Carroll explains why ‘there’s a distance’ between Seahawks, 49ers

Jan 16, 2023, 11:45 AM
Seahawks 49ers Geno Smith Arik Armstead...
Arik Armstead of the San Francisco 49ers sacks Seahawks QB Geno Smith on Jan. 14, 2023. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

For two quarters on Saturday, the Seahawks didn’t just match the NFC West champion 49ers in their NFC Wild Card playoff matchup. The Seahawks, by a one-point margin, actually outplayed San Francisco.

The next two quarters? Well, that played out very differently.

Rost: How the Seahawks put a new twist on an old story

The Seahawks took advantage of a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty by 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward inside the final 10 seconds of the first half, with kicker Jason Myers nailing a 56-yard field goal as time expired to give Seattle a 17-16 lead at halftime.

The 49ers responded in a big way, though, scoring the next 25 points of the game on their way to a 41-23 win, with their defense holding Seattle to a single touchdown in garbage time in the second half.

As it turned out, the Seahawks did almost all of their damage in the game during a second quarter where they outscored the Niners 17-6, with the other three quarters serving as a prime example why San Francisco had the top defense in the NFL this season.

That all brings up a question that Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk had to ask the Seahawks head coach Monday morning during the final Pete Carroll Show of the season: How far are the Seahawks away from the 49ers talent-wise?

“There’s a distance here,” Carroll answered. “It’s really because of what they got up front. Their front seven is really, really well equipped.”

When Carroll looks over the 49ers’ dominant defense, he sees multiple game-changing players.

“Their linebackers have been there, like, four years together, the same three guys playing,” he said. “(Safety Talanoa) Hufanga came in, just jumped right into it and became an excellent factor out of nowhere. He fits in like he’s been there for his whole career. But the guys up front really make a difference. I mean, (defensive lineman Arik) Armstead is unbelievably talented, he’s a problem every snap. (Defensive lineman Nick) Bosa is a problem every snap, and we breathe a sigh of relief when he has to take a break, you know, so we can go ahead and get after it. Those guys make enough stuff happen and they demand so much focus in the game plan and the approach because they’re going to do something to you if you don’t. That’s a big difference than what we what we have.”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Seattle Sports (@seattlesports710)

Salk’s next question: Who on the Seahawks’ defense could be considered a problem on every snap for another team?

Carroll’s answer further emphasized where he thinks Seattle needs to improve to catch up to the Niners.

“You know, I think (linebacker) Jordyn Brooks is one of those guys,” Carroll said. “I think Diggsy (safety Quandre Diggs) is one of those guys on the back end. (Cornerback) Tariq (Woolen) is becoming that – he could be a factor. The problem is, to really be effective it needs to be up front. You need to have those guys that can really do stuff, they cause the problem – run and pass – every snap. You gotta run the other way, you gotta look out, you gotta cut them off.

“Those are the factors. It’s like the factor that (Rams defensive tackle) Aaron Donald brings. That factor overwhelms the game plan and becomes a distraction to the rest of it if you can’t handle those guys. That’s where you see the teams that really have the big time potential defensively. They’ve got a couple guys, or at least one guy, that you really have to contend with.”

If you want to read between the lines of Carroll’s comments, it’s worth noting that the Seahawks have the No. 5 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, and there are multiple defensive linemen expected to be taken early in the first round. While Carroll indicated elsewhere during Monday’s conversation that he wasn’t going to tip Seattle’s hand ahead of the draft – “The most important thing is that we are the ones that know what we’re doing and nobody else knows,” he said – at this point it would seem more surprising if the Seahawks drafted anything other than a defensive lineman at No. 5.

You can listen to the full Pete Carroll Show at this link or in the player below.

More from The Pete Carroll Show: Where things stand with Hawks, Geno on new deal

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk

Seahawks Marcus Davenport...
Brandon Gustafson

Huard: How this draft class’ strength can help Seahawks in free agency

Because the 2023 draft is loaded with pass rushers, Brock Huard says there's history to show the Seahawks can take advantage in free agency.
17 hours ago
Seahawks Ohio State Dawand Jones...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: All-American Dawand Jones an OL to consider

If the Seahawks want to add another big guy to their offensive line in the draft, Brock Huard likes Ohio State's Dawand Jones.
2 days ago
Seahawks draft Julius Brents...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: The CB who could be this year’s Tariq Woolen

Kansas State's Julius Brents is a cornerback in this NFL Draft class who is in the mold of Seahawks star Tariq Woolen, Brock Huard says.
3 days ago
Seahawks QB Geno Smith Dave Canales...
Brandon Gustafson

How big of a loss would QB coach Dave Canales be for Seahawks?

With QB coach Dave Canales interviewing with the Ravens, Brock Huard breaks down what that could mean for the Seahawks.
3 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic Scott Servais...
Mike Salk

Salk: Patient Mariners are doing things the right way with Jarred Kelenic

When it comes to the Mariners and young OF Jarred Kelenic, Mike Salk explains why the team's approach for 2023 makes a lot of sense.
4 days ago
UW Huskies Sam Huard...
Brent Stecker

Sam Huard announces transfer from UW Huskies to Cal Poly

Quarterback Sam Huard joined Seattle Sports' Brock and Salk on Monday morning to announce his transfer to the Cal Poly Mustangs.
6 days ago
Carroll explains why ‘there’s a distance’ between Seahawks, 49ers