Sunday may be remembered as the day Chris Carson made the Seahawks’ tailback position his.
The Seahawks once were as stable in the backfield as an NFL team can be these days.
From the minute Seattle traded for Marshawn Lynch in October 2010 to the minute Lynch suffered the first significant injury of his career in November 2015, the Seahawks used just 10 players at tailback, and aside from Lynch almost all in complementary or backup roles. That number includes the barely-remembered Eddie Williams and his two carries in 2011 as well as Leon Washington and Justin Forsett, the main tailbacks when Lynch arrived.
But from the minute in 2015 when Lynch went on injured reserve because of a sports hernia to Sunday, the Seahawks used 14 players at tailback.
That number includes the brief “awakening’’ of Christine Michael’s second stint in Seattle, regulars such as Thomas Rawls — whose chance to make the job his own the past two years has been stunted by injuries — free agent signee Eddie Lacy and a few who, like Williams in 2011, even diehards might not remember, such as DuJuan Harris (2015) and Terrence Magee (2016).
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Given all the starts and stops in the Seattle backfield the past 22 months, caution might still be the order of the day when wondering if the merry-go-round finally has come to a halt.
But in Chris Carson, the Seahawks might have at least slowed that merry-go-round to a crawl.
Rawls and Lacy are still around, and coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the Seahawks can find ways to use all three as well as C.J. Prosise, whose primary role should continue to be a third-down back. Seattle’s depth chart for this week’s game at Tennessee, in fact, still shows Rawls as the starter and Lacy as the backup.
But if Carson has indeed become the truest thing to the Seahawks’ first 20 carries-per-game back since Lynch, his performance Sunday in a win over the 49ers might be remembered as the watershed moment.
After Rawls started and gained four yards on five carries in the first half (similar to the three yards on five carries Lacy had the week before as the starter), Carson took over. He gained 58 yards on seven attempts as Seattle finally scored the touchdown it needed to hold off stubborn San Francisco.
And on Monday, Carroll said there’s no reason to think Carson can’t pick up Sunday at Tennessee where he left off against the 49ers.