Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said QB Geno Smith is not dealing with an elbow injury but got hit on the tricep and should be fine for Thursday. He was not as optimistic for RB Kenneth Walker (oblique), saying “oblique strains usually take time to figure out” and that they “don’t think he’s an IR candidate.”
- 49ers LG Aaron Banks (toe) was listed as a ‘DNP’ on Monday’s estimated practice report.
- The Seahawks’ offensive line has allowed the third-highest pressure rate this season – not a good sign on paper against the revamped San Francisco defensive line.
- Seattle pass catchers have a grand total of one game of more than 100 yards receiving. That said, DK Metcalf holds an absurd 37.8 percent red-zone target share and has scored only three touchdowns. Variance could work in his favor at some point (although Smith’s regression to the mean plays a role in that as well after his ninth-year breakout season in 2022).
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How san francisco Will Try To Win ::
The 49ers are averaging 27.9 points per game (27+ points scored in every game with a healthy Deebo Samuel) while running the sixth-fewest offensive plays from scrimmage this season (60.1), highlighting the extreme efficiency of their offense. They rank first in pass DVOA and first in yards per pass attempt while ranking third in run DVOA and 10th in yards per rush attempt. Elite, friends. We can expect this team to score points, we can expect them to efficiently move the football, and we can expect them to give their opponents fits with one of the better defensive lines I can remember in recent history. We’ve talked about the forward-leaning nature of Kyle Shanahan’s offense on multiple occasions this season, and about how much Samuel means to the offense as the primary motion man, with Shanahan’s offensive scheme capable of stressing the opposition’s defenses on multiple levels of the field through Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. It is highly likely that this offense finds success against the Seahawks, and it remains highly likely that one of the four primary contributors to the offense ends the day on the optimal roster when the final whistle sounds.
The offense continues to utilize elevated rates of 21-personnel through fullback Kyle Juszczyk, with Elijah Mitchell and Jordan Mason both playing sparingly all season. Those two change-of-pace options have a combined two games of double-digit snaps over the previous five weeks, highlighting the robust role of All-World running back McCaffrey. McCaffrey has the most rushing and receiving yards amongst backs this season on the second-highest snap share (81.8 percent), also leading the league in red-zone opportunities (48 with eight goal-line carries) and ranking second in total targets (47, or 5.2 per game). Elite talent plus an elite role on an elite offense is always a good combination. The Seahawks present a middling matchup on the ground, having allowed 4.1 yards per carry behind 1.25 yards per carry allowed before contact; yet, they have ceded the fifth-most DK points per game to opposing backs while allowing 52 receptions and 12 total touchdowns to the position (tied for fourth-most touchdowns allowed to backs this year). The Seahawks have also broken a recent trend and allowed a robust 72.7 percent red-zone touchdown rate at home this season against the Commanders, Browns, Cardinals, Panthers and Rams – not exactly a who’s who of offensive prowess. All of that to say, it is highly likely that McCaffrey finds the end zone in this spot, with the biggest concern on this slate being whether or not he returns a separator score you had to have at his elevated salary. That said, raw points become more important as the teams in play on a given slate decreases, making it highly likely McCaffrey finishes the day on the optimal roster. “Highly likely” does not mean “guaranteed,” which leaves the door open for some interesting leverage potential to harness the beauty of variance. More on that below.
Samuel has a low route-participation rate (77.1 percent) and low aDOT (6.8) but sees rushing usage to boost his weekly touch rates, while volume is always going to matter less for the skill-position players of this offense than efficiency and touchdown variance. Any one of Aiyuk, Kittle, Deebo and McCaffrey can become a player you need with their respective roles in this offense and, as we saw last week, the per-touch upside of all players involved can lead to some 300+/3+ games from quarterback Brock Purdy, who has averaged 314.5 yards and three touchdowns in the two games after Deebo returned to the lineup (against Tampa Bay and Jacksonville). He did so on 26 and 25 pass attempts (lolz). Kittle has surged of late, scoring a touchdown and/or going over 100 yards receiving in his previous three games, all of which were played with a healthy Trent Williams (which allows Kittle to be in a route at a higher rate and also motion out of an in-line position). Interestingly enough, his one game during that span with both 100 yards and a touchdown came on just four targets against the Jaguars, highlighting his insane per-touch upside in this offense.
Aiyuk has also gone over 100 yards and/or scored a touchdown in each of his previous three games played, doing so on just 18 total targets in that span. You have to go all the way back to Week 3 to find a game where Deebo saw more than four targets. Even so, Deebo sees a steady rushing role (2.75 carries per game) and carries the same per-touch upside as the other players in this offense. With increased rates of 21-personnel and emphasis on the primary four skill-position players, all of Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Ronnie Bell and Willie Snead have seen their roles decreased of late, with the four combining for just 27 offensive snaps with a fully healthy Deebo in Week 11 (Snead was inactive). Charlie Woerner has supplanted Ross Dwelley as the preferred tight end option in heavy sets for an offense that has utilized 12-personnel around 40 percent of the time over the previous two weeks since the team’s Week 9 bye.