Updated Sep 23, 2013 - 4:13 pm
The Brock and Danny Show on 710 ESPN Seattle
Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 1:44pm
By Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned:
1. The importance of home field for Seattle.
The Seahawks had won two in a row against San Francisco by a combined total of 71-16, but both of those games were played at CenturyLink Field. At Candlestick Park, however, the two teams have played low-scoring slugfests with neither team surpassing 20 points. The Seahawks lost 13-7 in Week 7 last season before Sunday's 19-17 loss.
The good news for Seattle? If the Seahawks win two of their final three regular-season games, they won't have to come back to Candlestick Park ever again as Seattle would be assured of hosting any postseason game it plays up to the Super Bowl and the 49ers are moving to a new stadium next season.
2. Penalties are a potential Achilles heel for this team.
You can say a lot of things about the nine times Seattle was penalized for 85 yards. Unfortunate. Costly. Unnecessary.
Here's one thing you can't say, though: surprising. This is par for the course for this Seahawks team that has now been called for eight or more penalties in eight of the 13 games it has played. Seattle had been penalized 95 times entering the game, second-most in the league. The Seahawks were penalized 110 times last season, sixth-most in the league.
It's wishful thinking to believe all those flags are going to stop overnight.
3. Seattle's biggest lost on Sunday may not have been on the scoreboard.
The defeat in San Francisco won't matter a bit if Seattle wins two of its final three games. The injury to linebacker K.J. Wright, however, could be a tough one. He suffered a broken bone in his foot, something coach Pete Carroll characterized as a six-week injury.
We'll see if that means he winds up on injured reserve or if Seattle holds out hope he might be back late in the playoffs. Either way, Seattle is going to be missing a linebacker who is coming off one of the best games of his career in that Monday night victory over New Orleans.
Three things we're still trying to figure out:
1. Do the 49ers' coaches deserve an award for lobbying?
After playing the Seahawks in Week 7 last year, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said he would seek clarification from the league on the amount of contact defensive backs are allowed to have with receivers. Last week, offensive coordinator Greg Roman talked about getting mugged by Seattle's defenders during a Week 2 meeting.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• 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||• Henderson: Seahawks' penalties loom large|
"You saw the calls, you saw the game," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "If that's the way they called it, that's the way they called it. There's nothing you can do about it. It's just unfortunate it had to affect the game so much."
It was reminiscent of Seattle's loss in Indianapolis in Week 5, and it's a potential cause for concern if the Seahawks have a tightly called playoff game in which referees place a microscope over the play of their defensive backs.
2. How did the Seahawks' defense play?
They allowed only two runs of 10 or more yards all game and only two completions of more than 20 yards. Not only that, but Seattle held San Francisco to a single touchdown despite the 49ers having four different possessions that reached at least the Seahawks' 20-yard line.
Yet, the biggest play of the game sticks out not just for the total, but the timing as Frank Gore's 51-yard run with less than 5 minutes remaining put the 49ers in position for the win. The 49ers hadn't exactly been gashing Seattle on Sunday. Gore had only 54 yards rushing prior to the 51-yard gain, which was 19 yards longer than any other run Seattle had given up over the first 12 games.
3. Will Percy Harvin be able to contribute down the stretch?
Seattle's two longest passing plays came on completions to Luke Willson, Seattle's backup tight end. That's a compliment for Willson, who has made more progress since training camp opened than any player on the team.
It also makes you wonder about the big-play potential for the rest of the offense. Harvin missed his second consecutive game since debuting for the Seahawks, and Carroll indicated this is going to be a big week for Harvin. We'll see if he can make it through the week of practice and get back in a game.
Monday, December 9, 2013 @ 11:42am
Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright is expected to miss the rest of the regular season and a portion of the playoffs after sustaining a foot injury during Seattle's loss to the 49ers on Sunday.
That was the word from coach Pete Carroll, who told 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" Monday that Wright will soon undergo surgery to place a screw in the broken bone in his right foot.
