Seahawks coach Pete Carroll met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 26-23 overtime loss in Week 15 to the San Francisco 49ers and what he saw on what was admittedly “hard film to watch.”
“We just feel bad that we missed one down there in Santa Clara,” he said. “It’s amazing, the way the numbers matchup for us. The more we look at it, the more unusual it was to see us come out with the ball turnover-wise, not turning the thing over, hit a bunch of numbers just in the same fashion we have been doing for some time and winning with it. Not getting the win for the day, what was drastically different was the penalty situation, that we just gave them too many opportunities and put ourselves in too many bad situations. That had the impact on the game that was close. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to get cranking and get going again. We had a good session today. Tried to learn from the lessons and all of the penalty things are correctable. We can fix those. We need to do it and we just have to get that done so everybody understands that. It’s really clear. If you give anybody that much, it makes it easy for them and we kind of did that.”
In addition to a handful of injury updates, here are five things we learned from Carroll’s Monday press conference.
1. The late-game penalties were particularly disappointing.
The Seahawks committed 14 penalties for 148 penalty yards, the highest penalty-yardage total in team history, and that was obviously a huge factor in Sunday’s loss. Particularly frustrating to Carroll was that a lot of those penalties came at crucial moments late in the game, including holds on each of Seattle’s final offensive possessions, a block in the back on special teams prior to a fourth-quarter possession, and a defensive pass-interference call that aided San Francisco’s game-winning drive.
“Really disappointed in that, because that’s about finishing and doing right. It just didn’t happen,” he said. “That’s too bad, because we’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of emphasis in trying to finish games by doing the right things instead of that kind of stuff happening because that’s what can occur. It was really clear to these guys and everybody felt bad about their part in it, coaches too. We’ll try to get it cleaned up this week.”
Up until Sunday’s loss, the Seahawks had been a lot better in keeping penalty numbers down, which was a big focus for Carroll and his staff following a 2017 season in which the Seahawks led the league in penalties.
“Really, we just coach to it as much as we can and educate them as much as you can about what is OK and what isn’t,” Carroll said. “Try to stay abreast of the league as the league adjusts in how they’re calling things and adapt to that. Make all of the regular, old style football coaching points about guys running for penalties and things at practice that are just kind of the reminder punishment things that we’re always trying to toe the line. I think things changed a little bit in the second half. We had 10 penalties in the second half. I don’t know how that happened but it did. We’ve got to make sure that we’re not trying too hard and overdoing it and just believe in what we’re doing and stay with it. Sometimes that can get you.”
2. Chris Carson’s touchdown run was one of Carroll’s favorite moments in the game.
With the Seahawks needing a touchdown to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Carroll elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, and when Chris Carson took the handoff, it momentarily looked like Carson was going to get stopped. But thanks to impressive second and third efforts—and a little help from left tackle Duane Brown—Carson eventually fought his way into the end zone.
“It was a great one,” Carroll said. “That was a great one. Already in his short time, he has had a number of great finishes at the goal line. He finishes everything, and you can see it across the field, it just happened to be on the goal line this time. It was great will, he should’ve been stopped—(play by play announcer Steve) Raible had him stopped (on his radio call). He had him stopped cold, dead, couldn’t make it, and then he came out of nowhere and finished it. It’s really one of my favorites.”
That type of effort isn’t just valuable because it led to a touchdown, but because it can be contagious when teammates see Carson showing that kind of fight.
“Those guys, and watching the film today where they really could see it, and really sharing the experience of it and see what he did and how he did it,” Carroll said. “It does affect them.”
3. Poona Ford has earned himself a bigger role on defense.
Poona Ford, an undrafted rookie out of Texas, played 50 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps on Sunday, and made a big impact on the game, recording six tackles, including three for a loss. While Ford has already done enough to become a regular in the defensive line rotation, that performance will likely get him on the field even more going forward, Carroll said.
“He has been really aggressive, he has shown really good instincts to get a feel for taking advantage and making plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said. “He’s going to get some more playing time.”
4. Delano Hill and Shalom Luani “both did some good things” in relief of Bradley McDougald.
While the Seahawks hope to get safety Bradley McDougald back as soon as possible—he left Sunday’s game in the first half with a knee injury—Carroll did like what he saw from backup safeties Delano Hill and Shalom Luani. Hill took over at strong safety for McDougald, while Luani saw limited playing time when the Seahawks used their dime defense, playing the sixth defensive back role Hill would normally have when McDougald is healthy.
“I thought both those guys did a nice job,” Carroll said. “I mentioned to the team today that those guys stepping into their opportunity, both did some good things and were effective in the game. We were really happy to see that. With Bradley getting banged up, we needed those guys and we had to keep our special packages alive. They jumped right in there and did a nice job. They prepared really well. Both guys made some nice plays in the game. That’s just helping us move ahead with confidence that those guys can go in and we can use those guys if we need them this weekend.”
5. 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens “is a really good football player.”
It took two injuries at quarterback for Nick Mullens to get on the field, but since taking over the starting role, he has impressed a lot of people, including Carroll, who saw Mullens throw for 689 yards in two games against the Seahawks this month.
“He’s a good player,” Carroll said. “Twice in the last three weeks with the guy, he’s a really good football player. We hit him, we chased him, he’s accurate, he’s poised, his arm’s plenty good enough, accuracy was there and I thought he’s just good. They’re fortunate to have a guy come out of the depth chart there to come out and play like that. He’s a good ball player.”
Game action photos from the Seahawks' 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15 of the 2018 NFL season.