By Brady Henderson
SAN FRANCISCO – Penalties have been the norm for the Seahawks, a tradeoff of the unrelenting physicality with which Seattle plays.
They were something else on Sunday.
“The penalties, they killed us today,” defensive lineman Michael Bennett said from the visitors’ locker room after the Seahawks lost 19-17 to the 49ers at Candlestick Park.
There were nine of them assessed in all against the Seahawks, which is actually one fewer than their season-high mark. The 85 yards they lost because of them wasn’t a season-high, either, in fact marking the seventh time Seattle’s penalties have added up to at least 80 yards.
“They got the benefit of a few calls tonight throughout the game and that helps you,” cornerback Richard Sherman said after the Seahawks were flagged nine times Sunday. (AP)
But that was what the Seahawks said was as big as reason as any that they lost Sunday to the team they had beaten by a combined score of 71-16 in their last two meetings.
“We expected to blow them out, but they got the benefit of a few calls tonight throughout the game and that helps you, especially on third down,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “We will see them again and it will be a different result.”
Sherman was issued two holding penalties, including one that was declined and another that gave San Francisco a fresh set of downs on third-and-11 in the second quarter. The 49ers ended that drive with a go-ahead field goal.
Cornerback Byron Maxwell was also called for defensive holding.
“I’m sure there was a lot of complaining about the pass defense from their end of it, and I think some calls went that way,” Carroll said.
Seattle’s offense was responsible for four on the team’s nine penalties, among them an offensive pass interference on what would have been a 16-yard catch by Golden Tate as well as a facemask called against Michael Robinson that negated a 20-yard Marshawn Lynch run. The latter was especially costly, a 35-yard swing that resulted in the Seahawks facing a first-and-25 from their own 23.
“The penalties really hurt us offensively,” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “They really got us off schedule.”
Wright breaks foot
Before they lost the game, the Seahawks lost a starting linebacker for what will likely be the remainder of the regular season. K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot, an injury that Carroll said should keep him out for roughly six weeks.
“We’re really disappointed in that. He was really upset about that,” Carroll said. “That looks like a six-week type of injury. They’ve already diagnosed it. So we’ll have to live with that one.”
Linebacker is one area where Seattle could seemingly absorb the loss of a starter. Malcolm Smith has started five games this season, including two straight when Bobby Wagner was out with an ankle injury. He played well enough in those games to merit consideration to remain in the starting lineup even when Wagner returned.
Smith had four tackles – including one for a loss – after replacing Wright.
Willson comes up big
The Seahawks entered April’s draft determined to come away with Luke Willson, a tight end out of Rice who was a backup and had all of nine catches during an injury-plagued senior season.
More coverage of the Seahawks’ Week-14 loss to San Francisco at Candlestick Park.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O’Neil: What We Learned||• O’Neil: Seahawks get an important reminder||• O’Neil: Should Seahawks have let 49ers score?||• ‘The Pete Carroll Show’: Wright to have surgery||• Henderson: Late-game lapse dooms Seahawks|
The reason: the speed he showed on two long receptions Sunday, including a 39-yard catch and run that gave the Seahawks their second touchdown.
“Luke has shown us this ability to catch and run. He’s fast,” Carroll said. “It was a huge play for him, but he did some nice stuff in general.”
The Seahawks were trailing 9-7 late in the second quarter when they ran a play-action pass that left Willson wide open over the middle. He made one defender miss en route to the end zone and his first career touchdown.
He had earlier given Seattle’s struggling offense a spark, picking up 29 yards on third down to extend a drive that would end with the Seahawks’ first touchdown. Willson finished with three catches for 70 yards.
“That was cool to come out of my shell a little bit as a rookie,” he said, “but it would have been a lot nicer if we got the ‘W’, too.”
• C Max Unger sustained a strained pectoral muscle and was replaced for the remainder of the game by Lemuel Jeanpierre.
• S Jeron Johnson pulled a hamstring. Carroll said the injury was to the hamstring opposite the one that has given him problems throughout the season.
• Seattle had a punt blocked for the second straight game against San Francisco.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.