Takeaways from Seahawks 28-16 loss to 49ers

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 10: Deebo Samuel #19 of the San Francisco 49ers scores a touchdown during the third quarter in the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on December 10, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thear

For the first time in 14 years with Pete Carroll as head coach, the Seattle Seahawks have lost four straight games.

The San Francisco 49ers gashed the Seattle defense with big play after big play, and the Seahawks offense was unable to keep pace as Drew Lock made his first start for the team in place of an injured Geno Smith.

Brock Purdy passed for 368 yards and two touchdowns, Christian McCaffrey had 145 yards on the ground, and Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk each posted 100-yard receiving games as the 49ers offense sliced through Seattle’s defense repeatedly in a 28-16 San Francisco win.

The 49ers finished with 527 yards on total offense. It’s the second time this year the Seahawks had allowed over 500 yards of total offense. The Baltimore Ravens racked up 515 yards in their 37-3 win over Seattle in early November. It’s the 15th time in total during the Carroll era the Seahawks have allowed at least 500 yards on total offense to an opponent.

"We came in here buckled up, ready to go to play these guys and we just got big played by their guys on offense too many times to win the game today," head coach Pete Carroll said. "…. Too many explosive plays to hold these guys in check."

Lock completed 22-of-31 passes for 269 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions on the day in a perfectly adequate performance. However, the 49ers held Seattle to just 70 yards rushing on 20 carries and limited the Seahawks to just 2-of-11 on third down.

The road doesn’t get any easier for Seattle as the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles come to town on Monday night next week. This part of the season was always going to be a gauntlet for the Seahawks and they’ve gone 0-for-4 against the Los Angeles Rams, 49ers, Dallas Cowboys and 49ers again. The Seahawks are now under .500 at 6-7 on the year and will lose any tiebreakers with the Rams due to losing both games to them head-to-head this season.

The Seahawks are in big, big trouble.

Here are the takeaways from the loss to the 49ers:

– Seahawks defense couldn’t stop the big-play power of the 49ers.

The Seahawks defense didn’t get lit up on every play, but when the 49ers found a chance to create something they fully took advantage.

San Francisco had eight plays of at least 25 yards on the day against the Seahawks’ defense on Sunday. Of the 527 yards gained by the 49ers overall on the day, 322 yards came on those eight plays alone. Add in two more plays allowed of 23 and 20 yards each and the Seahawks just couldn't keep the 49ers offense from lighting them up.

"We didn't execute right today," Carroll said. "We gave them big plays. Certainly they had to throw and catch it, but those plays should not have happened to us. ... They shouldn't even have thrown those balls. We should have been back there and [Purdy] throws to somebody else."

The Seattle defense had its moments. They forced consecutive three-and-outs and intercepted Purdy on a throw off the hands of a diving Aiyuk in the first quarter. Seattle out-gained the 49ers by a 128-39 margin after McCaffrey's 72-yard run on the first play from scrimmage of the game. But when the defense did crack, the fissures were enormous.

And it had Carroll aggravated after the game because these are things he believes they have been able to handle correctly.

"They were almost like gifts in a sense because of the things that we practiced. .... We practiced the dog out of that stuff and we just didn't see it and react to it properly," he said. "We bit up on a play fake on 2nd-and-9, and these guys don't run the football in that situation and there goes Kittle. It's bad ball and we have to be better than that."

That specific play was Julian Love biting hard on the run action, which allowed a 44-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to Kittle early in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. (Eds Note: Pete Carroll indicated on Monday that Riq Woolen had the responsibility of being deep on the play and was the one at fault for the breakdown.)

"I’ve been on less talented defenses that’s been more technique-sound and more in tune to what’s going on," safety Quandre Diggs said. "It’s cool to be talented. But, I’ve played this game a long time, not by being talented. I’ve played this game by being consistent in my approach and what I do each and every week. At some point we got to learn from mistakes and go from there." 

It's not the only one, however. Samuel raced by safety Jamal Adams for a 54-yard touchdown that gave the 49ers a 14-10 lead. Purdy was able to extend a play outside of the pocket to deliver a 45-yard strike to Aiyuk the sparked another touchdown drive capped by a 1-yard Samuel run.

Every time the 49ers scored, a big play was primarily responsible. None of the plays where anything Carroll didn't expect to see from the 49ers. It was their players not doing what was needed to slow them down.

"They had a toss sweep that went for 70 yards. That’s their favorite play. We've been practicing against it the whole time, that's what I mean by that," Carroll said. "There was nothing special about them running Deebo on a deep crosser. He's been doing that his whole career and we saw it and we didn't play it right. We gave it to them. Kittle in short yardage, on a play-action pass, their heavy personnel, he's been doing that for his whole career. There was nothing new about those things. We didn't execute well enough to stop those opportunities. That's the stuff we practiced and we needed to come through and make those plays. We didn't do it."

