When Seahawks coach Pete Carroll reviewed his team's Week 3 performance against the San Francisco 49ers, he saw a team that "took a step forward" in a 37-18 victory. Carroll saw things he liked in all three phases of the game, from on offense that got the running game on track to a defense that was nearly perfect for three-plus quarters, to a special teams unit that made field-position-changing plays.
Carroll also provided some injury updates, which you can find here, but in terms of the game itself, here are five things we learned from Carroll a day after the game:
1. Carroll is "really fired up" about the defense, but nobody is happy with the way they finished.
Three games into the season, the Seahawks have allowed the fewest yards and the second fewest points in the NFL, and for most of Sunday's game, they completely dominated the 49ers offense.
"I'm really fired up about the defense," Carroll said. "The first three weeks of the season we've really played the same. Very aggressive, tough football and good at the line of scrimmage. Also really effective on third down and we're running really well to the ball and stuff. Some real good positive things there for three weeks in."
But after the game, some defensive players were noticeably upset despite a lopsided win because they weren't happy with allowing two late touchdowns to the 49ers. Carroll said he "absolutely" liked seeing his players wishing they had done more even after a 19-point victory.
"The expectations and standards are really high," Carroll said. "We just didn't hit it right, so we were a little bit out of sync. Everybody kind of accepted it and we realized that we need to stay tuned into the game."
In particular, Carroll said the defense was out of synch because they expected the 49ers to come out throwing on those final drives, but San Francisco instead elected to run the ball.
"We were a little bit out of synch in that we were trying to get after the quarterback and rush the passer thinking that they were going to try to get their way back in it by throwing it," Carroll said. "As we kind of admitted to the players, as coaches we felt the same thing—we were trying to get some pressure on the quarterback, and they kept running the football. They in essence decided that was how to finish the game. We didn't believe it so we kept rushing the passer, and they kept running it. They got half of their yards in the late last eight or nine minutes of the game. Good for them, they did a nice job. But it was frustrating because our guys don't want to see that happen. We've worked really hard for three and a half quarters to not let that happen and we gave them some yards."
2. The emphasis in the running game paid off.
Throughout last week, Carroll, assistant coaches and players talked about the importance of getting the running game going, then on Sunday the Seahawks had their best performance on the ground this season, rushing for 127 yards, including 106 and two touchdowns from Christine Michael.
"I think that the coaches did a nice job of emphasizing, the players did a nice job of embracing the challenge of improving, and we took a step ahead," Carroll said. "Christine was really the recipient of most of the good shots, and he did a really nice job, 20 carries for him. He had a nice day's work and he looked really explosive. We really left a lot of yards out there too, with some penalties that we would like to get rid of. I think it was just a real good approach during the week and guys embraced it really well."
3. Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham are finding their chemistry.
In his third game back from a serious knee injury, tight end Jimmy Graham had one of his best games as a Seahawk, catching six passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Carroll wasn't surprised to see Graham have a big day, not after what he saw in practice the past couple of weeks, but he also understands that it could take time for Graham to get to this point after so much time away from game action following the injury.
"It's just been the process of getting to it," Carroll said. "You guys have really had a chance to watch and you can value what it takes to develop chemistry. It takes time, it isn't just an automatic thing. Last year we were just working and just trying to fit things together and all. We could see the potential but never really felt the connection like it is now. It's obvious now. It wasn't any fault of anybody's, it just takes time. Russell has thrown the ball so much to Jimmy in the summer and over the offseason, just playing catch and working together, that they have developed a history now. You can see it in the last couple weeks in practice, we've been talking positively about Jimmy and his work, and last week was kind of the culmination of it and you can just see it in practice, really by the time we got through all of our work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, it just felt like we were ready to bust out. We all felt like that."
4. The Seahawks "have a chance to have a really good group in all phases" of special teams.
The Seahawks traded a draft pick last year for Kelcie McCray, not because they expected him to help at safety right away—though he would later in the season—but because they saw a potential impact player on special teams. This year, the Seahawks traded for linebacker Dewey McDonald and signed cornerback Neiko Thorpe for the same reason.
Carroll noted that Thorpe "has been terrific" in his two games, saying the former Raider was Seattle's special teams player of the week in Week 2, and McDonald worked into the special teams mix as well in Sunday's win. The Seahawks continually looking to add players specifically to help on special teams is another sign of their commitment to that phase of the game, and it's one Carroll hopes will pay off this season.
"Both of those moves are really good demonstrations of (general manager John Schneider) and his guys figuring out who we need to help us and bring guys in who could really do that. So it's a good boost.
"We do have that commitment. We're looking to try to find guys off other rosters that might be able to help us in developing the core guys out of the special teams group. It's really a big deal to us to have a solid group of guys. When you keep those guys together, you can make really good progress. We have a chance to have a really good group in all phases. Our kickers are really legit, our returner is legit, and our scheme we know is solid. If we can just find the consistency, we can make a lot of things happen. We're going to continue to really push in all of those areas to try to just develop another strength in small ways in different aspects of our teams to help us be productive and we're all pretty excited about that. It was a really good game for our guys this week."
5. Trevone Boykin can "make things happen."
The Seahawks would prefer to always have a healthy Russell Wilson on the field at quarterback, but one silver lining in Wilson's knee injury is that it gave rookie Trevone Boykin a chance to play meaningful snaps in his first regular season game. Boykin did throw one interception, but otherwise he was poised and played well in his debut, completing 7 of 9 attempts for 65 yards and a 16-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin.
"I thought it was really good," Carroll said. "He threw the ball around a little bit, a little bit too much. We got to see him on the field and it's good for him, it's good for the players too. We've watched him a lot and of course seen him in preseason and practice. He's a very poised and comfortable athlete. He's not going to get flustered and he showed that again the other day. That's just a good sign and I'm excited to see what he can do. He can make plays, make things happen. You saw him, he looked pretty sharp for coming off the bench like that, and that's about all we should hope for."
Get close to the Seahawks with these sideline portraits during their 37-18 victory over the 49ers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.