Seattle Seahawks: Grading Geno Smith’s laudable Wild Card performance
By Jake Luppino
The Seattle Seahawks fairytale season has officially come to an end. They didn’t get the storybook ending they were hoping for. And no, I’m not referring to winning the Super Bowl. I am referring to ending the San Francisco 49ers season.
In their 41-23 defeat suffered in San Francisco, the flaws and youth of this team were on full display. Even though this was the third matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers, Seattle knew they would have to play a perfect game in order to win this. Meaning, no turnovers, and no penalties. The one thing they could absolutely not do was shoot themselves in the foot.
For Geno Smith, he was tasked with putting together an all-time performance in order to pull off an upset on the road against one of the prohibited favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Although he didn’t deliver, there were some really bright moments for him in this game. It was truly a tale of two halves for Geno and this young Seattle Seahawks team.
Evaluating Seattle Seahawks Geno Smith’s Wild Card
The Seattle Seahawks outplayed the San Francisco 49ers in the 1st half of this game. In large part due to a nearly perfect first half by Geno Smith. With only 1 incompletion in the first 30 minutes of play, Geno was able to respond to a 10-0 deficit early and lead 2 straight scoring drives to give his team the lead.
After 2 three-and-outs, Geno was able to put together a sustaining offensive drive to give his defense some rest. A 14-play, 78-drive capped off with a Kenneth Walker III rushing touchdown seemed to have turned the tide in Seattle’s favor. On that drive and on the ensuing one, Geno gained control at the line of scrimmage. The mixture of play calling by Shane Waldron and playmaking by Geno Smith provided a much-needed spark against the NFL’s best defense.
The Niners’ defense was showing many different looks at the line of scrimmage early on. It certainly makes sense given the youth on the edges for the Seahawks. But, to Seattle’s credit, they seemed to have dealt with the pressure well early on. In fact, on the go-ahead touchdown to D.K. Metcalf, the Seahawks took advantage of San Francisco stacking the box. Great recognition by Geno, really nice protection up front, and perfect execution. Getting it to D.K. Metcalf early and often resulted in him having a monster day.
In the third quarter on the potential go-ahead drive, Geno Smith’s fumble on 3rd and 14 changed the trajectory of this game. The sequence leading up to the turnover really set the tone for the second half. On what should have been a 3rd and 2, the Seahawks were pushed back 5 yards to 2nd and 14 on an ineligible man downfield call. A call that not many were happy with. On 2nd and 14, Geno just misses D.K. Metcalf on a go route, where there was a lot of contact. On the ensuing play, the pocket collapses and Geno fumbles the ball.
San Francisco was able to capitalize by scoring a touchdown, going up 14. The youth of this Seahawks team then kicked in. Penalties and turnovers are what defined the 2nd half blowout. The 49ers had the best turnover differential in the league entering this game. In fact, in games where they do not have a turnover, they are undefeated. San Francisco does not beat itself.
While the fumble is certainly Geno’s fault, we cannot make more of this game than what it was. Despite the magical season put together by Smith, it isn’t far to have expected him to play perfectly in this game. The defense certainly didn’t do him any favors. Although they held strong on early drives, keeping San Francisco to just 3, they weren’t able to get off the field without surrendering points. Putting even more pressure on Geno and this Seahawks offense. Eventually, the superior roster took over this game and eliminated the Seattle Seahawks.
In his first playoff start, Geno proved that he belonged. He showed many around this league that the Seahawks do not need to address the quarterback position in the offseason. The problems lie on the defensive side of the ball. Geno got my stamp of approval based on his performance.