Seattle plans no changes for season finale

Even with Seattle’s playoffs hopes gone, Pete Carroll doesn’t

intend on using the final week of the regular season as a trial to

see what the Seahawks might have for next year.

After all, the Seahawks’ late-season run that got them back into

the playoff conversation was centered largely on young players with

a future in Seattle.

”I don’t think we’re changing anything in that regard. We’re

going to try to win the football game,” Carroll said Monday. ”To

look at something for the future is not on our minds at all. We

want to come back and play another good game of football.”

Seattle’s slim playoff hopes were dashed Saturday in a 19-17

loss to NFC West champion San Francisco. The Seahawks (7-8) were

going to need plenty of help from others to even have postseason

hopes going into the final week, but David Akers’ fourth field goal

of the game gave the 49ers the lead with 2:57 left and Seattle

couldn’t answer.

The Seahawks best chance ended when quarterback Tarvaris Jackson

was stripped from behind by San Francisco linebacker Larry Grant

with just over a minute remaining and Donte Whitner fell on the

loose ball at the 49ers 36.

It was the second time in the last month Seattle lost at home

after leading in the fourth quarter – both losses big reasons why

the Seahawks’ playoff hopes are finished heading into the final

week of the season.

”We had plenty of opportunities to win the game but we didn’t

make those plays when it came down to it, and obviously we have to

make those plays,” Jackson said. ”We have to be able to grow and

mature and make those plays when it really counts.”

Within the loss, Seattle continued the offensive progress

centered on the run game that’s been clearly apparent during the

latter half of the regular season. The Seahawks became the first

team this season to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers

when Marshawn Lynch scooted around the left end for 4 yards to give

Seattle a 17-16 lead with 6:41 left.

On Seattle’s next-to-last drive – which ended with Jackson’s

fumble – Lynch became the first 100-yard rusher against San

Francisco since November 2009 when Ryan Grant topped the 100-mark

for Green Bay.

While it came in a loss, Carroll felt that might have been the

most impressive performance by Seattle’s run game during its

rediscovery in the second half of the season.

”I think it’s something that we do take some pride in because

they are very, very well-schemed and very well-equipped and they

take great pride in it as well. Anybody that goes for a couple

years without giving up a 100-yard rusher and stuff – that’s a

good, talented group of people,” Carroll said. ”So I don’t care

about those accomplishments so much, but I like the fact that we

were consistently able to get some movement.”

Seattle’s ability to run on the 49ers gained most of the

headlines, but San Francisco’s run game was even more successful

gashing the Seahawks unlike any other team this season. The 49ers

had 178 yards rushing, the most allowed by the Seahawks this season

and the fifth straight week a team has topped 100 yards on the

ground against Seattle.

Carroll expected that Frank Gore would have a good game and he

did, rushing for 83 yards and a 4-yard touchdown run on the first

drive of the second half. What Seattle didn’t expect was backup

Kendall Hunter to run for a season-high 73 yards on just 12 carries

and churn off chunks of yardage especially out of the shotgun

formation. Before Saturday, Hunter had topped 40 yards rushing only

once this season.

”I think his 70 yards were yards we didn’t want to give up. If

we gave up 80 yards or 90 yards to Gore we would say that’s a

pretty solid game against them, but him getting to 70 or whatever

it was made a really big difference,” Carroll said.

Along with Hunter’s contribution, Carroll pointed out the 22

yards that quarterback Alex Smith ran for as being critical.

Smith had a 10-yard, third-down scramble that setup a

fourth-and-2 situation on the first drive of the second half. Smith

then bought time on the fourth-down play and found Vernon Davis for

16 yards, and three plays later Gore scored to pull San Francisco

even at 10. On the 49ers next drive, Smith’s 12-yard scramble on

third-down kept alive a drive that concluded with Akers’ 29-yard

field goal that gave San Francisco the lead.

”Alex did a nice job. I really thought that he was the

difference in the game for them,” Carroll said.

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