There is a way to beat the San Francisco 49ers. There has to be. They’ve lost three games this year. Despite all of the success under Kyle Shanahan, they’re yet to win a Super Bowl.
The way to beat them isn’t by giving up 9.9 yards per play. That is what the Seahawks ‘achieved’ on Sunday. Think about that. On average, the 49ers got a first down for every snap they took on offense.
As we’ve continued to highlight as the Seahawks plummet down the DVOA defensive rankings (they were 24th, they’ll surely drop again after this), this defense cost a fortune. The three second-round picks on edge rushers. The big money spent on Dre’Mont Jones, plus the return of Jarran Reed. The first round pick at linebacker, plus the re-signing of Bobby Wagner. A top-five pick at cornerback. Two safeties who cost a king’s ransom in salary, with one also costing a treasure-trove of picks.
Then, to cap things off, a future second rounder spent on a 10-game rental at defensive tackle.
The amount of resource used on the defense is virtually unmatched in the NFL. Yet against a common opponent who they play at least twice a year, they gave up 10-yards per play today.
That’s despite, by the way, the Head Coach admitting that San Francisco just played their normal game. There was nothing new. “They just executed better.”
This is where we are. The Seahawks know that in order to win the NFC West, they have to top the 49ers. Presumably they invest considerable time planning to beat them, with some of their roster moves designed to gain an upper-hand against divisional opponents.
They’ve spent so much to build a defense that isn’t just incapable of limiting the 49ers, they actually gave up 9.9 yards per snap.
The end result is the Seahawks have now been swept by the 49ers and Rams. They officially can’t win the NFC West this year. They’ve won one division title in seven years and as Field Gulls notes, it’s the worst stretch the Seahawks have had since returning to the division in 2002.
This all comes off the back of a shocking week, where Jamal Adams embarrassed himself (and the franchise) internationally. Having doubled down on his appalling actions last week, his follow-up was to give up some explosive plays in San Francisco. At one point ‘Yikes’ was trending on Twitter/X. He’s made the world root against him and thus, the Seahawks. Quite an achievement for $17.6m a year.
His partner in crime, Quandre Diggs, spends considerable time defending himself online. Whether it’s Madden ratings, PFF or a rogue pundit or two, he’s never short of a few words. Yet PFF’s 78th ranked safety (at least for now) was also guilty of a bad angle on one touchdown and nearly lost his cleats on a superb move by Deebo Samuel in another near-score.
The pair are becoming poster boys for all that is wrong in Seattle. Expensive, over-hyped, lacking in self-awareness.
They’re on the books next year for a combined $48.1m in cap money. How has that happened? When will the question be asked about how the team came to be in that position? It doesn’t matter if there are ways and means to save money by cutting both, that will come with consequences. At a minimum, even if you cut both players, $20.6m of your cap next year will be spent for them to go away.
Guess what? Myles Garrett’s cap hit next year is $20.1m. It’ll cost you more to cut Diggs and Adams and move on.
It’s high time someone in Seattle was quizzed on that fact. Furthermore, the Adams trade deserves greater scrutiny. Particularly given the week he’s just had. It’s been a disaster. An unmitigated disaster.
It’d be wrong just to focus on the two safeties though. Or, for that matter, the ageing legs of Bobby Wagner, the way Seattle just looked so slow and ponderous on defense once Devon Witherspoon left the field, the struggle to properly maximise the weapons on offense or other such trivialities. It’s Pete. That’s where the focus lies.
He’s had two go’s now at resetting the team. He fired both coordinators after 2017, moved on several big name defenders and started again. Then he fired two more coordinators and further reset the roster after the Russell Wilson trade.
The Seahawks are drifting further away from their main rivals (now 0-5 vs the 49ers and McVay’s had their number for years), they have no true identity, the defense has been bad for a number of years (consistently ranking in the 20’s per DVOA — an analytical system Carroll values and often cites), the offense does not resemble the vision he talks about (why spend two second round picks on running backs to not run the ball that much?) and off the field we’ve had unsavoury moments like last week with seemingly very little remorse from the culprit or repercussions from the team.
The roster isn’t young, as some claim. It has young players like all teams. Yet it has a veteran quarterback, veteran players dotted all over the offense and defense. It’s an expensive roster, in terms of players and picks. Yet the results are mediocre at best.
What, exactly, is the benefit of having Pete Carroll as the Seahawks coach at the moment?
I’m not trying to be tricky here. Can someone explain to me what the benefit is?
Right now I’m looking at a NFC West with two fantastic offensive minded coaches who are 4-0 against Carroll. I’m seeing one playoff win in six years, possibly extending to seven in a few weeks. I see little to be encouraged about in terms of scheming, results or development.
Increasingly I’m looking at a record where Carroll was 15-19 before Russell Wilson, 113-60-1 with Wilson and 15-16 since trading him. In other words, 30-35 when Carroll doesn’t have the peak LOB defense and Marshawn Lynch or Wilson’s best years.
Is another round of coordinator changes going to make any difference? If the Seahawks have to move on from Wagner, Adams and Diggs in the off-season, while potentially losing free agents Leonard Williams and Jordyn Brooks, is another reset of sorts on the cards? How many of these does Carroll get?
And if, as former NFL GM Randy Mueller suggested this week, bigger changes are required and aren’t aligned to the timeframe of a 72-year-old coach who needs to win now, isn’t it time to consider what, to many, was once considered unthinkable?
The Seahawks are not close. They are not getting closer.
“Don’t things run their course? Andy Reid once got fired in Philadelphia. Things just end. I watched Pete Carroll today and he has no answers, he’s had an incredible run, he resurrected the franchise, he gave them a competitiveness that they’ve not had. But it’s over.”
My fear is that what will actually happen is even more aggression in the off-season, with long-term planning thrown to the wolves in the desperation to rapidly improve with Carroll’s contract running out in 2025. The chances of such a situation working out are remote, unless you’re bringing in Tom Brady and his entourage as Tampa Bay did a few years ago.
I think Carroll, when he watches back the TV copy of the Niners game, will see that graphic Fox showed with Seattle’s record against the 49ers with Wilson and how they’re winless without him. I imagine him thinking about Jayden Daniels (for example) making the miraculous happen just as Wilson did and they’ll trade the farm to get him. Who knows how that works out but at least everyone will be excited, right up until the point the same issues keep emerging because the Seahawks are so schematically uncultured compared to their main NFC West foes.
Broader thinking is required. How do you top the 49ers and Rams? Probably by attacking them offensively in the way they so readily attack you and making the most of your weapons instead of struggling to maximise their talent. Probably by giving them something new to think about defensively, with younger and faster personnel working within the system. Probably by getting the future at quarterback in place and pairing him with your own version of Shanahan and McVay, whoever that may be, rather than relying on the man Carroll decides will be offensive coordinator next year.
In trying to achieve all of this, you might fail. But failure feels inevitable if we don’t change.
It’s time for a broader discussion to occur online and on-air about what’s best for the Seahawks.
Oh, by the way, the Seahawks currently have the #13 overall pick (the pick they’re sending to the Giants, at the moment, is #44).
And if you missed our post-game stream check it out here: