Geno Smith’s incredible season came to an end on Saturday in the first round of the NFL playoffs. Smith and the Seattle Seahawks were eliminated in the wild card round by division rival San Francisco, as the former Mountaineer completed 25 of 35 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

The game marked Smith’s playoff debut. The 2013 second-round pick waited 10 seasons to finally get his chance in the National Football League’s postseason. It was the latest in a number of chances, opportunities, and recognitions that finally came Smith’s way as a pro this season.

“What I can take from this game, and really this season, out of all the great things that we did – all the accolades, all the great stats – there’s still so much room for improvement,” Smith said after the 41-23 loss. “So many ways that we can be better, and I believe it starts with me. So, um, the new season for me starts today.”

Another first in his career will begin shortly. Smith will enter free agency as an established starting quarterback coming off a great season. The WVU Sports Hall of Famer has changed teams multiple times before, but now has the opportunity to choose his own destination.

While Smith does have the ability to pick his landing spot for next season, he hinted that a return to Seattle is at the forefront of his mind.

“We’ve got a long ways to go. I’m excited about the future. I know we can be a lot better. It’s just going to take a lot of commitment. So, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m ready to go,” he said.

Asked later about his desires for the offseason, Smith was more direct in how he hopes his offseason pans out.

“I want to finish my career in Seattle. I want to be here,” said Smith. “The town, the city, the team, the organization, coach [Pete] Carroll, they all embraced me. I was a guy who probably could’ve been out of the league. They embraced me. I want to repay them for that.”

The success Smith attained this season does not mean he’s satisfied. He said Saturday that he feels the need to get faster, stronger, and smarter in the offseason. In all, Smith feels there’s plenty of room for him to still grow as a quarterback.

“Everything for me has got to get better. I’m not at all satisfied,” said Smith. “For me, man, I just got to be better. And I’m going to take this one personal.”

Plenty can change over the course of the offseason, from Smith’s physical makeup to the desire on both sides of the negotiating table to come to terms on a contract that satisfies both Smith and the organization.

Smith made it clear, though, that he hopes to return to Seattle and help the organization – and himself – take the next step.