NFL Playoffs 2023: Winners and Losers from 49ers 41, Seahawks 23

The Seattle Seahawks’ first loss of the season came against the San Francisco 49ers, the loss that confirmed they wouldn’t win the NFC West came against the 49ers, and their final loss of the season is at the hands of the 49ers. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but what we saw over 180 minutes is an inferior roster that’s in the middle of a restructure get thumped by a team with an elite roster and an A+ offensive scheme.

I didn’t feel any pain or anger out of this playoff loss like I did just about every postseason defeat in the Russell Wilson era. Even when the game was close I was satisfied with the fact that they were even competitive for as long as they were. This felt more like the 2010 Seahawks when they were crushed by the Chicago Bears in a snowstorm, but the way the season unfolded provided hope that things were turning for the better. Seattle badly needed a franchise quarterback that year… maybe they have one right now? And either way, there are a lot of pieces in place for this team to be great once more.

One more winners and losers for the year.


winners

DK Metcalf

After consecutive quiet games in must-win situations, Metcalf balled out today. He finished with 10 catches for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, albeit some of that in garbage time but when the game was still close he had 6 catches for over 100 yards and that 50-yard TD over Charvarius Ward. Metcalf has only played four playoff games but he is already leaving his mark on NFL history.

Metcalf was outstanding and that’s what he can be at his best and when he is utilized properly.

Kenneth Walker III

For whatever reason, Walker wasn’t used a lot in the 2nd half and I suspect he was nursing an injury. Otherwise we saw far too much DeeJay Dallas. Walker finished with 63 yards on 15 carries and a rushing touchdown, and he was physical and fighting hard for extra yards the whole game. Those may not be tremendous numbers but adjusting for an outstanding run defense, that was much better than expected.

Jason Myers

No misses, and he nailed a 56-yard field goal right before halftime that gave the Seahawks the lead. It’ll be interesting to see if he will be retained this season as a free agent after missing only four kicks all year.

Uchenna Nwosu

The only Seahawks defensive player who deserves praise today. He had three tackles for loss against the run, and had one of the whopping three QB hits the Seahawks managed on Brock Purdy. He’s been a superb signing and I hope that the Seahawks can improve the pass rush even further and really allow him to feast.

1st Half Geno Smith

9/10 for 104 yards and a gorgeous touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. He also scrambled for one first down and another scramble yielded a penalty that led to a field goal. Against that 49ers defense you take what you get and

losers

Pete Carroll, Clint Hurtt, and anyone else associated with this Seahawks defense

The Seahawks defense saved the season by shutting down the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams. Those offenses stink. The 49ers offense scored on all but two possessions and one of them was kneeldown time. Seattle was bottom-5 in EPA/play and that’s with a real soft schedule for much of the season.

It was a comically inept display in which almost nothing went right. If Brock Purdy wasn’t throwing the occasional wayward ball without pressure then this could’ve been an all-timer of a beating. They did absolutely nothing well outside of a few run stuffs. Clint Hurtt’s job is probably safe, as are his assistants, but I wouldn’t be shocked if a change is made at some level of the defensive side of the ball.

We’re essentially five seasons post-LOB and I don’t see the vision for Pete Carroll ever assembling a top-10 defense again. They’ve invested so much draft capital through the Jamal Adams trade, the Jadeveon Clowney trade, the Sheldon Richardson trade, taking LJ Collier, Marquise Blair, Cody Barton, Lano Hill, Tedric Thompson, and a host of other moves that have contributed to this predicament. We’ve had three defensive coordinators from 2017 to present day. The one constant is Pete, who’s had more positives than negatives for me as a coach this year but this one big negative has killed the team year after year.

I guess you can argue the promise shown by Woolen, Coby Bryant, and Boye Mafe is reason to believe Pete can solve other parts of the defense and they will be great again soon. I don’t know if it’s 100% a roster issue. Seattle needs to work on this defense heavily but maybe the best way for them to contend is have a top-3 offense such that they can overcome awful defense more often than they currently do.

