Seahawks fill-in free safety Steven Terrell played well on Sunday against the 49ers, can he keep it going against Detroit in the Wild Card round?
While Terrell didn’t make any big plays–no interceptions, forced fumbles, or ejections–all of the most successful pass plays by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick were underneath on busted coverages by the linebackers.
San Francisco didn’t get much of anything deep down the middle of the field all game. Kaepernick, to his credit, managed to complete passes between the numbers, sure, but not because of Terrell.
Terrell is no Earl Thomas, obviously. No one is Earl Thomas. No one shuts down the middle of the field like Thomas, who seems to know where the ball is going before the quarterback does on some plays, and is still rightly regarded as one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the league.
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I could go on for about 3,000 more words about my love for ET3. His injury’s effect on the Seahawks‘ defense is well-documented, but there’s hope for the Legion of Boom.
Terrell has been Thomas’ understudy since 2014. Obviously, because of Earl’s 106-game starting streak that was broken along with his leg this year, Terrell didn’t see much meaningful action until this season.
His start was inauspicious. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton went right at him and dropped a bomb to Ted Ginn for a long touchdown the next play after Thomas exited with his injury. Terrell whiffed on a coverage against the Cardinals to allow receiver JJ Nelson to score on a back-breaking 80-yard play on Christmas Eve.
The 49ers are nothing special, as their 2-14 record shows. However, Terrell showed some promise protecting the end zone against San Francisco.
On Saturday, Terrell will face a much tougher opponent. Quarterback Matt Stafford hasn’t thrown for as many yards this season as his chuck-it-to-Megatron glory days, but his 10 interceptions this year are a career-low. (He threw one INT in 2010 in three games.)
Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard was put in a difficult spot after Thomas broke his leg–he now has to construct a new strategy to adjust to non-All-Pro play at free safety for the first time.
Perhaps Terrell has finally settled into his impossible role. He’s not Earl Thomas, but maybe he’s good enough to help the Seahawks win anyway. This is still a defense capable of overwhelming opponents.