K.J. Wright was having the most productive season of his career before breaking a bone in his foot Sunday. (AP)
Wright was having the most productive season of his career and coming off one of his finest games as a pro before sustaining the injury. Carroll said he took the news hard when he was told by the team's medical staff about the severity.
"He was as emotionally as you can get, and he lost it a little bit down there when they told him what they thought it was, and they were right," Carroll said. "Anyways, we move ahead. That's how that goes. It's unfortunate. He's had a great season. He's been a huge factor to us."
Wright wrote on his Twitter account Sunday night that he hopes to be back in time for the playoffs.
His injury will be the latest test of the depth on Seattle's defense, which has played at times this season without one of its best pass rushers (Chris Clemons), its middle linebacker (Bobby Wagner) and two cornerbacks (Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond).
Malcolm Smith more than capably filled in for Wagner earlier this season and he made four tackles – including one for a loss – after replacing Wright on Sunday. O'Brien Schofield has played both "Leo" defensive end and strong-side linebacker this season, and Carroll said he will do more of the latter in light of Wright's injury.
"We have a starter in O'Brien, so that's good to have him ready to go in case we need to do something else," Carroll said.
Seahawks will wait and see on Unger
|• 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?||• Henderson: Late-game lapse dooms Seahawks||• Henderson: Seahawks' penalties loom large|
"We know what it is, we've just got to see how it responds during the week," Carroll said. "It's something that one of our guys has had before, played with it. So we'll find out how it is particularly for him ... That will take us all the way through the week."
Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson played through a torn pectoral muscle in 2011, missing one game after the injury and then playing in the remaining 10.
Lemuel Jeanpierre, who has started three games this season in place of Unger, finished Sunday's game once Unger was injured.
• Carroll didn't have an injury update on WR Percy Harvin, other than to say the team hopes he can practice Wednesday.
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
Sunday, December 8, 2013 @ 9:02pm
By Danny O'Neil
SAN FRANCISCO – Seattle's second loss of the season wasn't decided by a field goal.
The 49ers' 22-yard chip shot of a kick may have accounted for the final margin of the Seahawks' 19-17 loss, but it wasn't the difference in this game.
That would be the 85 yards of penalties against Seattle, including 45 in the third quarter alone, and the punt the Seahawks had blocked in the first half. And more than anything, this game came down the fact that Seattle's offense couldn't turn impossibly good field position into anything more than a field goal in the fourth quarter while its defense picked the worst possible moment to allow its longest run of the year.
This game wasn't a heartbreaker nearly so much as a reminder of both how thin the margin between victory and defeat so often is in the NFL and the type of games Seattle can expect going forward.
"They're a really good football team," coach Pete Carroll said. "They called for you to play great to beat them."
And Seattle didn't play great. Not on Sunday at Candlestick Park. They had their moments, Russell Wilson efficiently guiding the offense on a pair of first-half touchdown drives and posting a passer rating of higher than 140 in the first half. The defense was resilient, forcing San Francisco to settle for three field goals in the first half and then cornerback Byron Maxwell intercepting a pass near the goal line to unplug a 49ers scoring threat in the third quarter.
But that wasn't enough on an afternoon when the 49ers dug in their heels and made the kind of home-field stand you'd expect from a team that had won the division the past two seasons and played for the Super Bowl a year ago.
"It was kind of just a slugfest," Carroll said. "That's what it felt like."
And for the first time this season, the Seahawks were the ones trying to shake out the cob webs after the game. After three straight blowout victories – including a Monday-night showcase against New Orleans – this was a reality check.
"You win some, you learn some," receiver Doug Baldwin said afterward.
Consider this a lesson on the importance of penalties, which has been a problem for this team for three years running. So as much as you might want to complain, you can't say it came out of nowhere.
Same for the punt Seattle had blocked. The 49ers blocked one against Seattle in the Week 2 meeting.
And for the scoring chance Seattle wasted when Tate's punt return set up Seattle inside the San Francisco 30 in the fourth quarter and the Seahawks couldn't more than a single first down before kicking the go-ahead field goal.
