Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed Monday that strongside linebacker Mychal Kendrick tore his ACL in Sunday’s loss to the 49ers and will miss the playoffs.
Kendricks suffered the knee injury in the third quarter of the game. He came up gimpy after a blown coverage on Niners fullback Kyle Juszczyk down field, which ended in a 49-yard gain and eventually led to a San Francisco touchdown drive.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier Monday that Seattle believed Kendricks had a torn ACL, even before his MRI results came in.
“Mychal looks like he’ll need surgery,” Carroll told reporters. “He’s going to be out for a while.” Losing the eighth-year linebacker is a huge blow for the Seahawks’ defense as it gears up for the postseason.
The team already has little margin for error on that side of the ball — with the blown coverages and breakdowns that seem to happen a handful of times each game for Seattle’s D. Losing Kendricks doesn’t help that cause.
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The former Cal standout played a critical role in the Seahawks’ heavy dependence on 4-3 base defense this campaign.
He was one of the team’s more athletic players, and Carroll was confident in his coverage skills — indicative in the fact that he’s frequently kept on the field for passing downs over nickelback options.
Kendricks finished the regular season fourth on the team with 71 tackles and tied for third with three sacks.
With Kendricks out of the picture for January (and potentially February), rookie third-round pick Cody Barton is the starter at SAM backer moving forward. The Seahawks could also look to employ more sub packages on third down.
Kendricks is the fourth Seahawk in the last four weeks to suffer season-ending injuries. Running backs Chris Carson (hip fracture) and C.J. Prosise (broken arm) were lost for the year in Week 16 versus the Arizona Cardinals, while tailback Rashaad Penny (ACL) got hurt vs. the Rams on Dec. 8.
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