Pete Carroll previews Seahawks’ playoff matchup vs rival 49ers
It took two straight wins to close out the year as well as some help from the Detroit Lions, but the Seahawks are in the playoffs after a 9-8 regular season.
Now, they face a very tough task in the San Francisco 49ers, who not only won the NFC West and earned the NFC’s No. 2 playoff seed, but they beat the Seahawks in two meetings already this year.
It’s rare for teams to face off three times in a single season, and it’s also very rare for a team to earn three victories over an opponent in a single season.
What does head coach Pete Carroll think about that? He discussed that aspect of Saturday’s game and much more during this week’s Pete Carroll Preview on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM.
Carroll said “I don’t buy any of that” when asked by Steve Raible about the difficulty of playing a team three times.
“Difficult for who? Like difficult for us but not for them? No. It’s just the next matchup,” he said.
In fact, Carroll said facing a team for a third time is “actually more fun in a sense” due to all the additional information the coaches and players have at their disposal.
“I like to use that to our advantage as much as possible,” he said. “That and our background and experience and all that to make decisions and choices and to play the chess game and all that kind of stuff. So I just think (the stated difficulty of facing a team three times is) just a little bit of an overplay.”
So how about those 49ers? What does the Seahawks’ playoff opponent look like in Carroll’s eyes?
“It really all starts with their defense,” Carroll said. “They’re so dominant defensively that they can build their team around that. I don’t want for a second to discount the role that (head coach and offensive play-caller) Kyle Shanahan plays on this thing. He is a huge factor in this offense and the style and all their preparation. But I do think it starts with defense, it starts up front, it starts with their pass rush and their attack line of scrimmage, and it starts with Bosa.”
Bosa is, of course, star edge rusher Nick Bosa. He led the NFL in sacks with 18.5 and is the best player on the NFL’s No. 1 defense.
“He’s the guy that really causes all of the problems, but he’s not the only guy,” Carroll said. “Fred Warner is a great player and can do everything that a linebacker could ever do on the field … There’s so many guys that make things happen. It’s very difficult.”
The 49ers’ defense is elite and their offense has plenty of dangerous playmakers. They likely are getting star receiver Deebo Samuel back for this game, too.
“They’ve got everybody back, so it’ll be an opportunity to beat them at their best,” Carroll said. “That’ll be quite the challenge.”
As noted, the Seahawks and 49ers have faced off twice already this year with both games going San Francisco’s way.
In Week 2, the 49ers won 27-7 in a game where the Seahawks only found the end zone due to a blocked field goal.
It was a much closer game in Week 15, though, but it was the same result. San Francisco got the win 21-13 in Seattle.
Carroll reflected on that game and stressed that his team was just a few plays away from beating the 49ers.
“We had a total busted coverage for an easy 50-something-yard touchdown. That’s a gimme there. And then they out-executed us on their trick little screen that they did. Give them credit, but that was a big play that didn’t have to be a touchdown,” he said.
Also on defense, Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs nearly recorded an interception late in the first half. At that point of the game, the 49ers were up just 7-3. Had Diggs picked off the pass, the Seahawks would have had the ball in 49ers territory.
Instead, Diggs dropped it. And while the 49ers punted that drive, they did ultimately score before halftime as the Seahawks lost a fumble in their own territory.
“Those are enormous plays in that game. It was 7-3 and we’d have had the ball inside the 50-yard line with a couple minutes left,” Carroll said. “And if you look at the score, too, 21-13, they had very few games like that during the course of the season … There’s a lot of big scores and lopsided games that they’ve played, and ours wasn’t that way. So we know it was close, we know we were on it, so we’re gonna go for it again.”
Something that will also be worth monitoring with this game is the weather.
The Bay Area of California is in the midst of major storms and flooding, and heavy rain and wind is expected on Saturday.
“We’ve got to have the mental side of this thing nailed. We’ve got to be in the right place and right frame of mind so that we can not let (the weather) be the factor that changes our play. If anything, we’re going to ride the winds and ride the rain and see if we can put together a really focused outing with maybe the craziest of circumstances,” Carroll said. “I mean, there’s cyclone warnings and all kinds of things … On this day, it’s supposed to rain anywhere from a half an inch to an inch during the game. So yeah, we’re getting ready for it.”
Listen to the full Pete Carroll Preview at this link or in the player below.