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With the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks ready to face off on Thursday Night Football, we breakdown the mismatch of the week.
I know. At first glance, it doesn't seem like a total mismatch. Well, let me tell you, there aren't many mismatches for either side in this game. This is a pretty evenly matched game, but if we're going to pick mismatches, I still like Frank Gore and the 49ers rushing attack against anyone.
When they are rolling on all cylinders, they are awfully hard to stop.
"But Dylan, Seattle has the No. 2 run defense in the NFL"
I understand, and they're playing very well. But San Francisco has the No. 2 pass defense, yet it's the Seahawks' secondary everyone is talking about. So stats don't always tell the whole story.
And I'm not discrediting Seattle here, because it's hard to argue how efficient they've been defensively - especially up front.
The linebackers are playing downhill on the ball carrier. The talent in their front seven is very complementary, and they've recently had a couple of rookies step up in big ways. Rookie inside linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive end Bruce Irvin have had fast starts to their NFL careers.
So I like what Seattle brings defensively, but to me, it's a defensive front that's more built to stop the pass. And even though NFL.com stats don't agree with me, I like San Francisco's chances to run the ball, rather than pass it. The Seahawks have speed up front, and they like to get in the opponent's backfield in a hurry.
It's less about power and brute force, and more about quickness and finesse.
The 49ers have taken advantage of this type of fast, aggressive approach. The similar schemed 4-3 fronts of the Eagles and Lions have been bested by the creative yet fundamental approach by the 49ers. San Francisco was letting their guys over-pursue, while methodically incorporating the wham block to free up lanes for the runners.
Because like the Eagles and Lions, the Seahawks are more built to rush the passer.
And they are a defensive front that will be tested. Led by Frank Gore, this very enraged 49ers team still maintains the leagues best rushing attack - and they will be coming at Seattle hard. It's a ball club that can win games on the ground, and even has a higher winning percentage when they decide to go that route. A successful day on the ground typically leads to a 'W' for San Francisco.
In 2011, Gore finished with 142 yards and a touchdown in two outings against them. The Niners beat the ‘Hawks in both meetings, and will look to make it a third straight on Thursday Night Football. His familiarity with the team will be an asset when these two teams meet again.
If the 49ers stick to this power running game, they should be able to find success on the offensive side of the ball.