NFC Notes: 49ers, Rams, Seahawks, Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson


49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk has come on strong recently since an early-season stay in HC Kyle Shanahan‘s doghouse. Statistically, he was better as a rookie still. But Aiyuk believes as a player he’s much improved. 

“(I’m) getting better, definitely getting better,” Aiyuk said via NBC Sports’ Matt Maiocco. “I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I was at this point last year.”

“He’s better in the run game, better in the pass game,” Shanahan added. “He’s much more consistent, and he’s getting better each week — going on for four or five weeks in a row. There are plenty of times that stats will fool you, especially when guy’s stats are dependent on other people a lot. We got a lot more confidence in him than we did last year.”


Regarding Rams OLB Von Miller‘s lack of production since being acquired, HC Sean McVay responded that they haven’t done well “controlling the tempo” of games. 

“I think the first thing is, is that we’re not doing a good enough job of controlling the tempo of the game and getting leads where you can really unleash your pass rush,” McVay said, TheRamsWire. 

McVay added that their defense has become “one dimensional” over the last few weeks and that teams are doing well to plan around Miller, Aaron Donald, and Leonard Floyd. 

“Where you see it expressed in its best form is when you get people into their playing from behind, they become one dimensional, unfortunately like we’ve had to become in these last few games. Teams are being efficient. They’re able to kind of get the ball out in a quick manner on some of these third-and-manageables. You look at Aaron, I thought the Niners did a nice job. Even Tennessee being able to control it. It really goes back to, we’ve been giving them short fields. Those teams have been able to get leads and then they can slow the pace of the game, which minimizes the approach. You look at these good coaches in this league, too. Everybody’s going to always have a plan for Aaron. You see some of the most unique ways of protecting and doubling and tripling him and lending extra presence for those interior players wherever 99 is. And then you see the ascension of Leonard Floyd over the last couple of years. He’s garnered attention. And then obviously Von, his resume speaks for itself. But I think in its simplest form, we haven’t had enough opportunities where you’re forcing teams to have to hold the ball and really get into those known passing downs frequently enough. I think a large part of that is because of some of the turnovers offensively where we’re really playing from behind. That allows those teams to be able to control the pace of the game and you’re not getting as many rush ops.”


Regarding the offense’s struggles in Week 13’s loss to the Washington Football Team, Seahawks HC Pete Carroll believes QB Russell Wilson was throwing too hard at times, which prevented them from converting “three specific third-down situations.”

“As we went through it, and we watched it together, there’s a few plays in there on the shorter passing game that he just really tried to drill the football and maybe threw it a little too hard, harder than normal,” Carroll said, via ProFootballTalk. “Trying to make sure the ball was there and crisp and all that. The balls down the field he threw the ball really well. On the move, really well. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be, and it showed up on three specific third-down situations that all could’ve been very convertible for us. That’s just as we looked at it. Easily corrected. Easily corrected. He feels great. He does not feel like he’s burdened by the surgery from the past and all that. He’s ready to go.”

Carroll said that their offense must be more consistent and execute more effectively on third downs. 

“We need to be consistent with the throws and make sure that he’s hitting the guys when he gets his chance, specifically on third down, that’s just been an Achilles heel for us,” Carroll said. “We need to get out of this thing and get going and get moving. We had those five series in a row, five chances with the football that we didn’t get anything done. Those are all opportunities to convert. In those situations, they were very makeable. We had one third-and-8, and third-and 5 or less on the rest of them. Those are situations we need to excel at. We expect to and we’re not settling for anything but that.”

  • NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo points out Carroll is under contract through 2025 on the extension he just signed last year and has shown no inclination of stepping down even though he’s over 70. 
  • He adds Wilson was agitated after making the playoffs last year, so it’s easy to surmise missing the playoffs in 2021 won’t make him feel any better about his situation in Seattle. Garafolo notes Wilson’s issues aren’t just related to Carroll. 
  • Garafolo mentions Seahawks owner Jody Allen is involved, contrary to public perception, and she’s not happy. She also does not view the Seahawks’ struggles as merely a one-year thing in 2021, which is important to note as the team charts a way forward. 
  • Garafolo also points out that when he’s talked to people around the Seahawks about the future, they point out Wilson is still under contract for 2022 and Seattle has the ability to franchise tag him after that. 

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