– Drew Lock played a solid game in place of Geno Smith.

In his first start in two years in Seattle, Drew Lock did perfectly fine and what you'd expect of a backup quarterback in a spot start.

With Geno Smith out with a groin injury sustained in practice this week, Lock took to the field with the Seahawks already in a 7-0 hole against a 49ers team that hammered them just two weeks prior. But Lock was up to the task and marched the team 75 yards for a score to answer on a 31-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf.

I thought he did a great job right from the beginning of the opening drive, it was beautiful," Carroll said. "That's a really good sign for Drew, it wasn't too big for him in any way. He wasn't too nervous, he wasn't jittery at all. He came right down the field and threw a great ball to DK to get us in the end zone. And throughout the game, his calm on the sidelines, his ability to communicate about what was going on and how to adjust, and the things that were coming up in the next sequence and the next series, he was on it. He was a real pro about it. So he did a really good job."

It was Lock's first touchdown since a 34-13 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers while with the Denver Broncos in Week 17 of the 2021 season.

"It felt good to finally be back out there," Lock said. "I know the results weren’t what we wanted but it had been a while since I had gone out there and done that and it felt really good."

Lock added a second touchdown pass to Colby Parkinson on a 24-yard score that was a direct copy of a touchdown Kittle scored on against the Seahawks in Seattle last season.

Lock was intercepted twice in the game. The second one was a fourth down play late in the game where his hand was hit as he threw the pass which resulted in the ball deflecting high into the air for a Fred Warner interception. However, on the first one, Lock said he needed to throw better. The pass was too far to the inside of the field and allowed Ji'Ayir Brown to pick it off.

Lock didn't get much help from either the defense or his rushing attack. Ken Walker III and Zach Charbonnet combined for just 65 yards on 17 combined carries. Charbonnet had consecutive runs of 23 yards in the first quarter on Seatte's field goal drive that gave them a 10-7 lead. However, despite gaining 46 yards on those two carries, Charbonnet finished with -2 yards on his other seven attempts combined.  

Carroll said that Smith tried to get ready to play but couldn't move the way he needed to due to the groin injury.

"He came out early today and went through an extensive workout," Carroll said. "He got a lot of stuff done under control, but he didn't have it. He didn't have the ability to push in one direction. That's classic for a groin injury. It wasn't the right thing to do to just throw him out there under those circumstances. He didn't call it off. He made me call him off, he wanted to go."

The 49ers might very well be the best team in the NFL right now and Lock mostly held his own in the performance. It was a good boost of confidence for Lock.

"That I can still play football," Lock said of what the gave showed him. "I can still go out there and do it. It had been a while since I’ve started a game. I can be confident in my legs, confident in the deep ball, confident in just dropping back and living in the pocket. It’s just confident that I am an NFL quarterback."

– Seahawks are now out of the playoff picture with four games remaining.

This midseason stretch for the Seahawks was always going to be what defined their season. A 6-3 start to the year seemingly gave the team plenty of margin for error as they headed into the five-game gauntlet of the Rams, 49ers, Cowboys and Eagles.

But with four straight losses, that margin is completely gone, the team is out of the playoff picture, and the team may need to win all four of their remaining games to find their way into the playoffs.

"All you have is four games left and regardless of whatever happens, you have to be able to finish strong," said Tyler Lockett, who had six receptions for 89 yards. "You have to be able to continue to play at a high level and understand that there's going to be a lot of ups and downs. I've been here long enough to understand that once things start rolling, it starts rolling, and great things start happening."

The turning point of the year could very well be the 17-16 loss to the Rams that kicked off the losing streak. The Seahawks built a 13-0 lead with five minutes left in the first half, and held a 16-7 lead into the fourth quarter only to give up two late L.A. scores that turned the result.

The loss to the Rams felt very similar to a 17-14 loss to Washington in Week 9 of the 2017 season. Seattle took a 14-10 lead with 1:34 left to play, but was unable to hold the game as two deep passes from Kirk Cousins to Brian Quick and Josh Doctson set up a game-winning touchdown. The loss to an eventual 7-9 Washington team kept the Seahawks out of the playoffs by one game at the end of the year.

The Rams aren't a great team either, though they've beat the Seahawks in both matchups this season. Seattle is now tied with the Rams (though they lose the tiebreaker), Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints a half-game back of the Green Bay Packers for the final playoff spot.

"We're going against one of the best teams in the NFC this next week," Carroll said. "This is the challenging portion of this season. We're going to see if we can make it through it. The fourth quarter of this season is still there for us to do something with it and we'll see if we can. I believe these guys are going to bounce back and be ready to go again. It’s a Monday night and at home, and we've got to get ready and have a great week of preparation to do that and see if we can get a game. We’ve got to get back on track because this losing thing sucks."

After the Eagles game next Monday night, the Seahawks head to face the Tennessee Titans, play their final home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and end the regular season at the Arizona Cardinals.