Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

49ers preparing for ‘toughest game of the year’ against Seahawks

Dec 2, 2021 at 5:39 PM--

Things have been uncharacteristically bad for the Seattle Seahawks lately.

After starting the season 2-2, with one of those wins coming on the road against the 49ers in Week 4, the Seahawks have struggled as much as any team in the NFL, losing six of their last seven games. The offense has been problematic while quarterback Russell Wilson hasn't found his top form since returning from finger surgery, and at this point it seems likely they'll miss the postseason for only the second time since 2012.

The 49ers have been moving in the opposite direction, winning their last three games after a 3-5 start while picking up momentum towards a possible playoff run. But despite the way things have been trending, the 49ers aren't getting overconfident at all about their chances of beating the Seahawks when the two teams face off at Lumen Field in Seattle on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT, CBS).

"I think it's going to be our toughest game of the year, and I think they would say the same thing," 49ers tight end George Kittle told reporters after practice on Thursday.

There's little doubt Kittle is sincere about that comment based on how things have gone for the 49ers against the Seahawks over the past decade. The Seahawks have dominated the 49ers since 2013, with a number of those outcomes not being particularly close.

"Something that stood out to me is they've won 16 of the last 19, which is not acceptable," Kittle said. "I know not everybody here's been a part of all those games obviously, but that's still quite the streak. The only way to work your way against that is to win games. This week's an opportunity to make it 16 for 20. So that's what we're going to try to do out there, is win, because they've had our number a lot over my career and years before that. So we just want to go out there and win this game."

The Seahawks have scored just 28 combined points over their last three games, including a 17-0 shutout loss to the Green Bay Packers on November 14. But they've often been competitive, with three of their losses coming by three points or less. And the 49ers will certainly never underestimate any team that has Wilson at the controls.

"I was watching the game the other night and I saw a good team," defensive end Nick Bosa said Thursday. "I not for one second saw a team that was like, 'Oh, we should definitely beat these guys.' We're going to have to go play our best game, especially in Seattle. They protect well, they have a good offensive line, good receivers, and they have Russell Wilson. So I know we're not going to take them lightly."

Adding to the challenge this Sunday will be the road environment that comes with playing in Seattle. The 49ers last won there in 2019 -- an unforgettable 26-21 battle that went down to the last play and won the 49ers the NFC West -- but before that, the Seahawks won eight straight when the 49ers made the trip up north.

"It's one of my favorites," Kittle said of playing at Lumen Field. "For me, when you go to a stadium and it's built up like that and the sounds coming down on you the whole time and you can feel the passionate hatred of their fans We're not supposed to like each other, and you can definitely feel that from their fans, and I love that. That's football."

The Seahawks lead the overall series against the 49ers 29-17, an edge they built up after being tied at 15 with the 49ers during the 2013 season. It seems like this week presents as good of a chance as the 49ers have had in recent memory to narrow the gap on the on the road against the Seahawks, and perhaps it is—but it'll probably take all they have in order to get it done.

"You watch the tape, and the tape doesn't match the record," offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel said Thursday. "I don't think there's a person in our building and there's a player in our locker room that would think of this team as a 3-8 football team at all. They play hard. They've lost games that were close. I think we can relate to that. The Seahawks as a team still have their same mantra—they do not let anything happen to teams easy. There's a lot of people saying the Packers are the best team in the NFL. Well, what was the score with five minutes to go just two weeks ago? This is a team you cannot take lightly, and we sure aren't. It's hard enough to win in this league as it is. But the 3-8, we try to keep our brains to the film and what we see and what we prepare for, and it does not look like that at all. From a defensive perspective they look as tough as ever."

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