Game Overview ::
By MIKE JOHNSON >>
- This is the third meeting between these teams, and the 49ers dominated each of the first two.
- Seattle’s offense has struggled recently after a hot start to the season, averaging only 16 points per game over the last four weeks.
- San Francisco’s offense has been on fire with Brock Purdy under center, scoring 33+ points in five of the six games where he was their primary quarterback.
- The 49ers defense has been terrific but has had a couple of bad outings against teams who were able to exploit them through the air.
How SEATTLE Will Try To Win ::
The Seahawks have had an interesting progression to their season as they started out grinding away some wins, then turned into an explosive offense that won a few shootouts, and now have evolved into a more ground based team that has leaned heavily on rookie running back Kenneth Walker over the last three weeks, as they fought for a playoff spot. This week, the Seahawks get a third opportunity to overcome the league’s top defense, whom their offense managed to score only 13 total points against in the first two matchups. The 49ers beat Seattle 27-7 in Week 2 but the Seahawks touchdown came on special teams, and the Seahawks only touchdown in their Week 15 Thursday night loss came with 3:35 left in the game after they had barely moved the ball for three and a half quarters.
Looking at this week’s playoff game, the Seahawks have a difficult decision to make in their approach. They have found their way into the playoffs by grinding out wins and putting the ball in the belly of Kenneth Walker, but they now face San Francisco’s top-ranked run defense. Do they really want to run into a brick wall repeatedly and leave themselves in long down and distance situations against this unit? My guess would be no. Looking deeper at the last two weeks for the Seahawks, we can see that they were playing at home and faced the Jets and the Rams, who rank 29th and 27th in the league in scoring. This week, on the road against a 49ers offense that has been dominant and nearly unstoppable for the last two months, the Seahawks should feel no such level of comfort that they can play the conservative field position game and rely on their defense to win it for them. This 49ers defense is elite against the run and solid at every level, but if they have a weakness, it has to be in their secondary. In Week 17, Jarrett Stidham lit up the 49ers defense as he relied heavily on two veteran receivers (Davante Adams and Darren Waller) and picked them apart from the pocket. Seattle could stir up the same recipe this week with Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf serving as the focal points of their attack, and occasionally getting Kenneth Walker in space or picking up short yardage as needed. A short to intermediate passing attack that gets the ball out of Smith’s hands quickly before the 49ers pass rush can get there, and sets up short yardage situations on second and third down, is the approach the Raiders showed everyone. This is an approach that the Seahawks are equipped to execute thanks to the accuracy of Geno Smith, the route running of Tyler Lockett, and the big body of DK Metcalf. The Seahawks aren’t necessarily going to be completely airing it out this week, but we should expect more of a “pass to set up the run” approach than their grinding approach of recent weeks.