BROCK AND SALK

Huard: Two ways Seahawks’ defense came up short vs 49ers

Jan 16, 2023, 3:24 PM | Updated: Jan 18, 2023, 2:19 pm
Seahawks 49ers Deebo Samuel...
San Francisco WR Deebo Samuel scores a 74-yard touchdown against the Seahawks on Jan. 14, 2023. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The difference in the Seahawks’ playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday clearly came down to defense.

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Seattle scored 17 of its 23 points in the second quarter, meaning it was almost entirely shut out by the NFL’s top defense in the three other quarters. San Francisco, meanwhile, picked apart the Seahawks’ D in the second half, outscoring Seattle 25-6 after halftime en route to a 41-23 victory.

Former NFL quarterback and current FOX football analyst Brock Huard pinpointed two ways in which the Seahawks’ defense came up short in their season-ending loss during Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports. Here’s a look at what he had to say.

The ‘chess match’

Going up against the vaunted 49ers defense meant the pressure was on the Seahawks’ coaching staff to even the playing field.

In one respect, Seattle succeeded.

“Shane Waldron, I give an ‘A,'” Huard said of the Seahawks offensive coordinator. “… I thought Waldron was right back in some of his form this season where you had two offensive tackles coming in in your three-tight end package, you are motioning, you are mixing different personnel groups, there’s some cool little jet motions. You got back to some of your very effective boot game against a team as fast as San Francisco was defensively. You want to use that speed against them. I thought that their boot game, play-action game was on it. I loved a lot of what Shane Waldron did – took his shots when appropriate.”

Seattle was outmaneuvered on the defensive side of the chess match, though.

“(Safety) Ryan Neal came up to stop that run game – they were going to be committed, they were going to throw all the artillery to stop the run,” Huard said of the Seahawks. “They had seven, eight guys flying at the line of scrimmage, which you had to do. But then it left so many chasms in the play-action game to (49ers wide receivers) Deebo (Samuel) and (Brandon) Aiyuk. And then, you know, (running back Christian) McCaffrey gets out and there’s a 68-yarder – you miss one tackle and he’s gone. So I didn’t see any particularly creative blitzes. I saw a commitment, I saw an aggressiveness, I saw what you had to do just matchup-wise, personnel-wise, but I can’t say that there was any new wholesale chess moves that I was overly impressed with.”

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The stat where the 49ers beat the Seahawks

Next up, Huard identified one issue the 49ers exploited Saturday time and again: the Seahawks’ tackling.

“(San Francisco had) 181 yards after catch – game over. Game over,” Huard said.

A lot of those yards came on Samuel’s 74-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, but not all of them did.

“When they catch the ball, there can’t be enough separation that they’re just running away from you,” Huard said.

You can hear Huard’s full thoughts during the Blue 88 segment from Monday’s show in the podcast below. Blue 88 is a daily segment at 7:45 a.m. on Brock and Salk where Huard answers three football questions from co-host Mike Salk.

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Huard: Two ways Seahawks’ defense came up short vs 49ers