All of that added up to leave the Seahawks vulnerable to a single defensive lapse, because for more than 50 minutes on Sunday, Seattle had kept the 49ers' power running game in check.
The Seahawks didn't allow a run longer than 9 yards in the first half, and Frank Gore had only 50 yards rushing entering what turned out to be the 49ers' game-winning drive. In fact, Seattle was one play from getting off the field only to let San Francisco convert a third-and-short with a run to Bruce Miller and then on the next play hand it to Gore, who ran 51 yards. It was the longest run Seattle had given up this season and it set up San Francisco for the game-winning field goal.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | Postgame interviews||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• O'Neil: Should Seahawks have let 49ers score?||• 'The Pete Carroll Show': Wright to have surgery||• Henderson: Late-game lapse dooms Seahawks||• Henderson: Seahawks' penalties loom large|
"We're not worried about anything," Sherman said. "Obviously, we'd love to get the win, but it doesn't really change anything for us."
That's one way of looking at it, and it's not necessarily wrong. If Seattle wins two of its final three games, the Seahawks will clinch both the division title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and this loss in San Francisco won't mean anything.
But on the other hand, it was a reminder that the gap between Seattle and the rest of the conference might not be the 20-plus-point victories the Seahawks had grown accustomed to as they reeled off wins against Atlanta, Minnesota and New Orleans.
There were six lead changes Sunday in a game that didn't make you question everything Seattle has accomplished so far this season, but did serve as a pretty powerful reminder that the Seahawks' success so far doesn't guarantee them anything but the opportunity to play in more bare-knuckle bouts against playoff-caliber opponents like Sunday.
"Being able to face this adversity is only going to be able to help us further down the line when we get into the playoffs," Baldwin said," because we're probably going to have a game like this coming up here shortly. So it's going to build character. We haven't had a tough one in recent weeks ... and I think the only positive we can take out of this is it's going to make stronger for later down the line."
Friday, December 6, 2013 @ 11:17am
By Danny O'Neil
The 49ers were the Seahawks' rival, then they became a benchmark.
On Sunday in San Francisco, the 49ers are something else entirely: They're next.
This game is no longer a grudge match. Not for Seattle, because if you think coach Pete Carroll spent this week working his team into a lather over facing this specific opponent, well, you haven't been paying attention to the way he's preparing his team. He was pretty blunt in saying there was no added significance to facing this 49ers team that Seattle has beaten twice in a row.
"Not to me," Carroll said. "No, I don't think so. We're just happy to have the opportunity to play a big game again, and the fact that it's in the division is pretty significant."
A victory would allow Seattle to not only clinch the division, but it would do so on the home field of this 49ers team that won the NFC West each of the past two years and reached the Super Bowl last season.
It would constitute a changing of the guard in the division, a passing of the torch. Two years ago the 49ers weren't just a team Seattle wanted to beat, but the team the Seahawks wanted to be, from the unrelenting rushing offense to the unyielding defense.
And going back to the start of the 2011 season, Seattle's series with San Francisco has traced the Seahawks' ascendance while the 49ers' scoring total has gradually declined. The 49ers beat Seattle 33-17 in September 2011, Jim Harbaugh's NFL coaching debut, then 19-17 in Seattle on Christmas Eve. The 49ers scored 13 points in each of the two meetings last season, beating Seattle 13-6 in October before losing 42-13 in December.
The Seahawks' 29-3 victory in Week 2 marked their graduation from preseason favorite to being a bona fide league heavyweight.
|• Michael Grey: They limit Frank Gore to fewer than 80 yards rushing.||• Dave Grosby: They score on special teams.||• Bob Stelton: They shut down Frank Gore, keep Colin Kaepernick in the pocket and force him to pass the ball, and avoid costly penalties.||• Brock Huard: They finish with more rushing yards than San Francisco.||• Danny O'Neil: They score two touchdowns.|
They are two teams that are strikingly similar not in scheme or attitude, but in an uncompromisingly physical approach on both sides of the ball. Both rank in the top five in rushing yards this season, the Seahawks have given up the second-fewest points while the 49ers rank No. 3 in that category.
