Snaps fell for Seahawks' Carlson

Wednesday was apparently John Carlson day at Seahawks headquarters.

The talented second-year tight end hasn't caught many passes lately, leading to quite a few stories (1, 2, 3, 4) investigating why.

John Carlson's pace

Seahawks tight end John Carlson is on pace to finish his second NFL season with slightly less production that last season, when the team had fewer viable wide receivers as options in the passing game.

Unlike his 49ers counterpart, Vernon Davis, Carlson is not an every-down player for Seattle. The team used personnel groups without any tight ends on a season-high 23.9 percent of snaps against the 49ers in Week 13. I noticed John Owens as the only tight end for a couple snaps from the one-back, three-receiver grouping. Overall, the Seahawks have used no tight end for 9.5 percent of snaps this season.

There were a couple of plays when 49ers linebackers Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson threw aside Carlson in the running game. That will sometimes happen to a receiving-oriented tight end. Carlson can be a very good receiver. I suspect the Seahawks' pass protection isn't reliable enough for the team to find Carlson open on longer pass routes. There are other times when Carlson isn't available because he is helping in protection.

The Seahawks' improved depth at wide receiver also makes him less prominent in the offense relative to last season. I don't think there's anything alarming about Carlson's play to this point. Like his teammates, he would benefit from having an improved offensive line.