BY Art Thiel 07:16PM 12/09/2013

Carroll thinks Seahawks loss may help focus

The late gash by 49ers Frank Gore was an example of small things in a close game that become difference-makers. Seahawks should have stopped it, Carroll said.

The Seahawks didn’t take much advantage of wide receivers such as Jermaine Kearse going deep; Russell Wilson was 0-for-3 on deep throws, and Kearse had two catches for 15 yards. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

Ever in pursuit of the silver lining, coach Pete Carroll Monday was ready to embrace the notion that the Seahawks’ loss in San Francisco Sunday was useful, at least in terms of dope-slapping any smugness from the Seahawks that may have developed in the 11-1 start.

“I don’t think there’s any question — it can help if you utilize it,” he said Monday. “It’s a learning opportunity again, a reality check — how the littlest of things can determine the outcome of a game.

“I like (other teams) to learn the hard way, as always, but that’s not the case.”

One of the little things turned large — a sweep left by the 49ers RB Frank Gore late in the game that Carroll said the Seahawks stopped earlier. Behind a pulling guard, Gore broke through the line and cut right, past several defenders with a shot at him.

It went for 51 yards, longest run of the season against Seattle by 19 yards. Noteworthy was Earl Thomas, perhaps the Seahawks best defender, getting caught flat-footed as Gore whooshed past.

“We just over-ran it,” Carroll said. “A number of guys had a chance. Kam (Chancellor) had a real shot at it, just floated over the top of the run. Earl had a shot at it as it came back underneath. It got back all the way to (Richard Sherman). He got nicked by a blocker and just didn’t get off of it cleanly and (Gore) took off and hit it. We were going this way and he was going that way.

“They blocked it well up front. But we had plenty of shots to keep it to being an eight-to-nine yard gain. They took full advantage of it.”

Any improvement on the defensive front seven will have to happen without starting WLB K.J. Wright, who is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday to repair a bone broken his right foot. He’s likely to be out six weeks.

His place will be taken by Malcolm Smith, a third-year pro who had 55 snaps Sunday and made three tackles.

“He understands the (weakside linebacker) position really well — it’s his natural position,” he said. “He’s a fantastic athlete, really good coverage/speed guy on the field. He’s played quite a bit for us this year. We’re comfortable with him playing and he should do a good job for us.”

Carroll seemed to think the other significant injury from San Francisco, a pectoral strain by C Max Unger, may heal in time for the Giants game in New York Sunday: “He’ll be in limited fashion during the week. We think we’ll get him for the ball game.”

Carroll continued to lament penalties — the nine Sunday (for 85 yards) brought the season total to 104, two less than NFL leader Tampa, which also has a slim lead in yardage, 1,000 to 976.

“In terms of where I would be criticizing the officials, I don’t see it as that, but penalties really were a big factor in the game,” he said, noting that on three of nine possessions, the Seahawks had three first downs called back by major penalties. “Those drives got wasted. We didn’t overcome them.

“I don’t think they were necessarily poor calls; we’re just looking for consistency at all times.”

On San Francisco’s final possession, Carroll gave some serious consideration to letting the 49ers score shortly after Gore’s run in order to give the Seahawks offense a chance with the ball. They didn’t, the Niners kicked the game-winning field goal and the ball back to the Seahawks, out of time outs, with 20 seconds left.

“We don’t have examples in our (coaches’) history or in our backgrounds” to claim the rare strategy was worth trying, he said.  “But we do know that’s an alternative. I remember it’s happened before. I was clear about it, (but) decided to go see if we can knock the (field goal attempt) down. Just stay with the principles of doing it on defense.

“But when we have a guy like Russell (Wilson) and our offense, they can hit it in two minutes. We’re really good at it; it does give us that option.”


  • jafabian

    At least the Hawks got a taste of humble pie, as it were. They can just focus on playing football and not for a one loss season. Hopefully they’ll take it out on the Giants on Sunday.

    • art thiel

      That’s Carroll’s point, more directly. If the Seahawks had clinched with 3g remaining, keeping everyone’s attention was going be difficult.

  • Guest

    The funny thing about the strategy of “let them score a touchdown with 2 minutes left so we get the ball back with time to score another touchdown ourselves” is that the team with the ball does not have to score. If the running back were just allowed to walk into the endzone, he could always just stop at the one yard line and stand there with the clock running, then step into the endzone with a few seconds left on the clock.
    If this strategy were to become common, it could lead to some really hilarious situations, where say the running back refused to cross the goal line, so the DEFENSIVE team would pick him up and carry him into the endzone against his will. In response, then the OFFENSIVE team would try to tackle their own running back to prevent a touchdown too soon. So, the defensive team would be trying to let the other team’s running back score, and the offensive team would be trying to prevent their own running back from scoring.
    It could get pretty funny, really.
    In reality, the offensive team would start to just have their QB take a knee a few times to run out the clock instead of trying to score a touchdown, then kick a field goal with little time on the clock. You can’t “let your opponent score a touchdown” if they don’t want to.

    • art thiel

      Ultimately, I think one of Carroll’s coaches probably thought it through to the point where they figured Harbaugh would do exactly that — avoid the end zone. Plus, getting Sherman, Thomas, et al, to quit on a play, however valid the strategy, wouldn’t be worth the argument.

  • oldfan

    I’ve never liked the “let ’em score” stratagy except on rare occasions. I don’t have the stats, but I’ve got to think it’s easier to go 35 or 40 yards to get into FG range in 30 seconds with the defense having to guard to whole field, than to go 70 or 80 and the D only really worried about the endzone with 60 seconds.
    That said I’m not that upset with the loss. That it was to SF, yes, but really: on the road, on a short week, after a big win, and a game that didn’t mean that much in the standing to the Hawks (but was vital to the Niners)? I kind of expected it. Hopefully we’ll learn the lesson about penalties (that they can come back to bite you in tough games) and move on.
    This loss has very little impact on my faith in this team or my admiration for the job Pete and the boys have done to this point.

    • art thiel

      When the first playoff game rolls around in mid-Jan, this outcome will be lightly noted.

  • Robert Ya

    “Carroll continued to lament penalties.” Ha-ha. Are you serious? This is an organization that plays dirty: with a secondary that holds on every play, a stadium whose acoustics were deliberately designed to give an unfair advantage that no other team has at home, and a serious problem with performance enhancing drugs. The Seahags were lucky not to have the flag thrown on every play.

    • oldfan

      Oh my god! You are SOOO right! If only there were rules against breaking the rules! Maybe the league should put someone on the field, dress them in funny striped clothes and let them punish teams that do wrong, maybe take away yardage or something.
      Of course the Seahawks are the ONLY team with problems with PEDs and recreational drugs (remind me again, where were Aldon Smith and Von Miller at for half the season?).
      And acoustics designed into the stadium?! How unfair! I bet none of these other new sports palaces were designed to enhance crowd noise! I’m sure the new Levi stadium in SF is being designed for extra quiet relaxing comfort for visiting teams.
      Seriously, what do you do when you’re not whining?

    • The Ref

      I’m throwing a flag on your comment for trolling hyperbole. 15-yard penalty.

    • art thiel

      Yup. You caught ’em there. These guys should be the sequel to “The Longest Yard” prison movie. They cheat and they smoke dope. They cut in line on the freeway and the grocery line. And they use pencils on crosswords. Cowards!

  • Gerald Turner

    I once did see a forty niner help a little old lady across the street, of course he did lift her hand bag as they were crossing. My biggest disappointment with the game was I did not get to see their coach throw him self on the ground. You know, where he writhes around flailing his fists and feet, howls emanating from his mouth, shrieking until he gets his way.