Seahawks encouraged by Drew Lock as Geno Smith's status unclear

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Drew Lock's takeaway after throwing two touchdown passes and two interceptions in his first start since 2021?

"That I can still play football," the quarterback said after the Seattle Seahawks' 28-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Whether Lock will need to play again next week remains to be seen. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll lauded Lock's performance and said starter Geno Smith is day-to-day because of the rib injury that kept him out against San Francisco. The Seahawks won't know about Smith's availability for their Monday night matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles until game time.

The same is true, according to Carroll, for Devon Witherspoon after the rookie cornerback left in the first quarter Sunday with bruised ribs.

Carroll said the extra day "certainly helps us" while making it clear that Smith -- who injured his groin in practice on Thursday -- couldn't play Sunday despite a strong will to do so. That became clear when Smith worked out pregame.

"He ran around a little bit and threw the ball but he couldn't go," Carroll said. "He couldn't go in one direction with any confidence. If he could have, he would have played for sure. He was absolutely of the mindset to go, and he came out early today and went through an extensive workout. He got a lot of stuff done under control, but ... he didn't have the ability to push in one direction. That's classic for a groin injury. So it just wasn't the right thing to do to just throw him out there under those circumstances.

"He didn't call it off. He made me call him off. He wanted to go."

Carroll said the Seahawks were "jolted" when Smith went down Thursday, though he described the injury as innocuous-looking in real time, with the quarterback taking an awkward step after stumbling over a defender.

"You would never have thought a guy would get hurt there, but he hit it wrong," Carroll said. "The good part of it, it wasn't a violent ... incident, so he'll come back. He can throw and he can move around. He just can't move around the way he needs to [in order] to play this game."

Making his first start since the Seahawks acquired him from the Denver Broncos in the Russell Wilson trade in March of 2022, Lock completed 22 of 31 passes for 269 yards. After the 49ers scored a quick touchdown to begin the game, Lock and the Seahawks answered with one of their own. He went 4-of-5 for 68 yards on their opening drive, capping it with a 31-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf on a back-shoulder throw in the end zone.

Lock's second touchdown throw came late in the third quarter to tight end Colby Parkinson, one of eight different receivers to whom he completed a pass.

"I thought he did a great job, right from the beginning," Carroll said. "The opening drive was beautiful. That's a really good sign for Drew that it wasn't too big for him in any way. He wasn't too nervous. He wasn't jittery at all. He came right down the field and threw a great ball to DK to get us in the end zone. And throughout, his calm on the sidelines, his ability to communicate about what was going on and how to adjust and the things that were coming up in the next sequence and the next series, he was on it. He was a real pro about it. So he did a really good job."

Lock, 27, didn't play a single regular-season snap last year after Smith beat him out for the starting job. He made two brief appearances this season because of injuries to Smith, going 4-of-12 for 66 yards and an interception. His last start before Sunday was in Week 18 of the 2021 season.

At the podium postgame, Lock said he was trying to balance his satisfaction in getting back on the field with his disappointment in not winning. He lamented his ball placement on his first interception, which came on a deep throw to Metcalf in the fourth quarter. Lock was hit as he threw his second interception, causing the ball to flutter.

"But I thought I used my legs well," he said. "I thought I got the ball to a lot of different guys today, spread it around, made the big plays when they were there, stayed confident, stayed calm. Nothing threw me off the rocker today, and man, it was a blast being out there."

The Seahawks' loss was their fifth straight to the 49ers dating back to the start of last season, including the wild-card round. They've now lost four straight games for the first time since Carroll took over in 2010, and they'll need to beat an Eagles team that entered Week 14 with the NFC's best record in order to avoid a five-game skid.

Lock was asked what he can take away from his performance Sunday if he has to start again vs. Philadelphia.

"I can still go out there and do it," he said. "It had been a long time since I've started a game. I'm confident in my legs. Confident in the deep ball. Confident in just dropping back and living in the pocket. Just confident that I'm an NFL quarterback, I guess. I can take that away and take that into the next week if I do get the chance."