The 49ers are the team with the most to lose Sunday, no doubt about that. San Francisco is 8-4, in strong position to make the playoffs but only a game ahead of Arizona.
Meanwhile, if the Seahawks win any two of their final four games, they are not only guaranteed to win the division but will clinch home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
"It's more of a must-win game for them than for us," Irvin said. "It's just another game, so we're just going to push it like it's just another game. Everybody knows what it is between us."
The Seahawks were a good team last season that has become great this year, and the question is just how dominant they can be.
They've played well enough to compensate for the loss of two starting offensive tackles for half of the season. They're deep enough that the absence of receiver Percy Harvin for all but 16 offensive snaps hasn't prevented Seattle from having the NFL's best record through 12 games.
On Sunday, Seattle will take the field in San Francisco with a chance to show just how much the pecking order in the NFC West has changed.
But the Seahawks are past the point of making a statement within the division or validating their success. Sunday is a chance to demonstrate the consistency they've developed.
"We just go out and play our game," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "Every week is a championship week. We go out there and play our ballgame. Execute. We go out and worry what we have to do and we don't worry about anything else."
Thursday, December 5, 2013 @ 8:58am
By Danny O'Neil
"Person of Interest" is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks' upcoming opponent. This week, it's San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick.
• Position: Multi-dimensional quarterback, potential cornerstone
• Height: 6-4
• Weight: 230
• Age: 26
• Experience: Third season
He began the season hailed as a cornerstone, one of four young quarterbacks who could be counted on to lead his team into the next generation.
Kaepernick was a second-round pick in 2011 who stepped in for Alex Smith halfway through last season and never looked back. He started seven games, led the 49ers to a pair of playoff victories and was one completion away from San Francisco winning a Super Bowl.
Things look a lot different one season later. Kaepernick is an undeniably explosive runner with a strong arm, but there are some rough edges in his game. He's got a hiccup in his delivery that results in a longer-than-ideal release and he has had three different games with a passer rating below 50.
Of course, he's also been piloting an offense that is noticeably devoid of receiving threats. Receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis are the only two players who have caught touchdown passes for the 49ers this season, though Michael Crabtree is now back from a torn Achilles tendon.
Whether Kaepernick will be a franchise cornerstone remains a question, but there is no doubt he is the wild card, an X-factor who can change the game.
Like Seattle, San Francisco seeks to establish the run game. Like the Seahawks, the 49ers then seek to run play-action passes off that run game. And like Russell Wilson, Kaepernick is a dual threat to both run and pass.
"He's shown a tremendous range of ability," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He can run it like crazy. He's a big, strong, fast guy who can run and get out and strike you dead. He's got a big arm."
Kaepernick has faced the Seahawks twice, both at CenturyLink Field, and he's 32-for-64 passing for a total of 371 yards, one touchdown and he has been intercepted four times. If the 49ers win Sunday, they're going to need a big performance from Kaepernick.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013 @ 1:51pm
By Brady Henderson
The blitz-heavy gameplan New Orleans employed Monday night didn't come as a surprise to the Seahawks or their quarterback.
"We knew that they were going to bring some pressure," Russell Wilson said after Seattle's 34-7 dismantling of the Saints. "We like the sense of pressure because there is a lot of green grass behind it."
There certainly was on one play, a 52-yard completion to Doug Baldwin that is the subject of this week's edition of "Chalk Talk" with Brock Huard.
The situation: The Saints had just scored what would be their only points of the game when the Seahawks began the ensuing drive on their own 16-yard line with a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter. After a pair of Marshawn Lynch runs and a New Orleans timeout, Seattle faced a third-and-3 from its own 23.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | 'The Pete Carroll Show'||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• O'Neil: Seahawks make a major statement||• Henderson: Carroll says K.J. Wright stood out||• Henderson: Avril, Bennett team up for TD||• Stecker: Saints' vaunted offense sputters|
The statement: "He did a perfect job," coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. "He saw it coming and he checked off to it. Then he changes the route and the protection and then makes the great throw and we get the great catch, too. All of that had to happen. It was exactly what we hoped would happen when they came after us, and he did it, and they slowed down and they didn't do it anymore.
