If you’re looking for guys on the end of the roster like third team quarterback Josh Portis, offensive lineman Jarriel King and safety Jeron Johnson to get more playing time this week with Seattle officially out of the playoffs, you might have to wait to see those guys again next preseason.
“We don’t plan on changing,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “We want to see if we can finishing this thing off right and get a win there. It’s going to be very difficult. Arizona’s playing great football right now. But we’re going for it. We’re not shifting gear or changing. We’re not going to try and learn a whole bunch in one game of new things. We’re going to try and continue to finish this year out the way we’ve set a pace here now.”
Carroll said the team won’t know more about Ben Obomanu’s strained knee until Wednesday.
Marshawn Lynch has a sore ankle that he’ll have to deal with this week, Carroll added.
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For more evidence on how far San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith has risen in stature over a calendar year, take a look at Carroll’s comments about the Niners’ quarterback.
“I really thought that he was the difference in the game for them,” Carroll said. “ I thought his ability to extend plays, and to give them a second chance – to give them a chance where they could go for it on fourth down on a big scramble where we had him kind of trapped back there. And also on the fourth down play keeping it alive and eventually hitting the tight end (Vernon Davis) for a first down.
“Those were plays that he made that really were effective in this game.”
Carroll gave props to the Niners for their ability to consistently run the ball. San Francisco finished with 178 total yards on the ground, the most Seattle gave up all season.
Frank Gore finished with 83 yards on 23 carries, while Kendall Hunter added 73 yards and Smith scrambled for 22 yards.
“They knew what they were doing, they schemed well and they did a good job,” Carroll said. “They’re not a typical running football team in that they have a lot more scheme involved than other teams. But they’re doing a nice job and they’ve been effective all year.”
Carroll wasn’t concerned about the yards Gore accumulated, but took issue with how much Hunter gained.
“If we gave up 80 yards or 90 yards to Gore we would’ve expected that, and that would’ve been a pretty solid game against them,” Carroll said. “But him getting 73 or 75 or whatever it was, that was a big difference.”
Another thing Seattle improved on this season was keeping games competitive. Seattle’s average margin of defeat this year was 10.6 points a game. Last season Seattle lost nine regular season games by at least 16 points or more.
“Our season has been much different than last season was,” Carroll said. “We battled in a different fashion and I think we’re growing. I think hopefully we’ll be able to take a big step next year."
One example of Seattle’s roster depth being built up is rookie linebacker Mike Morgan, a USC product that went through training cam with Seattle and eventually was added to the practice squad. Morgan has been a special teams contributor for Seattle down the back stretch of the season.
“He’s got some rush to him and he plays the ‘Sam’ backer spot in our system,” Carroll said. “But if he had to he could jump over and play some ‘Will’. And he’s been with Brian Schneider before on special teams so he has carryover there as well and he can do a lot of things for us there because he’s such a good athlete.”