The assumption was logical.
Christine Michael’s resurgence in his second go-round with the team plus Thomas Rawls’ return from injury would equal a dynamic Seahawks running game – despite the retirement of Marshawn Lynch.
Ah, but we all know what happens when we assume.
The Seahawks especially are trying to figure out what’s wrong with their rushing offense. Seattle averaged just 2.8 yards per carry in last weekend’s dismal 9-3 loss at Los Angeles. It is getting only 3.1 yards per rush so far.
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“We’ve got to get our running game more effective, like we’ve always liked it to be,” coach Pete Carroll said heading into Sunday’s game between Seattle (1-1) and San Francisco (1-1) at CenturyLink Field. “So we’re going to make sure we focus there.”
The current view isn’t scenic. The offensive line with new starters in four of five positions and a fill-in right guard, J’Marcus Webb, has been generally getting stalemated when not blown back at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes, they have stood around not blocking anyone while their backs have been getting mauled.
Michael shined Sunday at Los Angeles with 6 yards per carry. But even though Rawls was on the sideline for the final 2 1/2 quarters with a bruised leg from getting kicked by a Ram, Michael got only 10 carries among Seattle’s 61 offensive plays.
Rawls came back to start the Sept. 11 opener against Miami, his first start since he broke his ankle Dec. 13. But last year’s NFL leader in yards per rush (5.6) had just 32 yards on 12 carries against the Dolphins. That mere 2.7 yards per carry was dynamic compared to what happened to the offense in Los Angeles.
Rawls ran seven times for minus-7 yards. He often had multiple Rams in his face as he took handoffs from quarterback Russell Wilson. Rawls’ status for this weekend is unknown.
“I think that’s part of what we anticipated seeing his input, which in compliment to Christian, who is doing a nice job,” Carroll said. “I think it’s going to be a nice one-two punch. We just need to get him back out there.”
And Seattle and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell simply need to call more running plays. The Seahawks have thrown 78 passes and run the ball 56 times.
Throwing it 39 times a game with a quarterback on a sprained ankle in low-scoring, defensive battles is not Carroll’s style of Seahawks football.
Wilson is integral to the running game. His read-option plays and frequent keepers around end gain yards and keep defenses from charging in solely on Seattle’s running backs. But the sprained ankle Wilson got when Miami’s Ndamukong Suh charged inside right tackle Garry Gilliam and sacked him in the third quarter of the opener has for now all but eliminated Wilson keeping the ball on running plays.
Seahawks’ next opponent
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (1-1)
1:05 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field
Line: Seahawks by 9 1/2.
Against the Seahawks: San Francisco has lost the past five meetings – including the NFC championship game in January 2015, in Seattle – and has lost seven of the past eight dating to the end of the 2012 season. The 49ers trail the all-time series in regular season, 19-15. They last won in Seattle on Dec. 24, 2011, 19-17, during the only non-playoff season Pete Carroll has had as the Seahawks’ coach.
What to know: The 49ers smashed the Rams, 28-0, at home in their opener and first game under new coach Chip Kelly – then got smashed, 46-27, at Carolina last week. … All four NFC West teams are 1-1. … The 49ers’ defense has been attacking more – and taking the ball away. San Francisco’s six takeaways are its most through two games since 2003 – and are six more than Seattle’s renowned defense has. … The Niners forced four turnovers by the Panthers last week. … San Francisco leads the NFL with 34 points scored off turnovers. … Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is returning to where he tore the anterior and medial-collateral ligaments in his left knee during that NFC title game at CenturyLink Field in January 2014. He missed all the following season because of that – and has said he remembers Seahawks fans throwing popcorn on him as he got taken off the field injured that day. … The 49ers are allowing 120.5 yards rushing per game through two weeks, 25th in the NFL in run defense so far. … San Francisco’s early average of 311 yards of offense is 27th in the league. Blaine Gabbert, still ahead of Colin Kaepernick on San Francisco’s depth chart, has thrown for just 413 total yards in two games. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes last week at Carolina (17 for 36, with five drops). He had two late interceptions, two touchdown passes and a running score. … “Up and down,” Kelly called the performance of Gabbert last week – and of his entire offense. … San Francisco rallied from down 31-10 after three quarters to within 34-27, thanks to those four Panthers turnovers, before Gabbert’s interceptions doomed the comeback. …The 49ers had only two scoring drives of more than 11 yards at Carolina. … Tight end Vance McDonald had a 75-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown from Gabbert last week at Carolina. Last November, the last time the Niners played at Seattle, McDonald scored his first career TD on a 19-yard pass from Gabbert. It was San Francisco’s only TD as the Seahawks won, 29-13. … Carlos Hyde has yet to become the big-time runner the 49ers drafted him to be. The former Ohio State star has 122 yards through two games.
Quotable: “He’s our starter. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Blaine. We’re not thinking or talking about not having Blaine in there. It’s about everybody on offense playing better right now.” – Kelly, when asked by Bay Area reporters the day after San Francisco’s loss at Carolina if the 49ers were considering replacing Gabbert with Kaepernick at quarterback.
Gregg Bell: firstname.lastname@example.org