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Can 49ers DL over Seahawks OL edge make the difference?

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The 49ers defensive line has the edge of the Seahawks offensive line. Now it’s a matter of executing.

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The San Francisco 49ers head into their Week 3 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks with both teams dealing with offensive questions. Blaine Gabbert’s inconsistency and the offensive line’s run blocking have been problematic. For the Seahawks, Russell Wilson is playing with an ankle sprain, and the offensive line is a train wreck.

The Seahawks invested a first round pick in guard Germain Ifedi, hoping to begin shoring up their offensive line. He suffered a high ankle sprain and is not expected to return for at least a couple more weeks. Head coach Pete Carroll chatted with the 49ers media on Wednesday, and he pointed to that as a reason for the team’s offensive line issues:

Yea, I think, we’re missing Germain Ifedi, who made a great impact in the short time, in preseason and all of that. He’ll be back in a week, if not this week. So that’s a pretty big deal. We haven’t seen anybody to the likes of him, big, strong, fast, tough, smart. He was really on it, and we were really excited about him. Unfortunately, on Wednesday, the first week, he got banged up in practice, turned an ankle, so we’re just waiting for him to come back. But until then, J’Marcus Webb jumped in there and he’s played quite a bit of guard in the last couple years. He’s adapted to it a bit, and is going to get better the next couple weeks, too, while we’re waiting for Germain.

It’s safe to say the Seahawks OL issues are more than just missing Ifedi. Pro Football Focus took a dive into it and they found a handful of reasons for Seahawks failures:

1. Failure to work as a unit
2. Simple miscommunication
3. Just bad players
4. Tight ends can’t secure the backside
5. It’s breaking Russell Wilson

The article is worth a read to get a better idea of what to watch this weekend. And for the 49ers, it could bode well. The 49ers defense is improving, and the defensive line is one of the strengths of the unit. It is a developing group with DeForest Buckner learning about the NFL, and Glenn Dorsey returning from injury. But as they come together, it is the group that can make things happen on defense.

And it just so happens they face the Seahawks offensive line with a hobbled Russell Wilson. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman and safety Eric Reid both pointed to Wilson as the big concern about the group, even with his injury.

Bowman: “Well, No. 3 is still their quarterback. Whenever he’s behind the helm, they’re always gonna be a good team. A guy as dangerous as him, I don’t care if he’s wobbly or gimpy at all, I’m still gonna play him like he’s healthy, because he’s that good with his feet and things like that. So, just really understanding who their guys are as we watch film, and understand what they like to do on certain downs. And if we stay in front of the ball and stop 3, we have a good chance.”

Reid: “Obviously, you don’t like to see guys get hurt, but it helps us that [Russell Wilson] is a little bit slower. He’s probably the most phenomenal player to ever keep a play alive. I mean he just spins and runs and keeps going, and turns it into a touchdown. So, the less mobile he is, the better it is for us. I wish him a speedy recovery, but I hope he’s still gimpy a little bit this week. With all due respect to him.”

Wilson has been a huge pain in the butt for the 49ers for the past four seasons. Even with the injury, I would not be surprised to see him do some of his usual nonsense plays that nobody can stop. But if he is slowed by the ankle, and the 49ers defensive line can beat an inferior Seahawks offensive line, it could make this interesting.