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Carroll: Seahawks 'better at utilizing' Graham this year

It took a minute, but the Seattle Seahawks have finally solved the puzzle on how to turn Jimmy Graham into a weekly target-eating, red-zone monster.

He's not chewing up real estate between the 20s the way he used to, but the 6-foot-7 tight end has finally been unleashed at the goal line the way fans expected when Seattle shipped center Max Unger and a first-round pick to the Saints for Graham in 2015.

The veteran pass-catcher hauled in three more grabs for 34 yards with a 1-yard touchdown in Sunday's 24-13 win over the reeling Niners.

"We're so much better at utilizing him as part of the offense," coach Pete Carroll said after the game, per Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. "You know, take what they are giving us and he's doing a great job. ... but again the chemistry between him and [quarterback Russell Wilson] has reached a level that makes them really on top of their game."

With at least one score in six of his past seven outings, Graham's eight touchdowns on the year already match what he posted in his first 27 games with the 'Hawks, while snapping a franchise season record set by tight end John Carlson in 2009.

Almost all of this has come down the stretch, with Graham going scoreless over his first four tilts of the year before surging in November with a pair of touchdowns against Arizona, another against the Falcons and Sunday's tack-on versus San Francisco.

"We're giving a guy who can really shoot a chance to shoot and he's making those shots," Wilson said of Graham, who has become a much-needed asset for an offense that, occasionally, can't get out of its own way.

The Seahawks were a mess in the first half against the Niners before breaking out down the stretch. No team leans more forcibly on their quarterback, but Wilson, with a little help from his friends -- especially the 6-foot-7 ones -- has made the most of it.

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