The line helped clear the way for rookie Thomas Rawls to rush for 209 yards, the second-best total in Seahawks history. Has Seattle's offensive front turned a corner?
RENTON — Right tackle Garry Gilliam said the meaning of the Seahawks’ win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and rushing for 255 yards were clear.
“That’s us getting back to our identity,” he said. “Reclaiming our identity.”
It could be said the game also marked a chance for this incarnation of the Seahawks offensive line to finally begin to make a name for itself.
The progress of a line featuring new starters at three spots has been a constant source of conversation this season as the Seahawks have gotten off to a surprisingly meandering start.
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Though the linemen usually insist they have shrugged off the talk, coach Pete Carroll said with a hint of sarcasm Monday that all of the discussion has left “a subtle impression.”
There was nothing understated about the Seahawks’ play Sunday, though, as the line helped clear the way for rookie Thomas Rawls to rush for 209 yards, the second-best total in Seahawks history.
“Just really fired up that they are making progress,” Carroll said Monday. “It was good to come in here (to the team meeting room) and tell them in front of the whole team that they did a great job. They’ve been listening to it for a while, and it was good to get on the other side of it.”
Gilliam said he never doubted such a day was coming.
“Every week, I’ve said in every interview I’ve had each week it’s just a matter of progressing and continuing to do what we do well.”
No doubt it helped that they were facing a struggling 49ers team (3-7) that lost defensive end Glenn Dorsey to a knee injury early.
Still, the 49ers had held the Atlanta Falcons to 17 yards rushing in a 17-16 win Nov. 8.
And the Seahawks entered the game with questions of how Rawls would do in his third start in place of injured Marshawn Lynch.
The answer came quickly, as Rawls took a short pass on the third play of the game and ran over 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock on his way to a 12-yard gain to set the stage for a historic day.
It was a day that also might have foreshadowed the Seahawks’ future with uncertainty lingering over the status of Lynch.
Lynch will be examined by Dr. William C. Meyers, a sports-hernia specialist, to determine the extent of an abdominal injury that held him out of the game. Speculation increased Monday that Lynch could require surgery that would sideline him for the season and could end his Seattle career.
Quarterback Russell Wilson said Monday he didn’t want to consider that scenario.
But he also said he has full confidence in Rawls to carry the weight the rest of the way if needed.
Wilson said Rawls’ performance Sunday “was not a surprise to any of us. His work ethic is unbelievable.”
Rawls has rushed for 100 or more yards three times this season and has 604 yards on 101 carries, 6.0 per attempt. Lynch has 417 yards on 111 carries, 3.8 per attempt.
No one will say the Seahawks won’t miss Lynch if he’s gone for the season.
But the numbers make it worth wondering if there’s something about Rawls’ game that makes him a better fit right now for Seahawks.
The Seahawks’ offense includes many zone-blocking schemes that put a premium on communication and teamwork among the linemen, and then on the running back to make the proper read and quick cut into the opening.
“You really feel Thomas, his first read and then his second read he puts his foot in the ground and goes,” Carroll said. “He’s not as likely to try to make a guy miss as Marshawn is. Marshawn will fool you and fake you and all that kind of stuff.”
Gilliam said the change in running backs required no change in tactics up front.
“We block it the same regardless,’’ Gilliam said. “It’s just the way they read. What they do is different for them, but it’s the same for us. Whatever runner is back there we trust them to make the right cuts and do what they’ve got to do.”
After the big day by Rawls, the Seahawks are averaging 148.6 rushing yards per game, which again places them atop the NFL in rushing, a title they also held at the end of last season, another identity reclaimed.