So how do the Seahawks solve their offensive woes that have resulted in six straight quarters without an offensive touchdown?
Hopefully, coach Pete Carroll said Monday afternoon, by taking the reins off quarterback Geno Smith and the training wheels off the team’s two rookie tackles.
Carroll said the Seahawks entered Sunday’s game at San Francisco with something of a conservative game plan, in part to “protect” against a 49ers pass rush that he feels “is as good as we’ll face.”
And what the Seahawks particularly wanted to protect was rookie left tackle Charles Cross and right tackle Abraham Lucas going against 49ers standout Nick Bosa, among others.
“We didn’t want to open it up and expose the tackles any more than we had to,” Carroll said.
So that led to a game plan largely favoring shorter, quicker pass routes.
Like most things Sunday, that didn’t work as the 49ers beat the Seahawks 27-7, with Seattle’s only score coming on a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.
The Seahawks moved past midfield only three times on nine possessions and have now gone 12 possessions without scoring a point, throwing out a kneel-down series at the end of the Denver game.
Carroll felt in retrospect, “We could have thrown the football more with the opportunities that we had,” saying the 49ers were “laying off and giving us some room” to make some plays in the passing game.
So going forward, Carroll said, the Seahawks will be more aggressive, a responsibility Smith — who has completed 81% of his passes, 47 for 58 — has earned the right to be trusted with through his play in the first two games.
“He’s clearly in command of it and poised, and we need to not hold back at all,” Carroll said. “… With the trust that we have in him, we need to do that and so when it’s given to us we’ve got to take advantage of it. We don’t have to hold back at all.”
And Carroll said Lucas and Cross showed they also could have handled being asked to do a bit more in the passing game.
Smith was sacked twice — both by Bosa, who had five quarterback hits. But Carroll said overall, he felt Lucas and Cross held up well (Pro Football Focus credited guards Phil Haynes and Gabe Jackson with allowing one sack each).
“They did all right,” Carroll said of Cross and Lucas. “That’s as good as a rush that you will see. That’s really encouraging, so we can keep moving.”
Of course, it would have helped greatly Sunday if the Seahawks could have run the ball better, something they thought they might be able to do. Seattle was held to just 36 yards on 14 carries, 2.6 per attempt, with a longest gain of 8.
“We want to get the running game more active and make it more part of the game,” Carroll said.
The offense wasn’t solely to blame Sunday.
The Seahawks allowed 189 yards rushing, the most since allowing 212 in an overtime loss to Tennessee in the second game of the 2021 season when Derrick Henry had 182. As Carroll noted, 51 came on a first-quarter run by Deebo Samuel in which Darrell Taylor missed a tackle in the backfield.
“We’ve got the guy in the backfield; we’ve got to get him down,” Carroll said.
Take that play out, and the 49ers had 138 yards on their other 44 carries, or 3.1 per attempt, which the Seahawks could live with just fine.
Still, Carroll said of the run defense in the team’s new 3-4 scheme — and a new inside linebacker tandem of Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton — that “we’re still working together to get stuff right.”
And then there were those 10 penalties, six of which gave the 49ers first downs, including three for pass interference (two on cornerback Michael Jackson, one on cornerback Coby Bryant) and another for illegal contact (Bryant).
Carroll said inexperience might have played a role — Bryant is a rookie and Jackson in his first year as a starter.
“It’s really comfort in the moment that they’ve got the coverage,” Carroll said. “And that they don’t need to do anything beyond that. Our calls have all been really judgmental, close calls, one way or the other. Our guys just have to be a little more finesse-oriented, a little bit better.”
Carroll said he could have done a better job, too.
During his radio show on Seattle Sports 710 Monday morning, Carroll admitted that maybe the big win over Denver the previous Monday and the subsequent celebration took a toll.
Carroll said when the practice week began Wednesday, “We were still a little bit foggy. … That was a big win and we had a lot of fun on that thing and I needed to do better, too. If I could feel it then certainly they’re feeling it and we needed to overcome that with good play, and we didn’t.”
Shelby Harris, Damien Lewis injury updates
Seattle had two players leave Sunday’s game because of injuries — defensive end Shelby Harris (glute) and guard Damien Lewis (thigh).
Here’s what Carroll said Monday: “Damien is pretty sore. He has a good thigh bruise going here, so we will have to see how that transitions the next few days. Shelby, I called it a hamstring by the way that they pointed at it, but it’s really a glute. We will have to wait and see; we don’t know about that yet.”