Well, that was hard to watch.
It’s certainly true that the 49ers have a very good roster that are a tough opponent for anyone. This was always going to be a big challenge for a slumping Seahawks team.
That said, the Niners came to Seattle without Deebo Samuel. Javon Kinlaw and Jason Verrett are on injured reserve. They’re onto their third quarterback — an undrafted rookie playing in his first road game.
This was also a do-or-die night for the Seahawks. The division would be lost. The playoff chances would take a massive hit. They had to bring their A-game, gather together and find a way.
What we saw, however, was the complete opposite.
As has been the case for weeks now, the Seahawks looked unprepared for this contest. On offense they started with a bunch of three-and-outs. Defensively it felt like they were clinging on throughout.
The close scoreline — 21-13 — barely tells the story.
Before half-time Seattle delivered a comedy of errors so bad it would’ve been fitting to play the circus march in the background. Quandre Diggs drops an easy interception. Travis Homer fumbles the ball on offense. The Niners punch in a touchdown.
Then to make matters worse — at the start of the third quarter, an appalling piece of coverage by the defense to leave George Kittle of all people wide open downfield. A disgusting attempted tackle by Diggs. A massive, back-breaking touchdown to effectively end the game as a contest.
It’s week 15. The plan for a new defensive scheme has gone so badly that it appears the players still don’t know what they’re doing. How can something as basic as the linebacker carrying one of San Francisco’s best players downfield be an issue at this stage, in a game of this importance?
We’ve been talking about Diggs for weeks and this really should be the exclamation point on his future. You cannot pay him $18m next season. It’s as simple as that.
He’s not the only mistake that needs reversing though. They need to get rid of this scheme. I don’t want to see a war-chest of picks pumped into this system.
Before they appointed Sean Desai and Clint Hurtt — Pete Carroll was busy recruiting old pal Ed Donatell. The Vikings have more talent on defense and guess what? The fans and media are trying to run Donatell out of town because they are failing badly on that side of the ball, undermining the offensive production.
Throwing rookies into a system that the likes of Jordyn Brooks seem to be struggling with isn’t the answer. I’ve seen enough. This isn’t the system to build around. It’s too easy to play against, too easy to run against and creates no pressure. Move on.
And no — there isn’t going to be anyone available at #2 or #3 in the 2023 draft who can do what Nick Bosa did today. Sadly.
It’s not just the defense though. The offense didn’t really seem to have any idea how to combat the challenge of the Niners’ defense. The running game was again non-existent. Days after admitting he’s been too aggressive recently — Geno Smith was back to mixing in some nice passes with some ‘oh no…’ throws. He was massively fortunate that a pick-six was called back at the start of the second half on a dubious roughing penalty and was lucky on some other throws that could’ve been snared.
Smith is really the only shining light though — along with the two key receivers (when they aren’t collecting dumb taunting penalties). No quarterback can thrive with no help and no protection. The rookie tackles struggled. They can’t run to save their lives. It’s tough to watch.
The playoff dream is unravelling, as is any real feel good factor from this season. The warm glow of the unexpected is disappearing. They’re 1-4 in the last five with the only win a closer-than-it-should’ve-been win in LA.
The Seahawks have seven wins, with hindsight, against a bunch of bad teams. Two wins against the Cardinals, a win against Denver, a win against the Rams’ backups. They were lucky enough to play Detroit without key players before they got hot. The Giants are imploding in a similar way to the Seahawks.
Perhaps it is still possible to say we never expected to be 7-7 at this point. But in the context of how their schedule has turned out — and how the NFC West has folded with the exception of San Francisco — is it really that much of an achievement any more? Do the Arizona, Rams and Broncos wins really give you much optimism for the future?
The Lions are 6-7 with a loaded strength of schedule at .552. The Commanders (.543) and Giants (.552) are in the same boat.
Seattle’s strength of schedule is .450. That’s a big difference.
The Seahawks are also 3-4 at home this season and 23-16 at Lumen Field since 2018. That’s a topic few people seem to want to embrace. Remember — that 23-16 record also includes a 7-1 record in 2020 when the games were played without fans due to Covid. So since 2018, with fans in the stadium, the Seahawks are 16-15 at home.
Right now it’s difficult to invest faith in the defense without major structural and schematic work. They don’t have the cap space to splurge because a lot of it is committed to players like Diggs, Jamal Adams and the defensive linemen currently on the roster.
I don’t want to watch this team in the playoffs. It would be a futile exercise and might simply mean another crushing loss to the Niners as a bad seventh seed.
They’ll be 7-8 when they lose to the Chiefs on Christmas Eve (what a game to have to face next). They might as well save themselves the bother of a playoff one-and-done and have a better draft pick in each round. Not that the Seahawks will see it that way, or should think that way. But we can. We can be honest about it.
Perhaps of more pressing concern is the total lack of identity this team has and the inability of the coaches to fix problems.
We’re watching Kyle Shanahan’s offense basically just run through quarterbacks and they don’t miss a beat. For the Seahawks, their defensive staff (including the Head Coach) can’t even get the players to avoid blown coverages against a key tight end.
How many more years of bad defense and an inconsistent running game are we going to see? Especially when the clearly defined identity calls for both to be the focal point of the team?
Another 172 rushing yards given up tonight, compared to Seattle’s paltry 70 yards.
In many ways the 2022 Seahawks feel a lot like the 2018-2020 Seahawks. Then, they were carried by the quarterback. Now, they’re carried by a different quarterback.
It’s not supposed to be this way. How long are we going to keep ignoring that?