The Seattle Seahawks like to tout the effectiveness of their so-called 12th Man, which is at times a way to simply describe their fans and at others a way to describe their advantage they have at home, where their fans are among the loudest in the NFL. Centurylink Field happens to carry sound quite well, and Seahawks fans sure can scream.
San Francisco 49ers fans are pretty loud too, but given the complete, utter and nearly-irredeemable disaster that is Levi’s Stadium, there isn’t even a crowd large enough to approach something like a home-field advantage. The Seahawks, though, have enjoyed such an intangible advantage for years and years.
However much credence you give to something like home-field advantage, it’s a fact that it’s harder for opposing offenses to handle an oppressively loud stadium. Getting plays called in is difficult and mistakes are often made. The 49ers as a whole are used to playing there and dealing with this environment, but there is actually a large part of the team that have never experienced it.
Including every rookie currently on the 53-man roster (from which there are several starters), and some key offensive veterans: quarterback Brian Hoyer, wide receiver Pierre Garcon and fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Obviously, any rookie wouldn’t have played in Seattle, but given that the 49ers have so many contributors that are rookies, it’s worth highlighting. On offense there’s George Kittle, Trent Taylor and Matt Breida, all rookies who could easily be responsible for false starts and other transgressions.
Defensively, there is, of course, Solomon Thomas and a long list of rookies who could contribute. Noise is technically less of an issue for defensive players, but the roar can be so intense that mistakes are made, even when the Seattle offense is on the field.
Garcon has played the Seahawks twice in his career, both times in home games for Indianapolis and Washington. He had 71 yards against them in Indianapolis in 2009 and just 23 yards in Washington in 2014.
Juszczyk has played Seattle just one time in the regular season, in Baltimore in 2015. In that game, he didn’t manage a reception or a carry.
Hoyer, in his journeyman career, has never faced the Seahawks at all. He’s played in some tough places, but the Seahawks will be an entirely new test for him. The fact that it’s going to happen at CenturyLink Field just makes things that much more intense.