RENTON, Wash. – The Seahawks had the 49ers right where they wanted them: facing third-and-10 backed up against their goal line.
Shaun Hill threw a safe pass, a short dump-off to Moran Norris, and Aaron Curry, 254 pounds of speed and power, closed fast on the San Francisco fullback. But Morris made one cut, and Curry became 254 pounds of speed and power that had just whiffed on a tackle and allowed San Francisco to pick up a first down.
And on the first of Frank Gore’s two long touchdown runs, Curry was guilty of over-pursuing the play, which helped Gore get loose in the secondary.
Call it growing pains for the rookie from Wake Forest, whom the Seahawks took with the No. 4 overall pick.
“That’s a fair assessment, it is,” Curry said a day later when asked if he has been guilty of over-pursuing while trying to make big plays. “There are some small things within the scheme that I’ve got to fix.”
Curry is a rich man because he can play fast and make big plays on defense. His next step, he said, is learning when to control his desire to go full speed. Curry showed a tantalizing glimpse of what he can do in Seattle’s final exhibition game, and he has made plays in the first two regular-season games. He has also learned, however, that his physical talents can some times go against him.
“It’s hard, because my natural instinct is to go fast and go now, and I’ve just got to realize when I can and cannot,” he said.
Of course, Curry is in the infancy of his NFL career, and mistakes are bound to happen. But when you’re making tens of millions of dollars and starting from Day 1, the mistakes tend to stick out. It also hasn’t helped Curry that he has been playing without starting linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill for much of the last two games.
“He wants to make an impact play on every play,” Seahawks coach Jim Mora said. “He’s young, he’s learning, and he’s maturing. He will – and we’ll force the issue – but he’s got to learn the game and how to play at the right tempo. We always say, ‘Go full speed,’ but there’s a tempo involved in going full speed.”
On that third-down pass to Norris, Curry said he needs to be more aware of the situation and make sure to make the tackle rather than go for a big play.
“Just what we call third-down awareness,” he said. “Being mentally aware of what I need to do and not just try to do everything through my physical athleticism. … The important thing is to not let it happen again.”
Curry’s coach is confident the rookie will learn quickly from his mistakes, and, as the linebacker said, not let it happen again.
“Plays like that, you got to show them to him,” Mora said of Norris’ catch and run. “You got to put him in that position again so he can practice it. A guy like Aaron, when you do that, he’s going to learn from it and he’s going to be better next time, absolutely.”
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