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Seahawks-49ers: 5 points about the game
I never spoil game results in the beginning of a Seaside Joe post-game reaction: 1/14/2023
Pete Carroll never treated the Seahawks’ wild card game against the San Francisco 49ers as anything other than one football team testing their will and strengths against another football team. That’s how Carroll prepares for every football game he’s ever coached and terms like “underdog” and “favorite” carry no meaning for him. This approach has gotten him through 50 seasons of coaching football in some capacity, 17 seasons in the NFL, almost a decade at the highest levels of college, and resulted in 12 playoff appearances, one national championship, and one Super Bowl.
His philosophies work.
But on Saturday, the Seahawks were nevertheless outmatched. Out-willed. And out-strengthed. Pete Carroll doesn’t believe in underdogs, but against the 49ers in the wild card game that’s what Seattle looked like, especially in the fourth quarter as San Francisco bullied them for a 41-23 victory to end the Seahawks season.
I’m still grateful that Pete gave fans 18 Seahawks games that mattered this season, when few people predicted that Seattle could even have eight games that mattered.
I’ll make today’s takeaways quicker than usual because we have plenty of time to cover how the season ended and what needs to change in the offseason. Please-please-please don’t unsubscribe just because the season is officially over, the offseason is going to be INTENSE, INSANE, and IN-COVERAGE AT SEASIDE JOE. Best draft coverage for the team with the most draft capital in the NFL:
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Geno’s last audition
I covered Ian Rapoport’s report before the game that the Seahawks want to do what it takes to keep Geno Smith, including the franchise tag, and I wouldn’t even say that the reaction is “mixed” at Seaside Joe; the majority of you are dissatisfied with the idea of paying Geno a salary north of $30 million next season and/or beyond. Fox’s Jay Glazer reiterated after the game that he also expects Seattle to keep Geno Smith.
My write-ups like the one this morning are simply an evaluation of what could happen based on history and not endorsements or “what I would do” so I want to make sure that’s clear. I’d also say that if you think Jay Glazer is bad at his job, you’re extremely wrong.
HOWEVER—the Seahawks have to evaluate what just happened in Santa Clara too and just because Seattle would prefer to keep Geno Smith, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t shopping for upgrades. I can see the argument for tagging a quarterback who had some promising moments during the season when your team plays in a conference with no star quarterbacks.
But I also see no downside to letting other teams think that you’re going to franchise tag Geno and that he’s worth a big contract. So let’s keep our composure and see what happens because there is still two months until free agency.
It was mentioned in the Seaside Threads game chat that Geno Smith is a capable and serviceable quarterback on the level of Kirk Cousins, which I’ve agreed with for a long time. What I am also very clear about is that I’m a firm believer in always looking until you have a top-five quarterback, not a serviceable and capable quarterback. I think Seattle’s best bet with the number five pick is to either push all-in for a quarterback prospect if they love one of them or to trade down, if they don’t.
How did Geno’s last audition ultimately go? If not for the first (of THREE) Damien Lewis ineligible downfield penalties (I’m still stunned that the broadcast crew didn’t say his name one time), Geno might have even given the Seahawks a lead going into the fourth quarter. We could be having a different conversation right now.
But Damien did, Geno didn’t, and this is the conversation we’re having.
And Damien did. And Damien did.
Actually, Pete, the tackling never got better
One thing that Pete Carroll got wrong this season is that he said that the tackling would get better after the preseason games. It didn’t. From training camp practices to the playoffs, the Seahawks were one of the worst tackling teams in Carroll’s entire tenure, if not the worst. I don’t know how many missed tackles Seattle had on Saturday, but I know that it felt like it was in the thousands.
Sure tackling is a strength of Jordyn Brooks and he was out, but we don’t even know if Brooks will be ready to return by September.
The tackling was atrocious on every level. That has to be fixed and we’ve known that it’s been an issue for the last six months.
Is this the big game that Uchenna Nwosu needed?
Nwosu was one of the bright spots on the defense, finishing with three huge tackles for a loss. However, Nwosu has not been an elite pass rusher (2.5 sacks in the last nine games, all against the L.A. Rams, who had the worst offensive line in the NFL) since the first half of the season. We didn’t even hear Darrell Taylor’s name called on Saturday either.
I would not extend Nwosu at this time. The Seahawks finished with one sack and it came from Bruce Irvin, a name we would not even be hearing today if Seattle had done a better job of building their front-seven in the last two years.
Rushing and disrupting the passer is important, just ask Nick Bosa and the 49ers. The Seahawks do not have a lot of reasons to feel comfortable with Nwosu, Taylor, Boye Mafe going into the offseason and that’s one argument for trying to get Will Anderson in the draft—or drafting an edge rusher with perhaps the other first round pick.
DK Metcalf should carry this into next year
Metcalf had 10 catches for 136 yards, which is more than half of Geno’s total passing yards. Tyler Lockett had six for 39 and a drop, Cade Johnson had three for 39. Edge rusher and quarterback aren’t the only major needs at a key position.
The Seahawks must find some new weapons to build around DK Metcalf, coming off of the best game of his career against a very good cornerback.
Ryan Neal starting in 2023?
Seattle got Ryan Neal back on Saturday and my immediate reaction is that I’m not sure how he played, but he led the team with 10 tackles. There were mixed answers as to how players like Cody Barton and Neal played this season, with some saying that they’re good-to-great and others saying they’re replaceable. With Barton, the Seahawks have to make a decision.
But with Neal, he will be back, as he’s a restricted free agent.
I think the Seahawks could start Quandre Diggs and Neal in 2023, then potentially place Jamal Adams in the box as a third safety/linebacker near the line of scrimmage. Seattle could trade Adams, but they are not likely to get many calls for a safety who missed the entire season and costs $11 million. Plus, the Seahawks don’t save any money by trading Adams.
If it’s money they’re after, Seattle could cut Adams with a post-June 1 and save $11 million in 2023. They’d have to carry dead money into 2024, but if they Seahawks need immediate cap space, that’s a choice they could make. But Diggs-Neal-Adams could make for a great safety trio and depth wouldn’t hurt.