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Winners and many, many Losers from 49ers 31, Seahawks 13

That was as awful as expected and then some.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t have it recorded somewhere, but I predicted a 34-13 loss for the Seattle Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers. It was said within my household the night before the game, so you’ll just have to believe me on this one. If the 49ers felt like it, they could’ve added a field goal late but they settled for just the 31-13 scoreline.

At no point were the Seahawks ever really in this one. It was threatening to be a 42-7 redux from the 2017 Rams game if not for the 3rd quarter mini-comeback, which fizzled out meekly in the end.

This is not a good team, which I can sort of stomach if the problem was mostly or wholly quarterback regression. The problems run much deeper than the quarterback, which means this team could play like a bottom-10 if not bottom-5 group by the end of the season if they don’t get their you-know-what together.

Winners and Losers time.


Winners

Devon Witherspoon

He got beat for the touchdown late by Brandon Aiyuk but he’s one of the few players who acquitted himself well on either side of the ball. Witherspoon had a wizard-like PBU on Aiyuk earlier in the night, using his right hand to deflect Brock Purdy’s pass away while his back was turned. Aiyuk flashed his hands late, so Witherspoon made himself big and prevented a score. Witherspoon also had a tackle for loss on a screen and is just generally outstanding to watch.

Dee Eskridge

Words I didn’t think I’d type. Eskridge had an 11-yard run on a jet sweep, a 66-yard kick return that set up a Jason Myers field goal, and another good kick return that put Seattle in solid field position. Give credit where credit is due.

Jordyn Brooks

For being the only guy to get in the end zone tonight. Right place, right time, and a fitting 12-yard pick-6.

Leonard Williams

No, the trade wasn’t worth it, but he’s still clearly a good player. Williams had a couple of QB hits and was one of the few getting any pressure in Brock Purdy’s face. He blew up a screen pass for a tackle for loss, which put the 49ers out of field goal range. Leonard deserved to be traded to a Super Bowl contender, not the Seahawks.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Just for one catch. He’s going to be a special player. Just needs a better offensive coordinator and quarterback.

Zach Charbonnet

The stats aren’t impressive (14 carries for 47 yards and 4 catches for 11 yards) and he accidentally tripped Geno Smith, but he runs hard, he runs forward, and he’s even got skills in the open field to make Nick Bosa whiff. I’m really reaching here, am I not?

Losers

Pete Carroll

Two games against genuine Super Bowl contenders? Losses by a combined score of 68-16. At least the defense sort of held firm against the Ravens and then fell apart. The 49ers cut through Seattle on the opening drive, which is now the fifth time this season the Seahawks have given up an opening drive touchdown, so your “the defense is gassed because of the offense” excuse holds no weight.

I cannot tolerate sloppy football. Missed tackling, miscommunications on defense, illegal shift penalties, it’s all tiresome.

Carroll’s on the Losers list not just for the disjointed, dysfunctional nature of this team, but for his very expensive and perpetually mediocre defense. It’s damning of this unit that they’re going to get pity praised for giving up 31 points on 377 yards of offense and 169 yards rushing while missing only one starter. As I’ve said before, if “the offense isn’t sustaining drives” is the forever excuse, then the New York Jets should be giving up 45 per game. Shockingly, they’re not.

Here’s a graph from earlier in the week that shows the Seahawks are spending the 2nd highest amount of cash (not cap hit) on the defensive side of the ball for the 2023 season. On the season, most of the top-10 spenders are above average. Then you have the below-average Seahawks, who will drop even more after tonight.

This is just on cash spent. We are not including the draft capital given up for Williams or Adams. The Seahawks defense costs a pretty penny and is built to beat neither the 49ers nor even convincingly beat a John Wolford-led Rams offense.

That falls on Pete the defensive coach and Pete the front office guy. I’m tired of it. I know I’ve said the Seahawks can’t contend without an elite offense and that they can skirt by with an average defense, but I’m still waiting for Carroll to re-earn his reputation on defense. It’s not happening now and may never happen again for as long as he’s the coach. And yes, to answer that person from the Mailbag the other day, I do believe a Sean McVay or Kevin O’Connell or Kevin Stefanski can get better results and draw more out of this roster, as flawed as it may be. Doesn’t mean I think Pete’s a bad coach, but I don’t think he’s a coach who can succeed without an overwhelming talent advantage.

Geno Smith

A very kind statline for Geno: 19/27 for 170 yards and an interception on one of the many out routes he likes to throw and what his offensive coordinator seems hell-bent on dialing up.

Smith was bad, injury fully acknowledged. Some bad sacks taken, some blitzes not dealt with pre-snap, some bad and risky throws, there was not a lot to praise unless it was in the uptempo offense.

No, Geno is not as good as Russell Wilson at his best. He never has been. I don’t want his story to be looked upon in vitriolic manner because he was never even supposed to look competent in the first place. As a bridge quarterback, he’s been acceptable and has had some genuinely great games and clutch moments during his tenure in Seattle. But he’s not the long-term answer at quarterback, and that part I do not believe is debatable even if you are a much stronger Geno defender than myself. There’s really only one game (the Cincinnati Bengals) I can definitively point to and say a better quarterback wins that for the Seahawks. Maybe the second Rams game too but the outcome is a mystery to us since he got hurt while up 16-7.

