookies, young guys, 1-on-1 battles, and other more interesting things throughout the season.

There are countless dozen of these instances each game, because the team has two rookie tackles, two rookie corners, a first-year starting linebacker, and a chunk of other new starters at edge, safety, and sort of quarterback.

But the best individual moment from Week 2 was a play that won’t count, because of all three players involved. Rookies go first.

Abraham Lucas

He was truly a standout against the Denver Broncos, massively outplaying Charles Cross and looking like an immediate starter (he is).

However, he rookie mistaked his way right into SportsCenter on Sunday, by forgetting the rules on the whole trick play thing.

This is the best 52-yard reception that DK Metcalf will never be able to claim. It came back because Lucas was more than the NFL-allowed one yard downfield at the time of the pass.

My first thought was that Seattle probably got jobbed on a close call, but no, Lucas was like seven yards downfield, running through his guy like Michael Oher in Blindside.

Just the briefest of moments here to also remember that Rashaad Penny had a 23 yard run against Denver called back because of an Abraham Lucas hold. That’s not really the point, but rookies with talent learning the speed of both NFL opponents and finitude of NFL officials is among the more inconsistent and infuriating experiences for fans.

Lucas and Charles Cross will get 100% of the snaps this year barring injury, and it’s the best case scenario moving forward. They are very talented players. They will see even more talented pass rushers, and their guards are not overly helpful at the moment. It’s a trial by fire, somebody’s gonna get burnt (and burnt again), and they’ll be a better team for it.

Dekaylin Metcalf

Metcalf signed an extension with Seattle this offseason that made him the 6th highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Him making this play is good for the team.

Quandre Diggs said in the post-game that this team is not that good. The veterans know what’s up. Metcalf is on the youngest end of that, but he also knows what’s up. He wanted to be here. Geno Smith is not that good. He still wanted to be here. The team will not win most of their games this year. He still wants to go ball, go hard, and make big plays.

It is a risky thing in the NFL to give one player a significant amount of your salary cap. Players get hurt, some never play as well again. Metcalf has indicated that he is ferociously competitive and occasionally selfish, yes, but never that he would quit on the team.

The following is also an occasional worry, as it was at the beginning of last season actually. Mookie phrased it well:

However, even in some of the passes that guarantee zero yards after catch, I’ve been greatly encouraged by the difficult hands catches Metcalf has made. Quite a few of them, already. Metcalf’s first two seasons were almost defined by big plays and big drops. I can’t say it’s gone after two weeks, but it looks to be a thing he has worked through significantly this offseason.

That plays into the second reason to be encouraged on this play. That catch was the best of what Metcalf can be, and we really haven’t seen it all that much in three years. Metcalf is this good, to be sure, but I’ve chuckled at times at the hype because he hasn’t actually made the OBJ catches, or had all that much size/difficult catch success.

But an adjustment to a misplaced ball, a disrespectful bullying of 5’11” Emmanuel Moseley, and a one handed tip-to-self catch is it.

Metcalf is already one of the game’s best and any little area he can refine, whether it’s this type of catch or simply remaining focused amidst a mountain of deficits this season cements his status up at the top.

Geno Smith

Look. That whole reality about Smith being the first QB to throw 80% and not score in 100 years will probably cause people to not watch some games this year. But as I’ve said before the most interesting thing about Geno is his demonstrated willingness to throw the “go get it DK” ball. I don’t think he’s good or creative enough to do it on his own, so the coaches will have to make it happen, but he sure seems like he’s down to pull the trigger when they do.

That, unlike the other two players, has absolutely no bearing on current development or future success, but a 50-yard Metcalf catch buys at least another 20 minutes of viewership most Sundays. I’m as disappointed as anyone that the Week 1 first half Geno appears to be the mirage and the other six quarters are the real Geno Smith, but still encouraged by the fact that he’ll likely go for broke as often as Seattle makes him.