Coming off the bye week, the 49ers gear up to play their third straight home game in the week 12 matchup against the hated Divisional Rival Seattle Seahawks. Now, after finally breaking the 0 wins for the season curse with their first victory against Eli Manning and the New York Football Giants, we will break down the key offensive and defensive matchups.
With the 49ers coming off a bye week and the Seattle Seahawks coming off a hard-fought Monday Night home loss against the Atlanta Falcons, the 49ers will be looking to even the season series and build on their first win under the new regime. While the Seahawks need to rebound and stay afloat in the heated playoff race in the NFC with a must-win contest in Santa Clara this coming Sunday. Let’s turn our attention to several pivotal matchups to watch in this week s contest.
49ers RB’s and Offensive Line vs. Seahawks Front Seven
During week 10, the 49ers patchwork offensive began to gel and build some continuity opening holes for running back Carlos Hyde who amassed 98 yards on 17 carries while giving Quarterback C.J. Beathard time in the pocket surrendering no sacks and only two QB hits. The unit saw a lift by the healthy return of Joe Staley who was coming back from an eye injury which sidelined him the pervious week. Trent Brown, will be counted on heavily to protect and serve as he has done, for the most part, this season.
Center Daniel Kilgore and left guard Brandon Fusco will also be pivotal if the 49ers are looking to have a repeat performance of week ten against the Giants. However, that will be easier said than done playing against a Seahawks Front Seven led by Michael Bennett, rookie Nazair Jones and veteran Sheldon Richardson who had a sack and two tackles for a loss against Atlanta. The Seahawks will be without defensive end Cliff Avril who’s now on injured reserve. The linebackers are led by the always Dangerous Duo of K.J. Wright and All-Pro Bobby Wagner, while the left side is guarded by the up and coming Terence Gavin.
C. J. Beathard and the 49ers WRs & TEs vs. Seattle Secondary
The 49ers haven’t officially decided on a Starting Quarterback for Sunday, but general manager John Lynch seemingly vouched for Beathard on Tuesday. Per Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News reports,. “You watch the way C.J. Beathard played the other day, he looked like he could be the guy. That’s a good issue,” Lynch added. For the record Beathard is starting against the Seahawks we can confirm. Marquise Goodwin will be counted heavily after having his best game in a 49ers uniform with his lone catch on two targets resulting in this 83-yard touchdown reception. Goodwin, who now leads the NFL with 21.7 yards per catch along with Rookies Trent Taylor and George Kittle who most likely will be back in action after a chance to get healthy during the bye week should look to take full advantage of opportunities against a banged up Seattle secondary. Safety Kam Chancellor is now likely out for the season with a neck injury while rookie Shaquil Griffin suffered a concussion in Monday’s Contest and did not return.The Seahawks will have to rely on Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxell as well as safety Bradley McDougal for reinforcements with Richard Sherman out for the year.
49ers Front Seven vs. Seattle’s Offensive Line
Fortunately for the 49ers Front Seven, the Seahawks offensive line is just as bad if not worse than the line-up they faced in their last contest against the Giants. On Monday night against the Falcons, the unit gave up three sacks and eight quarterback hits and seemingly had QB Russell Wilson on the run all night. Left tackle Duane Brown will try and right the ship to protect Wilson’s blind side and open holes for RB Thomas Rawls and company.
It should be noted that Aaron Lynch could be back in action this week as well as new additions; DE/Leo Cassius Marsh and DT Sheldon Day. The 49ers waived veteran DL Datone Jones to make room for DE Tank Carradine to return from IR this week if healthy. DeForest Buckner and company will need to bring the same intensity they brought in week two when they virtually stymied the Seahawks offense holding them to 12 points. Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll said that he’s hopeful Guard Luke Joeckel will play (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). Rookie Ethan Pocic will fill in for the injured Oday Aboushi who won’t play due to a shoulder injury.
Russell Wilson vs. Reuben Foster
This will be an intriguing chess match between one of the best improvisers in the game in Russell Wilson and one of the best young and up and coming talents at Middle linebacker Reuben “Ferrari Foster. Foster will be looking to fill up the stat sheets again with his third straight game with ten or more tackles while mirroring every move of the elusive signal caller. Wilson, who continues to work his 4th quarter magic, almost led his team to another comeback victory on Monday night after being down by two scores late in the game.
Eric Reid and 49ers’ Secondary vs. Jimmy Graham and Seattle Wr’s
Eric Reid, by default, is back where he started at the box safety position after playing a few games as a weakside linebacker in the team’s Dime Defense. He will primarily be responsible for slowing down TE Jimmy Graham who has become a big target over the middle for quarterback Russell Wilson accounting for seven touchdowns already on the season. The 49ers’ secondary will need a repeat performance of the week two matchup where they held Graham and the Seattle receiving core in check en route to nearly pulling off the upset. We may also see Leo Hall get the nod at free safety and have K’Waun Williams play his normal slot position with the injury to Adrian Colbert who had surgery on his thumb and is questionable for this week’s matchup. Curveball alert: Dexter McCoil and Antone Exum are also competing for who starts at free safety with Adrian Colbert likely out. “It’s good competition and we’ll have it sorted out by Sunday.” Per defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and courtesy of Matt Maiocco of NBCS.
Storylines: The ties that connect the 49ers and Seahawks
This is the first official divisional coaching matchup between Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll and San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan. Carroll coached with Kyle’s father Mike on the 49ers as the defensive coordinator during the 1995 and ‘96 seasons. Current Seattle Assistant Defensive Line Coach Dwaine Board earned three Super Bowl rings as a player (1979-1998), and one as a defensive line coach(1990-2002) with the San Francisco 49ers. Current Seattle Defensive Coordinator Kris Richards played with the 49ers in 2005 as a defensive back. Current 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh was Seattle’s defensive quality control Coach from 2011-2013 and helped guide them to their only Super Bowl victory. Current 49er linebacker Brock Coyle is a former Seahawk, and former 49er Michael Wilhoite joined the Seahawks this offseason.
One Last Thing
Kyle Shanahan finally showed two weeks ago what his offense can do when it’s clicking on all cylinders and both facets (run and pass) are working together harmoniously. A lot of that success can be attributed to a Giants defense that is missing key pieces and suffering from a lack of confidence in the coaching staff. This week against a tough-minded Pete Carroll Coached Seattle defense we will get a better sense of what this offense can bring to the table and how effective it will be to compete at a high level in the NFL. Can the 49ers prove themselves worthy and play spoiler or will the Seahawks enforce their will?
Please join us again soon on Niners Live, the home of the faithful fan and analyst from an objective/analytical lens, of course.
All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Irvin Johnson Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Content Creator, Editor Sequoia Sims.