RENTON — The veterans in the Seattle Seahawks locker room contend there’s no concern about a divide forming even as the team has continued to falter for more than a month and watched their playoff hopes dwindle.
But they do agree that the next couple of weeks will show plenty about the character of their group, especially now after watching San Francisco celebrate winning the NFC West on Seattle’s home field.
“We’re kind of at one of those crossroads where you got three games left, and how do you want to finish? Do you want to finish and head to the playoffs, or do you want to finish and go home?” Seattle safety Quandre Diggs said. “That’s kind of what it is.”
Seattle’s fourth loss in five games came Thursday night in a 21-13 setback to the 49ers that ended up being more costly than just another loss. Standout wide receiver Tyler Lockett suffered a broken hand late in the loss that will require surgery and keep him out for at least next week’s game at Kansas City.
Lockett’s injury was another blow on a night Seattle was simply outclassed by the 49ers. San Francisco dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides and two big plays in the passing game by rookie QB Brock Purdy was more than enough for the Niners.
It was a disheartening 60 minutes for the Seahawks when a month ago they appeared in control of the division before their slide and now look nothing like a possible playoff team.
“I think everyone is a little bit shocked. We didn’t expect to come out after the bye and lose these games,” Seattle QB Geno Smith said. “Everyone is a little bit shocked. Again, there is no panic. No one is putting their heads down or quitting. That’s one thing we’re not going to do.”
The Seahawks appeared to make strides defensively and most notably in the run game. The overall numbers are slightly eschewed by the 55-yard run by Jordan Mason that came with 1:14 remaining. And while that play can’t be ignored, Seattle for the most part did a decent job on limiting Christian McCaffrey and the run game. McCaffrey had 108 yards rushing, but up until the final big run by Mason the Seahawks were giving up 3.5 yards per rush, which was a massive improvement over recent weeks.
What needs help
Seattle must address the interior of its offensive line this offseason. That point was emphasized watching the struggles of center Austin Blythe and guards Damien Lewis, Gabe Jackson and Phil Haynes against the 49ers. Whatever the combo was, the interior of Seattle’s line failed to keep San Francisco from getting pressure up the middle on Smith and disrupting the timing of the offense.
It’s hard to find positives after another loss, but Seattle kicker Jason Myers remains remarkably consistent in the kicking game. Myers is 26 of 27 on field goals after hitting from 38 and 51 yards against the 49ers. He’s now 6-for-6 on kicks of 50 yards or more this season and has made 21 straight since missing his only field goal attempt of the season back in Week 4 in Detroit.
Myers’ leads the league in field goal percentage at 96.3% a year after making just 73.9% of his kicks, the second-lowest of his career.
Diggs defines his job at free safety as not giving up any big plays. But his chance at making a big play and dropping a sure interception in the second quarter ended up costing the Seahawks. The trickle down from Diggs’ drop was significant. Instead of getting the ball near midfield — or potentially in 49ers’ territory — San Francisco punted. Four plays after the punt, Travis Homer fumbled on a big hit and was returned by the 49ers to the Seattle 6. McCaffrey scored two plays later and it was 14-3 San Francisco at halftime.
Lockett is clearly the biggest loss for Seattle. He’s missed only one game of his career due to injury. But the loss of DT Bryan Mone (knee) is also significant for a run defense that’s been overwhelmed of late. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Friday it’s still wait and see for Al Woods (Achilles) as to whether he’ll return next week. Same for Jordyn Brooks, who was sidelined in the fourth quarter due to a neck injury.
26-21 — Seattle fell to 3-4 at home this season and since the start of the 2017 season is just five games above .500 at home, including a loss in the 2020 playoffs. Seattle was 43-10 including playoffs in the six seasons between 2011-16.
Seattle gets an extended break, but the challenge won’t get easier traveling to Kansas City next Saturday to face the AFC West-leading Chiefs. It’s not a must-win for Seattle, but an upset of the Chiefs would go a long way to solidifying playoff hopes for the Seahawks.