Cody Barton

Wow. I’ve been praising Barton for improved play in recent weeks but that was the reality check against an elite offense. That was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen out of a linebacker. Missed tackles, bad angles, too slow to pursue ballcarriers, and the piss de resistance was that absurd play in which he basically tackled Tariq Woolen instead of Deebo Samuel on a critical 3rd down. Linebacker depth is needed. Badly.

Tariq Woolen

I’m sure New York Jets fans, unable to experience a playoff game per usual, were ecstatic watching Woolen have the worst game of his young career. He was getting picked on frequently whether in zone or man coverage, and crossing routes continue to be an issue for him. The dagger was that play-action deep ball to Jauan Jennings, which caught out Woolen out and Quandre Diggs couldn’t get to the throw in time. It’s still a phenomenal year for Woolen and the best is yet to come, but Kyle Shanahan basically schemed him into being a liability.

Coby Bryant

Tackling drills for Coby this offseason. Lots of it. Same probably applies to Michael Jackson but Bryant figures to have the long-term future on the team, and for all we know Seattle might consider moving Coby to the outside and letting someone else work in the slot.

Jonathan Abram

Abram didn’t twist Deebo Samuel’s leg like it was made out to be on the FOX broadcast, but he still needlessly grabbed it and that was uncalled for. Flip the teams and I think we’d be livid if that happened to, say, Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf. It seems as if that lit a fire under the 49ers.

Damian Lewis

You can bemoan the ticky-tack illegal man downfield penalties and whether they should be called to the letter of the law, but he committed three of them and at least one of them seemed legit. He had a play where he obviously started false, the 49ers saw it and pointed, then when the ball was snapped Lewis was still in his stance and it destroyed a run play. It has been a solid season for Lewis but he really unraved after halftime.

2nd Half Geno Smith

I thought Geno was fine in the 2nd half up until the turnovers. The interception is whatever because it was 38-17 and the game was pretty much up. That fumble killed any chance at a comeback and that couldn’t have come at a worst time. Smith had 11 turnovers after the bye week and an overwhelming bulk of his giveaways led to opposition points. I think Geno stays in Seattle next season but ball security has to be better—-Pete’s already had multiple freakouts over turnover issues with quarterbacks in the past. All things considered, I’m still wowed by how Geno’s season went and have much respect for how he’s turned his career around.

It’s fair to ask if 2023 Geno can be any better than 2022 Geno. Can the Seahawks get a QB who will be better than 2022 Geno in 2023? Maybe but it’s not likely a rookie will just immediately play like a top-12 guy out of the gate. Can the Seahawks get a QB who will project to eventually be better than the best version of Geno? Possibly, but that’s another discussion as to if/when they take a QB later this year.

Final Notes

  • Shane Waldron called a good game sans the bizarre DeeJay Dallas carries. Six was too many against that defense. Sometimes the other team is just flat out better and the 49ers defense is a nightmare matchup against this Seahawks roster. The offensive line held up a lot better than I thought they would compared to the previous two outings.
  • Tyler Lockett was strictly a possession receiver and as such his 6 catches for only 39 yards. Of course, he had one taken away on the first Damien Lewis ineligible man downfield penalty that loomed large.
  • Bruce Irvin got a sack and made one TFL against the run but the 49ers exploited him aplenty. Thanks for everything Bruce. It’s time for the new generation to get their turn.
  • Thanks to everyone for making this another huge season for Field Gulls. We had some outstanding site traffic during the best part of Seattle’s winning run, so much so that we had fanshots popping off like the good ol’ days. This is my third season as Field Gulls Site Manager and first season in a full-time role, and while I would’ve loved for the playoff run to last a little while longer, we got the best of both worlds with the wins by the Seahawks and the losses by the Denver Broncos. Now we’ve got a pretty damn important NFL draft cover that could make or break this franchise for years to come, and you better believe we’ll have comprehensive coverage over the next few months leading up to the final week of April.

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