Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

How are the 49ers going to defend DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett?

Rohan Chakravarthi
Dec 1, 2021 at 7:30 PM--

The San Francisco 49ers face off against a division rival in the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday, riding off a three-game win streak after an impressive, hard-fought 34-26 victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Levi's Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have heavily disappointed this season with a 3-8 record, much due to Russell Wilson's broken finger that he sustained during Seattle's Week 5 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Still, despite their recent slide, they possess two major receiving weapons in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who can be problematic for opposing defenses at any point in the game.

The 49ers certainly remember Metcalf's abilities, as the third-year pro went off for 12 catches and 161 yards during Seattle's 37-27 defeat of the 49ers last season.

While Wilson seems to be ailing from his finger injury still, the additional rest period leading up to Sunday's game may render him healthy enough to return back to his former self, which would do wonders for Seattle's passing game.

With Metcalf and Lockett possessing such expansive abilities at the receiver position, how are the 49ers going to defend Seattle's receiving duo?

Before Wednesday's practice, head coach Kyle Shanahan addressed the topic, acknowledging that coverage would be a huge challenge that both Metcalf and Lockett present on a weekly basis.

"I know it's a huge challenge," Shanahan said to reporters. "Those are two really good receivers, and you've just got to make sure it's not just those two versus each other."

To outduel Seattle's offense, Shanahan plans to rely on the pass rush and a variety of different defensive coverages to create both physical and mental pressure on Russell Wilson.

"I mean, most corners, if you just go out and it's one-on-one all day, I don't care what the receiver is, they should eventually get you," Shanahan continued. "So he's got to make sure that they compete, go hard against them. We have a good pass rush. We mix it up in coverage and try to confuse the quarterback a little bit, not give him the time when he has the good looks. And when he does have the good look, you have to make sure you come down with a few."

Regardless of who plays at the cornerback position, both of Seattle's top receivers have proven to be a difficult challenge for defenses. With a 49ers secondary that has struggled with penalties and big-time plays, San Francisco will have to rely on an aggressive pass rush, as well as 3rd & long's to make it hard on Seattle to move the football.

After last week's win, San Francisco earned sole possession of the NFC's 6th seed, as the Vikings slid to 7th with a 5-6 record. Currently, the 49ers are one game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the wildcard standings, meaning that a win on Sunday would at least keep them within striking distance of moving up in the playoff seeding.

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