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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports


Previewing 49ers’ Matchups: Seattle Seahawks

Oct 2, 2021 at 4:00 PM


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After a difficult loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, the San Francisco 49ers are back for their second straight home game at Levi's Stadium versus another potential NFC contender in the Seattle Seahawks.

The Niners lost the bout with the Packers in a heartbreaking fashion in a game that was decided in the final minute of play. The beginning of the game seemed like it was going to be a dominant, statement victory for Green Bay as they got off to a 17-0 lead by the time one minute was remaining in the first half. However, from there, the 49ers' offense led a comeback all the way to the end of the game when quarterback Jimmy Garapolo threw a touchdown pass to fullback Kyle Juscyk to make the score 28-27 with 37 seconds left. Unfortunately for San Fransisco, this proved to be far too much time for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to lead his team's dynamic offense down the field to set up a game-winning field goal.

This Sunday, the 49ers will get a chance to redeem themselves and improve to three wins and one loss on the season versus a prominent divisional rival. As expected the NFC West has been largely the best division in football with two undefeated teams and a combined record of 9-3. The Seahawks have been the most underwhelming team out of the quartet, losing two high-scoring affairs with the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings in back-to-back weeks.

Let's preview this matchup piece by piece and determine whether the Seahawks can recover their season or the Niners can continue their push their playoffs.

But first, let's take a look at the new notable injuries both teams are facing this weekend.

San Fransisco 49ers
  • CB K'Waun Williams, Out
  • CB Josh Norman, Doubtful
  • DL Javon Kinlaw, Questionable
  • RB Elijah Mitchell, Questionable
  • TE George Kittle, Questionable

Seattle Seahawks
  • WR Dee Eskridge, Out
  • RB Rashaad Penny, Out
  • OT Brandon Shell, Out
  • LB Benson Mayowa, Questionable

Now, let's jump into the Seahawks' strengths and weaknesses. This week's analysis, you'll find, boils down incredibly simply.

Strength:


Offense

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports


Just like the Packers last week, the 49ers will have to go up against a set of the most talented offensive players in the league. Led by dynamic "dual-threat" superstar quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks are sure to set up a multilevel offense that displays versatility. Wilson has had a stellar start to the season production-wise, completing 73 percent of his passes while throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He's been about as good as he can be, and is likely the single biggest reason the Seahawks play somewhat close games.

On the other end of Wilson's passes is a duo of elite receivers in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Either receiver can explode for a 200-yard outing in any game depending on the hot hand on any given day. This season specifically, it's been Lockett leading the receiver room with a career year, averaging 103 yards a game and recording three touchdowns on the young season. In addition to being one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL, he also possesses the quality of being very boom or bust. His production tends to heavily vary situationally based on matchups, game conditions, and more.

The more consistent and generally higher regarded wide receiver on the team, D.K. Metcalf, has had a mellower but solid start to the season. Metcalf has lofty expectations this season after putting up over 1,300 receiving yards in 2020 combined with the fact that he is a high potential young receiver only in his third year in the league. Just last week against the Vikings, Metcalf had his first breakout game of the season as he topped 100 receiving yards for the first time all season and added a touchdown.

The final reliable part of the Seahawks' offensive set is running back Chris Carson. Seattle has always prioritized a strong, effective, and heavy run game over handing the ball straight to Russell Wilson. Carson is just the latest gem at the position that Seattle has found in the late rounds of the draft. However, last year the team pivoted away from an aspect that made them successful over the last decade, and the slogan "Let Russ Cook" seemed to take over the team. After a 6-0 start to the 2020 season, the offense dramatically cooled off and the coaching staff learned that a heavily quarterback-reliant offense isn't sustainable, especially for a team like the Seahawks that has a potent rushing attack that can complement the passing game.

Carson has been the best version of himself to start the season, rushing for 202 yards behind a slightly improved offensive line while also averaging 4.9 yards per carry, the highest mark of his career. It remains to be seen if he can continue this very impressive production for the rest of the season. The only cause for concern in this aspect of the game for the Seahawks is if Carson can stay healthy against a very physical 49ers defensive line, something that is definitely up for question considering the running back's extensive injury history.

The 49ers' Perspective

The 49ers are incredibly unequipped to deal with Seattle's potent offense on multiple fronts.

