NFL Playoffs 2023: Winners & Losers of 49ers 41, Seahawks 23

The Seattle Seahawks’ first loss of the season was to the San Francisco 49ers, the loss that confirmed they would not win the NFC West came to 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 for 180 minutes is an inferior roster in the midst of restructuring, beaten by a team with an elite roster and an A+ offensive plan.

I felt no pain or anger from this loss in the playoffs, as I did with just about every post-season loss in the Russell Wilson era. Even when the game was close, I was pleased with the fact that they were competitive even for as long as they were. This felt more like the Seahawks of 2010 when they were crushed by the Chicago Bears in a blizzard, but the way the season unfolded gave hope that things would turn for the better. Seattle desperately needed a franchise quarterback that year… maybe they have one now? And anyway, there are a lot of parts for this team to get great again.

Another winners and losers of the year.


winners

DK Metcalf

After back-to-back quiet games in win-win situations, Metcalf was out today. He finished with 10 catches for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns, albeit part of that in waste 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 played just four playoff games, but he’s already making his mark on NFL history.

Metcalf was excellent and that’s what he can be at his best and when used right.

Kenneth Walker III

For whatever reason, Walker wasn’t used much in the 2nd half and I suspect he was injured. Otherwise we saw way too much DeeJay Dallas. Walker finished with 63 yards on 15 carries and a rushing touchdown, and he was physical and fought hard for extra yards all game long. Those may not be huge numbers, but corrected for an excellent running defense that was much better than expected.

Jason Myers

No misses, and he scored a 56-yard field goal just before halftime, giving the Seahawks the lead. It will be interesting to see if he will be retained as a free agent this season after missing just four kicks all year.

Uchenna Nwosu

The only Seahawks defensive player to deserve praise today. He had three tackles for loss against the run, and had one of a whopping three QB hits the Seahawks hit off Brock Purdy. He’s been a great asset and I hope the Seahawks can improve the passing rush even further and really make him feast.

1st Half Geno Smith

9/10 for 104 yards and a beautiful touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. He also scrambled for a 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 everyone involved in this Seahawks defense

The Seahawks defense saved the season by knocking out the New York Jets and Los Angeles Rams. Those violations stink. The 49ers offense scored on all but two possessions and one of them was knee time. Seattle ranked fifth in EPA/play and that’s with a very soft schedule for much of the season.

It was a comically awkward display in which almost nothing went right. If Brock Purdy wasn’t throwing the occasional wayward ball without applying pressure, this could have been an all-timer of a beating. They did absolutely nothing right, apart from a few runs. Clint Hurtt’s job is probably safe, as are his assistants, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something changes on the defensive side of the ball at some level.

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

I think you can argue that the promise of Woolen, Coby Bryant and Boye Mafe is reason to believe that Pete can fix other parts of the defense and they’ll be great again soon. I don’t know if it’s 100% a scheduling issue. Seattle needs to work hard on this defense, but perhaps the best way for them to compete is a top-3 offense so they can overcome a terrible defense more often than they currently do.

Cody Barton

Wow. I’ve praised Barton for his improved play in recent weeks, but that was the reality check against an elite attack. That was one of the worst games I’ve ever seen from a linebacker. Missed tackles, bad angles, too slow to chase ball carriers, and the piss de resistance was that absurd play where he basically tackled Tariq Woolen instead of Deebo Samuel in a critical third. Linebacker depth is needed. Bad.

Tariq Woolen

I’m sure New York Jets fans, unable to witness a playoff game as usual, were ecstatic to see Woolen play the worst game of his young career. He was often bullied, whether in zone or man coverage, and crossing routes remains a problem for him. The dagger was that action deep ball to Jauan Jennings, which swung Woolen out and Quandre Diggs couldn’t get to the throw in time. It’s still been a phenomenal year for Woolen and the best is yet to come, but Kyle Shanahan has essentially made him a liability.

Coby Bryant

Tackling drills for Coby this off-season. A lot of it. The same probably goes for Michael Jackson, but Bryant thinks he has the long-term future on the team, and for all we know, Seattle could consider moving Coby out and letting someone else work in the slot.

Jonathan Abraham

Abram didn’t twist Deebo Samuel’s leg like it was made on the FOX broadcast, but he grabbed it needlessly anyway, which was inappropriate. Flip the teams and I think we’d be livid if that happened to the likes of Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf. It looks like that started a fire among the 49ers.

Damien Lewis

You can complain about illegal man downfield punishments and whether they should be called to the letter of the law, but he committed three and at least one of them seemed legit. He had a play where he obviously fouled, the 49ers saw it and pointed, when the ball was snapped, Lewis was still at stance and it destroyed a run play. It’s been a solid season for Lewis, but he really fell apart after the break.

Geno Smith 2nd half

I thought Geno was good in the 2nd half until the turnover. The interception is whatever, as it was 38-17 and the game was pretty much over. That fumble killed any chance of a comeback and it couldn’t have come at the worst time. Smith had 11 turnovers after the bye week and an overwhelming majority of his giveaways led to runs against. I think Geno will stay in Seattle next season, but the ball security needs to be better – Pete has had several freakouts in the past about turnover issues with quarterbacks. All things considered, I’m still impressed with how Geno’s season has turned out and have a lot of respect for how he’s turned his career around.

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

Latest notes

  • Shane Waldron called a good game without the bizarre DeeJay that Dallas carries. Six was too much against that defense. Sometimes the other team is just downright better and the 49ers defense is a nightmare against this Seahawks roster. The offensive line held up much better than I thought they would compared to the previous two appearances.
  • Tyler Lockett was strictly a possession receiver and as such his 6 catches are for just 39 yards. Of course he got one way after the first Damien Lewis unqualified man downfield penalty looming large.
  • Bruce Irvin was sacked and made one TFL against the run, but the 49ers took full advantage of him. Thank you for everything, Bruce. It’s time for the next generation to take their turn.
  • Thank you to everyone for making it another huge season for gulls. We had excellent site traffic during the best part of Seattle’s winning run, so much so that we had fan shots that popped out like the good old days. This is my third season as Field Gulls Site Manager and first season in a full-time position, and while I would have liked the playoffs to have lasted a bit longer, we got the best of both worlds with the Seahawks’ wins and the losing to the Denver Broncos. Now we’ve got some pretty damn important NFL Draft coverage that could make or break this franchise for years to come, and you better believe we’ll have extensive coverage over the next several months through the last week of April.

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