The problem for the Seahawks is that an elite quarterback can likely overcome the adversity around him—bad pass pro, questionable playcalling, penalties—and still be a high-level producer. Wilson was that guy and propped up some pretty iffy and fading rosters before his departure. Geno is not in that tier, unfortunately. He is a quarterback who is as good as the roster around him is, which at this point, as exciting as several players are on both sides of the ball, is not as good as we think it is or want it to be.

Seattle is failing itself if no quarterback is drafted early in 2024, whether Geno is on the roster or not.

Shane Waldron

Almost entirely for this play. Noah Fant ends up crossing to the boundary, which means the middle of the field is not in use for a blitz.

I don’t even think he called a poor game, necessarily. Maybe Pete is pulling rank and telling Shane to abandon plays that at least have a target in the middle of the field, but this is two straight weeks of this nonsensical playcalling that sets up almost any quarterback to fail.

19 of the last 50 times the Seahawks have failed to crack 300 yards of total offense have come under Waldron, which includes a few Russell Wilson starts. Lest we forget how heavily boom-or-bust that offense was even before the finger injury. They were similarly awful on 3rd downs but at least they were great in the red zone.

His departure feels almost inevitable, especially with this team’s inability to consistently run the ball well.

Riq Woolen

Supposedly Woolen’s shoulder issue was bad enough to get him benched for Mike Jackson but not bad enough to get him playing time on special teams. Tackling is not his forte and I get that, but the poor effort on the Christian McCaffrey cutback turned into an explosive play, and then he essentially tackled Tre Brown instead of Jauan Jennings for a 3rd down conversion. The benching was surprising but warranted.

DeeJay Dallas

That muffed punt was brutal, and then trying to pick it back up is just bad instincts. Fall on the ball and let the two-minute offense do something. That’s two lost fumbles on punt returns this season for Dallas.

Jason Myers

I didn’t put him in the bad column last week but I will this week. It’s pretty standard for a kicker to be reasonably dependable from 50+ yards. Myers is now 3/7 on the season, which is anything but, and two of those misses were in domes.

DK Metcalf

I’ve been very willing to defend Metcalf from detractors who get on him for his penalties and the value he brings to the team.

That was an awful game from DK.

He had a drop on the first Geno Smith pass, another drop later in the game that looks even worse watching Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and on arguably Geno’s best throw of the night he fails to get both feet in-bounds. More puzzling is the fact that he jumped for the ball for no reason, making it that much harder.

Metcalf is a very good receiver and I will stand by that statement. He’s not great. He doesn’t do enough of the little things well to be great. Contested catches in tight coverage are not his strong-suit and probably never will be.

Offensive Line

Stone Forsythe was probably the worst offender. Honestly, I shouldn’t put him here. He’s not a right tackle and had to play right tackle against Nick Bosa and other tremendous 49ers defensive players. But he was getting owned repeatedly and two of Geno Smith’s sacks involved instant pressure. Offensive line depth league-wide is not great, but it is damning of this organization that two offensive tackles went down and 41-year-old Jason Peters is seemingly a better option than both Stone and Jake Curhan. They have plenty of guard depth and nothing at tackle, the area where it’s more important to have depth.

But the OL as a whole was as physically overmatched as humanly possible. Seattle is too easy to bully in the trenches.

Bobby Wagner

I hate to do this to Bobby but he’s just getting roasted by both McVay and Shanahan. Prime Bobby Wagner famously was able to run with Randall Cobb deep down the field—okay, he committed pass interference but you get the point. The 2023 version of Wagner is getting exploited in mismatches and his lateral quickness is not what it used to be. He’s still good at getting downhill and he nearly had a sack, but when he’s on the move in pass coverage it is Old Bobby Wagner, not the Bobby Wagner of old. I’m sure Bobby will disagree but he’s supposed to disagree. My viewpoint is unchanged, and when Bobby is in Canton in a few years, 2023 will not be how I best remember the best linebacker in Seahawks history.

The idea of the Seahawks dominating the Russell Wilson trade

This is a thought I’ll save for another article. No, I don’t think it would’ve been beneficial for Wilson to still be Seattle’s quarterback. Yes, Seattle has gotten some potential blue chip players from the picks in the Wilson trade that gives them the advantage. No, I do not believe the trade is as lopsided as it was once perceived. Again, this will be an article for another day.

Final Notes

  • I’ve got nothing else. It’s 10:30 at night and I’ve been up all day watching football and prepping for this latest Seahawks stinker. I know I’ve got some oversights and have probably missed some things in my final analysis, but I’m spent. We’ve got another helping of blowout loss coming next week in Arlington. The only thing I’ll ask of the commenters is whether or not my slightly tongue-in-cheek “Could the Seahawks lose out?” statement from a few days back now looks a little less ludicrous given what we have witnessed over the past month. Again, not likely, but absolutely not unthinkable.