"That's a real, real illustration of his maturity and where he's come, and he'll just continue to get better. But that was exactly what we would hope would happen. He saw it, executed it absolutely perfectly and we got a big play out of it."
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 @ 3:53pm
By Danny O'Neil
Three things we learned and three things we're still trying to figure out after the Seahawks improved to 11-1 win a 34-7 win over New Orleans on Monday.
1. The Seahawks' linebackers aren't liabilities.
The criticism that Seattle's linebackers struggle in coverage has been a common refrain, but one that needs to be rethought after the way Bobby Wagner and especially K.J. Wright played Monday night.
The Saints presented two unique matchup challenges in running back Darren Sproles and tight end Jimmy Graham, but Seattle didn't have to deviate from its standard defense to account for the two. Wright found himself repeatedly matched up against Graham, who finished with three receptions for 42 yards. Wright also sniffed out multiple screen plays as Seattle kept the Saints from finding any sort of rhythm in the passing game even when they looked to go underneath.
2. The effectiveness of Seattle's running game isn't necessarily measured by yards.
Russell Wilson led the Seahawks with 47 yards rushing and Marshawn Lynch averaged 2.8 yards on his 16 carries, his lowest in any game since the season opener at Carolina. But to call Seattle's running game ineffective would be to overlook the emphasis and resources the Saints dedicated to stopping Lynch, which created opportunities down the field for Seattle.
It's the reason tight end Zach Miller wound up wide open behind New Orleans' defense on third-and-1 in the first quarter, and it's the reason that Wilson was able to average more than 10 yards per passing attempt.
3. Percy Harvin's production is strictly a bonus this season.
The Seahawks' success does not depend on his participation in the offense, which is important.
Harvin sat out Monday's game because of soreness in his hip, the second time he has been slowed down in his recovery from hip surgery. It's clear Harvin's return isn't going to be a straight-line progression from one week to the next.
That doesn't mean Harvin won't contribute, and it doesn't mean he won't play more consistently, but if his hip was still too sore to play 15 days after he played his first game, well, that should be a sign that you can't pencil him in for 40 plays a week in the playoffs.
And as much as he would help, Harvin doesn't need to play 40 plays a week for this team to succeed. The Seahawks are 11-1 with him having been on the field for 16 offensive snaps and three kickoff returns, and on Monday against New Orleans, Seattle scored on five of its first six possessions.
Seattle's productivity is not contingent on Harvin's participation at this point.
1. Why do opponents think it's a good idea to blitz Russell Wilson?
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | 'The Pete Carroll Show'||• O'Neil: Seahawks make a major statement||• Huard: How Seahawks beat Saints' blitz||• Henderson: Carroll says K.J. Wright stood out||• Henderson: Avril, Bennett team up for TD||• Stecker: Saints' vaunted offense sputters|
The result? An adjustment by Wilson at the line of scrimmage and a 52-yard completion to Doug Baldwin.
The biggest progression in Wilson's game this year is his ability not just to recognize the blitz, but to make the opponent pay for it, and that was certainly the case against the Saints.
2. Why did the absences of Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner inspire so much fear heading into the game?
The long-term concern is clear. Seattle has now faced (repeated) discipline from the league with regard to banned substances, specifically on defense. But in terms of on-field implications, the only impact last week was that Thurmond would be out four weeks in the regular season.
After all, Browner remains injured and potentially unable to play. And after Monday's game, it's fair to say that Seattle is deep enough that not every absence is the cause for emergency considering how Seattle has played eight games without starting left tackle Russell Okung, seven games without starting right tackle Breno Giacomini and has had Harvin for only one game yet is 11-1.
