Among the many reasons Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was excited about Sunday’s 37-27 victory over the 49ers is that Seattle got the win despite being pretty severely short-handed — and that he knew reinforcements were coming soon.
Monday, Carroll said the Seahawks should get back two defensive starters for the game Sunday at Buffalo — defensive end Rasheem Green and strong safety Jamal Adams.
Carroll said last week that Green would need to wait until this week to return from a neck/stinger issue, and on his radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle on Monday, Carroll confirmed Green is expected back.
He also said of Adams, who has missed four games with a groin injury, that “he’s going to go full practice this week.” Carroll hedged just slightly on Adams for sure playing Sunday, though, noting that he needs to avoid any setbacks in practice. But assuming that happens, then Adams should be back.
When he talked to media members via Zoom later Monday, Carroll said Adams will be on a pitch count in practices this week and might have to be on one Sunday if he plays (Ryan Neal has filled in ably in his place).
“We’ll take each day one day at a time to see how he responds,” Carroll said. “The next day, it’s really important the signals that he sends us.”
Seattle also should get another starting-caliber defensive player this week with Carlos Dunlap expected to be eligible to practice by Wednesday, assuming he passes the league’s COVID-19 testing protocol.
Carroll said Monday that Dunlap should be able to enter the team’s facility in Renton on Tuesday and begin practice Wednesday.
Carroll also said he expects defensive end Benson Mayowa, who missed the game Sunday with an ankle injury, will make it back.
The news was iffier about cornerback Shaquill Griffin and nickel corner Ugo Amadi. Carroll said Griffin’s concussion is no longer a real issue but that his hamstring is. “Got a little hamstring,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how that goes.”
Amadi likewise is dealing with a hamstring injury, and Carroll said “he might not make it this weekend.”
That would mean another start at nickel for D.J. Reed, who was activated Saturday and played 36 of 70 defensive snaps Sunday and had an interception in the first quarter to stop a San Francisco drive at the Seattle 14.
Unclear if Carson and Hyde will return this week
The running-back situation remains murky as Carroll said he didn’t know yet whether Chris Carson (foot) or Carlos Hyde (hamstring) will make it back this week.
Of the two, Carroll indicated Carson has the best shot, saying he won’t do anything until Friday when the team will reassess things.
“He’s got a sore foot that’s getting better and feeling better,” Carroll said. “We’re talking right now that we’ll take a look at him on Friday, and see how he handles it, and how he feels Saturday after he runs on it on Friday.”
Carroll indicated Hyde won’t make it back.
“Carlos has got a hamstring he’s trying to come back from,” Carroll said. “It’s hard to get that done in a couple weeks time. So we’ll see.”
But Carroll said Travis Homer, who was able to play seven snaps Sunday despite a bruised knee, should be able to play more against the Bills.
Carroll said Homer came out for pregame “like he needed a cane” but that he gutted it out to play some and “saved us a little bit.” Carroll said the next option at tailback would have been fullback Nick Bellore.
Rookie DeeJay Dallas got the start with Carson and Hyde out and played 54 of 68 offensive snaps.
Seattle is expected to add 2016 fifth-round draft choice Alex Collins to the practice squad this week as depth once he clears COVID-19 protocol.
And at some point over the next few weeks, the Seahawks also could add Rashaad Penny, their first-round choice in 2018, who remains on the physically unable to perform list recovering from knee surgery.
Carroll said Penny “is really close” but said he is now in “that final push” to show he can perform football moves on the knee such as running and cutting and changing direction. “Just a matter of getting over the hump,” Carroll said.
Carroll also said it’s unclear if guard Mike Iupati will make it back this week. But he noted Jordan Simmons has played well in three starts in place of Iupati, which allows them to be patient with Iupati and his balky back.
Dorsett’s foot not responding and he could be out a while
Receiver Phillip Dorsett II remains on injured reserve, and Carroll made it sound Monday as if he might stay there a while because Dorsett’s foot injury is not getting better.
“Phillip Dorsett is not doing well,” Carroll said. “His foot has really not responded.”
Dorsett signed a one-year deal in the spring with the thought he’d contend for the third receiver role, and earned some raves the first couple weeks of camp, with Carroll at one point saying he was the fastest player the Seahawks have had.
But it was around that time that Dorsett began having issues with his foot. He has not played this season and was placed on IR on Sept. 22. Players can be called up from IR anytime after three weeks, but it doesn’t sound like that will happen, with Carroll instead hinting Dorsett might be out for the long term.
“It’s not ready to be disclosed yet what’s going on, but it’s not looking good for the near future,” Carroll said. “He’s been doing everything he can and he’s frustrated and all that. In the next couple of days we’ll get a little more clarity on it.”
David Moore has come on to secure the third receiver spot, and rookie Freddie Swain also has flashed, but Seattle otherwise has no real experienced depth at receiver.
Snacks is competing but still biding his time
There was much surprise Saturday when the Seahawks did not elevate veteran tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison off the practice squad after Carroll had said Friday that he’d had his best week of practice.
But Carroll had foreshadowed that it wasn’t a given Harrison would play, noting that the team’s defensive tackle rotation (Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone) has worked out well so far, especially defending the run, which is what would be Harrison’s primary role.
Carroll reiterated Monday that Harrison is getting into the needed football shape but that there simply remains the question of fitting him onto the roster.
“Snacks had, like I told you guys, his best week,” Carroll said. “He’s competing, ready, looking for his opportunity. For a guy just all of a sudden gets put on the roster, there’s got to be a spot for him. So Snacks understands that, and the guys are doing a nice job inside. So he’s ready to go. The readiest he’s been. I can’t wait to see him again this week and see if he can add to that.
“He’s been really on a get-back-in-football-condition (mode) for the time he’s been with us and he’s working at it really hard to get it done. He’s been a fantastic member of the club and working hard, great attitude, helping young guys, the whole thing. And when his opportunity jumps he’s gonna be ready to go.”
Taking the pressure off led to 49ers’ late points
While the Seahawks blitzed on 23 of 45 dropbacks, their highest percentage since 2010 according to ESPN, Carroll said Seattle played more conservatively during the fourth quarter, when the 49ers drove for three touchdowns. It was something he said he regrets.
“Four-man rush has not been effective enough in those situations and that’s an issue,” Carroll said. ” … We need to help them (on defense) more and we will.”
The 49ers passed on all but one play in the fourth quarter with Nick Mullens completing 18 of 25 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns.
“Guys are throwing the ball every down because they are two scores, three scores behind,” Carroll said. “And we have to help our players more. We are going to do some stuff to help them.”
Figuring out 49ers blitzing smoothed out slow offensive start
As for the offense, Carroll said Seattle’s slow start — punts after each of its first two drives with just 5 total yards — was due in part to a few missed assignments on the 49ers’ blitzes with their defensive backs, and especially from the slot.
Carroll said of one blitz by nickel corner K’Waun Williams that “we just missed it.”
Carroll said things changed when the Seahawks realized that was something the 49ers “were going to feature” and Russell Wilson was making sure “to look for the guy coming off the slot.”
The Williams sack came on the second play of the game and Wilson was sacked just one other time with Seattle then scoring on five of its next six possessions (the only one they didn’t was a three-and-out late in the first half) following the first two.