San Fransisco should be able to generate some kind of pressure on Russell Wilson with their edge rusher and interior D-line presence against a relatively weak Seahawks offensive line, even with the addition of guard Gabe Jackson.

The Niner run defense should also be able to adequately keep pace with Seattle's running backs with backup Rashaad Penny out, as long as Javon Kinlaw is able to stay healthy on Sunday. Kinlaw has been a staple of the rushing defense over his first two years and his big-body presence should be enough to somewhat contain Carson.

However, the real problem for the 49ers is containing the dynamic passing game that the Seahawks are sure to rely on in this matchup. The 49ers cornerback room is currently decimated. With Josh Norman and Jason Verrett out, and Emmanuel Moseley severely compromised, as we observed against the Packers, the Niners are sure to struggle against the simply outstanding duo of Metcalf and Lockett. Deommodore Lenoir, a severely undersized rookie cornerback will be forced into the starting lineup and will have to cover one of the two receivers — a huge, almost impossible ask.

San Francisco gave up 237 receiving yards to the Packers' wide receivers in Week 3, specifically allowing 132 yards and a touchdown to star wide receiver Davante Adams. On top of this, multiple pass interference calls also hurt the Niners even more than the receiver production. The porous 49ers pass defense has to improve to guarantee a win here.

Weakness:


Defense

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I warned you that this matchup would break down very cleanly. Seattle's strength is their offense and their downfall is on the other side of the football. To put it simply, through the first three weeks of the season, the Seahawks have played atrocious defense. That isn't an opinion, it's what the stats clearly outline.

At the cornerback position, the Seahawks are arguably worse than the Niners. Seattle let Shaquill Griffin, their only solid corner, join the Jaguars in free agency, definitely an offseason move that should have been avoided.

In Week 2, the 'Hawks gave up over 170 yards to the half-healthy Titans receiving duo of A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. The very next week, both of the Vikings' elite receivers, decimated the starting Seattle cornerback duo. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Tre Flowers was the nearest defender on eight Kirk Cousins completions for 95 yards, D.J. Reed on three for 29 yards and two touchdowns.

What might be even worse news for the Seahawks is the run defense. It's at least somewhat plausible to give up 182 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns to All-Pro running back Derrick Henry. But what's puzzling is giving up 112 rushing yards to backup Vikings back Alexander Mattison.

The Seahawks defense has always been the shortcoming of the NFC contender, but this year its problems seem to finally be insurmountable, no matter how good the offense performs.

The 49ers' Perspective

The 49ers must capitalize on Seattle's defensive deficiencies in order to keep pace with Seattle's robust offense. It's definitely within the range of possibilities for the Niners to get their offense back to full capabilities, but we simply haven't seen it so far. In both Week 2 and Week 3, against less than perfect defensive teams, the 49ers struggled to boot up offensive explosiveness in the first half. This caused the Philadelphia Eagles and Packers to take advantage and jump out ahead. Especially in Week 3, the deficit San Fransico faced right before halftime seemed like it would be too much to overcome, down by 17 points to a great team.

What's inviting for the 49ers in this matchup, though, is facing a defense similar to the Detroit Lions in terms of ability. If they can get off the ground similar to Week 1, this game has a completely different projection.

Brandon Aiyuk has slowly been ramping up his involvement over the last two games, and Deebo Samuel and George Kittle (if healthy) will likely continue being productive in the passing game. Elijah Mitchell (if healthy) and Trey Sermon should also both be able to generate confidence and production against a lackluster run defense, which all culminate in a strong overall offensive attack. At least strong enough to beat the 1-2 Seahawks.

Prediction:


Prior to the season, I had the 49ers taking their first loss to the Seahawks in Week 4, but after reviewing Seattle's slow start to the season and the potential the Niners have, I believe San Fransisco can steal a win at home and elevate to a 3-1 record on the season.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.
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2 Comments

  • Anthony Pastal
    I agree AD. we will need Lance to win. we have to win. Lance will help ....
    Oct 3, 2021 at 12:07 PM
    0
  • Donald
    You layed out a pretty compelling argument for a Seattle victory but pick SF.. I just don't see how the defense will hold Wilson and his weapons at bey. And if that's the case how will Jimmy lead a scoring attack with no running game? With their backs to the wall I see Seattle winning in a blowout. Pulling for the Niners but this one looks like a mismatch personnel wise..
    Oct 2, 2021 at 5:32 PM
    0

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