3. What is the Seahawks' weak spot?
The defense held the Saints without a first down on five of their first six possessions and limited New Orleans to 188 yards of total offense, its lowest total in 10 years. The Seahawks' offense scored on five of its first six possessions and Wilson's two most effective performances – as judged by quarterback rating – have come in his last two games.
The single most jaw-dropping stat for this team, however, it much less obvious: Seattle has allowed a total of 15 yards on punt returns this season. That's the total over 12 games, which is nothing short of shocking.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013 @ 12:41pm
Linebacker K.J. Wright was the first player Pete Carroll mentioned after Seattle's 34-7 rout of New Orleans Monday night, singled out for the role he played in one of team's most complete defensive performances in recent memory.
"A bunch of guys played well," Carroll said, "but he jumped out."
The praise kept coming when the Seahawks' coach joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Brock and Danny" a day later and said that just like the rest of Seattle's defense, Wright didn't do anything out of the ordinary.
Linebacker K.J. Wright was a defensive standout in Seattle's 34-7 win over New Orleans. "A bunch of guys played well," coach Pete Carroll said, "but he jumped out." (AP)
Wright made six tackles, including one for loss, and helped contain Jimmy Graham, who was on pace for the most prolific season by a tight end in NFL history. While Graham scored New Orleans' only touchdown, he was targeted nine times and finished with three catches for 42 yards, marking one of his least productive games of the season.
Wright also swatted away what would have been a long touchdown reception, which Carroll said was an example of how his 6-foot-4 frame can be an asset in pass coverage.
"He's not as fast maybe as some of the guys that we have – although he can run really well – but he's so long that it just gives him an advantage," Carroll said. "It's kind of the same advantage that our corners have at times."
Bruce Irvin's move to strong-side linebacker pushed Wright to the weak side. It was a switch Wright embraced in part because he'd be playing off the line of scrimmage, taking on fewer blockers and thereby freed up to make more plays. Through 12 games he's third on the team in tackles with 77, which puts him on pace for the highest total of his three-year career.
Harvin update du jour
Carroll said wide receiver Percy Harvin was "feeling really good" Tuesday morning after missing Monday night's game because of discomfort in his surgically repaired hip.
Harvin missed Seattle's first 10 games before making his Seahawks debut in Week 11 against Minnesota, playing 16 offensive snaps and returning one kickoff in what was his first action in more than a year. Seattle had a bye the following week before hosting New Orleans, and Carroll reiterated that the reason Harvin didn't play was because of how his hip responded after his debut.
|• Recap | Stats | Photos | 'The Pete Carroll Show'||• O'Neil: What We Learned||• O'Neil: Seahawks make a major statement||• Huard: How Seahawks beat Saints' blitz||• Henderson: Avril, Bennett team up for TD||• Stecker: Saints' vaunted offense sputters|
That's been Carroll's refrain to what have been weekly questions about Harvin's ever-precarious status.
"Percy, there's nobody that wants to get out there more, and he'll do everything he can possibly do. He's done that," Carroll said. "He's done a marvelous job of rehabbing to get to this point. It's been frustrating, but he's going to pop out now. He's going to pop out of this thing. He's going to be ready here pretty quick, and we'll welcome him back when he gets in."
Wilson in the MVP discussion
Russell Wilson played one of his best games of the season Monday night, a three-touchdown, 310-yard and zero-turnover performance that added up to a 139.6 rating and also strengthened his MVP candidacy.
He's now thrown for 22 touchdowns to six interceptions, has a 108.5 rating that ranks third in the NFL and is as big a reason as any that the 11-1 Seahawks own the league's best record. Carroll said that while Wilson deserves to be in the discussion for the league's most prestigious annual award, it's not something he's worried about.
"I think what usually happens is the teams that have the most success really kind of attract that kind of attention. There's no question he's playing that kind of football and if we can continue to go then he'll be in the discussion," Carroll said.
"Really, it's fun and that's cool and all of that, but that don't matter. It really doesn't, and I think Russell would tell you the same thing. If it comes, it comes. But right now he's just trying to have fun playing football and keep leading this team."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
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