Now that there's football on Sundays, we've got to work double time to get the post out a day earlier. And as such, with prior commitments, Trevor Woods was unable to partake in the mailbag post today. You'll get an extra dose of me. I'll get straight to the Qs and As. I'll answer more questions than my usual share, so I'll try to be more concise than my standard epically long replies.
Green Bay at San Francisco
No, I wouldn't be concerned. Green Bay did everything they could to make sure they wouldn't get beat on the ground. They dared us to pass on them and we did it with great success. The run game opened up a little later on. The Packers schemed well against the run and B.J. Raji and the middle of the Packers defense played extremely well.
There were questions during the offseason about whether Colin Kaepernick could beat teams with his arm. Those questions came from media and opposing teams fans, not the other teams. I'm sure opposing defenses knew that he could do it, but hadn't witnessed it on display. It was sort of like a nuclear weapon. The threat was there, but... BOOM! Now they know. It's now less likely moving forward that teams scheme that hard to stop us from running. And behind that offensive line, Greg Roman could hit the occasional 100-yard game.
Clay Matthews has a pretty clean record in the NFL. He admitted it was a bad play, while also admitting that he's not a dirty player, he's an awesome player. He messed up by saying he was going to hit Kaepernick without the ball earlier in the week. If he'd have kept his mouth shut to begin with, people wouldn't be as up in arms about it. Basically he's a star in the league and doesn't have a history, so the NFL isn't going to throw the book at him. I can't argue with that logic.
Now Boldin's fine, on the other hand....
San Francisco at Seattle
Our offensive line is the best in the league and PFF consistently refers to them as the best position unit in football (though our linebackers would also be in that conversation). We had great success in Week 7 last season running the ball against Seattle. The Seattle secondary is arguably the best in the League. So it would make sense to stay away from their strength and go with our strength. Establishing the run will help open up the passing game. Forcing the Seattle secondary to be ever-attentive on our running backs and the line of scrimmage could open up some deep opportunities for Colin Kaepernick's cannon arm and one of our speedier pass catchers like Vernon Davis and Kyle Williams.
Last week, Green Bay all but dared us to beat them with the pass. So we did. It will be the opposite against the Seahawks. We'll have to fight all night to get passing yards, so the path to least resistance will be on the ground. Check out PFF's review from last year's victory over the Seahawks. Our offensive line's domination over their defensive front was absolute. Some of the stats are mind-altering, man (to be read with a stoned hippy voice). A repeat of that performance will be an essential ingredient to winning one of the toughest games a team can play.
If Seattle is able to limit Boldin, who is the X factor that will have to step up and make plays in the passing game?#Channel49— Andy LoFaro (@CNasty5682) September 13, 2013
Richard Sherman will be on Anquan Boldin all day. He'll be in his face early and often and in man coverage. Boldin was great last week finding spots in the Packers' zone defense, but this week will be different. We know Boldin won't be able to replicate last week's performance and I think we could be looking at a muted performance from Anquan. Who could pick up the slack in the passing game?
Vance McDonald could be a key. I'm expecting the 49ers to work hard establishing the run. I'm expecting plenty of extra tight end personnel. McDonald only played 20 snaps last game and had the one catch for 25 yards. I'd expect him to see more action and have a few more chances. Another option is Kyle Williams. Brandon Browner is now listed as doubtful for Sunday, making things a lot easier for our No. 2 receiver. He played nearly as much as Anquan in Week 1, so he'll get more chances than anyone else not named Anquan or Vernon to make plays.
How do the 49ers attack SEA's secondary, given their size & strength and our WR's lack thereof? (i.e. personnel, formations) #Channel49— Alan Chee (@agchee) September 13, 2013
As mentioned, Browner is likely out. Either way, I'd expect the 49ers to use a lot of movement prior to the snap to avoid our wide receivers having to try to get by the Seattle press coverage. We did not have much success against it last year and there's no reason to think that will change this year. Boldin is stronger than our other receivers, but he'll have Sherman draped on him for 60 minutes.
Alan (the question asker) later noted that bunch formations in the Carolina game forced the defense into off-man coverage. Anything that can help our smaller receivers like Quinton Patton, Kyle Williams and Marlon Moore get some separation will be helpful. Greg Roman will be working on all sorts of ways to make this work. I'm also thinking of Patton's touchdown against San Diego in the preseason. A wide receiver screen with Boldin, Vernon Davis and a lineman out front blocking on the Seahawks defensive backs would be fun.
Our secondary has been most successful when teams are rendered one-dimensional. Marshawn Lynch did not have a great game against Carolina and the result was 13 points for the offense. It was enough to win, but not pretty. Lynch has had plenty of success against the 49ers, going for over 100 yards in each of his last three outings against us. Keeping him pinned down with the front 7 will be critical.
The second key will be preventing Russell Wilson from getting to the outside. He likes to roll out to open up passing lanes. We need to keep him pressured, but in the pocket, which is easier said than done, and often don't go together. We'll have our work cut out for us on both sides of the ball.
I'd expect us to see a very similar snap count to last week's game, Chris. We all want to see some of the youngsters get more chances, especially Patton. There were quite a few questions about him and his playing time this week. It's possible we see a little more from QP than last week's four offensive snaps, but I expect this one to be real close. If there's any game that Harbaugh is dying to win more than others, it's this one. After last year's embarrassment in Seattle on Coach's birthday, he's going to do everything in his power to get the W. And that will most likely mean a very tight rotation.
Bits and Bobs
#channel49 we don't like Clay and SHErman, what player do other teams hate on our team? Jim Harbaugh?— Kyle Ceynar (@dr_kceynar) September 13, 2013
I'm one of those people who loves to read comments. I'm a bit of a misanthrope (one who hates people), and reading the comments on national news articles, whether sports or headline news, is the number one way to stoke that fire. From what I can gather, 31 fanbases absolutely hate Jim Harbaugh. They think he's arrogant, pompous and a bunch of other words like (site decorum times infinity squared). I think we knew that.
The one player who got hated on majorly this summer was Colin Kaepernick. People see him kissing his arm and, without knowing the story behind it, find it conceited. Some people think he's gotten too much attention, too fast...needs to earn it more. That's the sentiment I can agree with. He was plastered all over the media from February to August and people just get tired of that regardless of who the person is. Tom Brady, LeBron, Danica Patrick, Angelina Jolie...doesn't matter, I don't want to see someone's face that much (the misanthrope thing). But Kaepernick should have the last laugh here. Setting records while taking your team to the Super Bowl, while coming out of nowhere, will get you noticed in a big way.
As for our other stars, I've never heard a bad word uttered about Frank Gore, Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and the rest. You have to respect them as they work hard, play fundamental football and just get the job done.
And, finally, the tricky question. It should be included above, but I wanted to save the best for last. BASG said it best on his podcast: If you predict the 49ers to win this one at Seattle, possibly the hardest game a team can play, you're basically predicting them to go 16-0. I know we're not going 16-0. Before I get crucified, I'd like to say, there are plenty of ways we win this game. I just think it's a 60/40 chance the Seahawks win, with the home-field advantage being a key factor in that.
And remember, #Channel49 is interactive. You should feel free to answer any and every question in the comments below. Have a go at one of my answers if you like. Join us every Friday at 2pm PT on Twitter. You simply use the hashtag leading up to the start time and we'll discuss it.
Being a Sheep
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