San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Remember when this was the biggest game of the year? Seems like so long ago the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco were perhaps the best rivalry in all of sports. Sadly(ish) San Francisco has fallen on hard times, and travel up the west coast to face the slow starting Seattle Seahawks. Here’s what to watch for.
Offensively, it’s all about the line again for Seattle. The past two games against the LA Rams and Miami Dolphins have exposed this offensive line to a pair of fierce defensive fronts. That will not be the case against the 49ers. While there are a few defensive standouts, Novarro Bowman in particular, there is no Ndamukong Suh or Aaron Donald this week to wreak havoc. Seattle should have an easier time making holes in the running game, and protecting Russell Wilson in the passing game.
Guard Germain Ifedi and tight end Nick Vannett of the Seahawks could return this week from injury. Ifedi in particular played terrific in the preseason. Him missing the last two games has really diminished the talent and continuity of this offensive line. Nick Vannett is the only tight end on the roster that really specializes in blocking, and can function as both a pass catcher and extra offensive lineman as needed. That’s huge for this team.
With better blocking quarterback Russell Wilson and the slightly banged up wide receivers should be able to exploit a mediocre San Francisco secondary. Star tight end Jimmy Graham has been eased back into the lineup after a devastating knee injury last year, and is expected to finally be fully unleashed this week. Starting running back Thomas Rawls has a leg injury which could either limit his carries, or keep him out of the game entirely. Talented backup Christine Michael, who should be able to exploit the weak defensive line. This should be a productive day for the offense overall.
The Seahawks defense has been the best in the league through 2 weeks, and there is little evidence that fact will change this week. Quarterback Blaine Gabbart has been serviceable these last few weeks, but no team he faced thus far have a secondary as complete, or playing as well, as Seattle. The ferocious Seahawks defensive line plays particularly well at home. They should shut down the 49ers running game, and harass the quarterback on passing downs.
These teams have completely diverged since the heyday of their rivalry. Seattle has been to two superbowls, while San Francisco has been through two difference head coaches. Those differences will be evident this Sunday, as the Seahawks get back on track with their first double digit victory of the year.