Okay, okay, we’re back on the road Empire faithful, not too far from Century Link for the biggest game of the season. A rematch with the Seattle Seahawks that has more storylines intertwined in it than any of reality show.
This is it faithful, our time, our turn, to take back our respect, our division, and also earn a first-round bye, home-field advantage, and more rest for our guys rehabbing to get back on the field heading into the playoffs.
We took a short detour to discuss Kentavius Street, but now we’re back on track. Go ahead and put your seat belt back on so we can get moving again. This is easily the game of the year. The 12-3 San Francisco 49ers vs. the 11-4 Seattle Seahawks and the division (among other things) on the line. I can’t wait, and I know the team can’t either. This is personal, not just business.
Seattle walked out of Levi’s Stadium, the first game with a 3 (27-24) point win in overtime (OT). Rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin was money on an earlier 47-yard field goal but was shaking like a crap game as he missed a second 47-yard field goal in OT.
As a result, the 49ers missed an opportunity to win the first game of the season series and remove the tie-breaker element. But don’t you worry one bit, because the 49ers have their chance at redemption tonight. And as I stated in the tweet below, this time, they don’t miss!
We haven't won in Seattle since December 24, 2011. THAT CHANGES NEXT SUNDAY NITE! WE'RE WALKING INTO THE LINK & TAKING OUR 1ST RD BYE & HEALING TIME! In terms of them being hit with key injuries kool story but they preaching to the choir. LET'S GO GET IT BABY! #GoNiners #AGNB https://t.co/kppofS0HWm— Silverado Kev (@Silverado_Kev) December 23, 2019
This time, it’s the 49ers turn to walk out of Century link with a win and much more. Last game, the 49ers were missing George Kittle as he was still out with an injury and Emmanuel Sanders, who left the game early with an injury. This made them very limited on offense.
Jadeveon Clowney also had the game of his life, two Jimmy Garoppolo fumbles, and Russell Wilson had to again dig deep into his bag of tricks. To make matters worse, this was also a night the 49ers receivers decided to have a drop party — no way those stars align again.
Speaking of stars aligning, let’s now discuss what Head Coach Kyle Shanahan, General Manager John Lynch, and the 49ers will need to do to ensure they cook up the best meal of the regular season and have all their stars align with their first win in Seattle since December 24, 2011.
Keep Jadeveon Clowney on his side of the line of scrimmage
I had to blow some dust off the Mortal Kombat one time; I mean, it is round 2, right? But this time, the 49ers get this one. To do so, Joe Staley will need to redeem himself and take full advantage to take his respect back.
No secret, round 1 went to Jadeveon Clowney. Last time these two met, Staley was fresh back in the lineup from injury, and it showed. No need to discuss the stats again, just know Clowney had his way with Staley in the first game.
While Clowney owned Staley the majority of the night, Clowney also had his way with right tackle Mike McGlinchey as well. When you add in the performance inside by Jarran Reed and Puna Ford, the offensive line as a unit didn’t look good period, it was plenty of blame to go around with this unit.
This time around, the 49ers will need to ensure not just Clowney is held in check, but also any other player across from them as well. This unit gave up five sacks and two forced fumbles in the first game.
Come on, hogs, give Jimmy time to be Good Jimmy, and the running backs holes to run through and eat up yards on the ground. This alone will further allow Jimmy to be Good Jimmy as the run game is clicking and thus set up the play-action.
Play disciplined defense to limit Russell Wilson
While I know Russell Wilson is a magician in pads; I also know he can be held in check and contained. The 49ers kept him contained for the most part the first game; they just were unable to shut down his magic show, completely.
Seattle's 3 scoring drives in regulation racked up a grand total of 87 yards.— Kyle Madson (@KyleAMadson) November 13, 2019
Seattle's drives that didn't start with a 49ers turnover:— Kyle Madson (@KyleAMadson) November 13, 2019
The defense actually did a pretty good job defending Wilson, but the times he escaped the pocket to extend plays is when he worked his magic and made the defense pay. Not to mention, due to turnovers, the 49ers gifted Wilson short fields. THAT CAN’T HAPPEN TONIGHT! A big part of why I mentioned to play with discipline on defense is because too often this season the 49ers defense has bit on play-action (PA), namely on the backside.
If the 49ers want to win this game, they’ll have to be much more disciplined upfront when squeezing down the pocket and shutting off running lanes. Also, they’ll need to play much more soundly (staying home) on the backside when in zone. So long as the front four can close down the pocket, force him to climb the pocket and escape up the middle, they’ll be fine. Easier said than done, but it’s the (fundamental) truth. Edge pressure and a solid rush from the interior.
Like most teams, Seattle likes to run the ball and use PA to keep the linebackers expecting (and biting) on the run. This serves two purposes mainly. For one, if the linebackers bite too hard on the run action, chances are guys are running free just beyond the area they vacated, or even worse crossing their face running loose.
This also causes the backside defensive end to bite on the run, essentially laying out the red carpet for either Wilson to take off for chunk yardage or to get the ball to one of his play makers in space.
If the 49ers defense has been watching film, I’d like to think the issues with the backside defensive ends and linebackers chasing the action away (not staying home) have been addressed and resolved. See, last week it was Jared Goff finding an open man to get the ball to.
This week, it’s the much more mobile Wilson. If this defense has the same issues with the backside on PA because they end crashed on the run action, it’s going to be a long night. Let’s go defense, tighten it up.
Aggressive yet smart play-calling (make the defense account for every skill position)
This offense thus far has been both exciting to watch and to exceed expectation; they’ve also had performances that is the sometimes boring, stale, and simply confusing. I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’m not the only one that has scratched their head at some of Shanahan’s play-calling/play selection.
In all his genius, simply put, there have been several calls that just seemed like he perhaps hit the “Ask Madden” button on his controller. Be it the play call itself, or the player the play was designed for, at times its suspect. But most others, it’s a thing a beauty and very fun to watch.
That is the type of play calling he will need tonight. Keep the Seahawks off-balance with sets, personnel, motions, and plays to whoever is out there. This game Shanahan has the luxury of tight end George Kittle healthy, as well as the full services of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Mix in Deebo Samuel, Kendrick Bourne, Kyle Juszczyk, Ross Dwelley, any of the running backs, and even Richie James Jr. if he’s feeling adventurous, and you’ve got one potent, pick your poison, damned if I do, damned if I don’t type offense. The name of the game is keeping the defense guessing.
I want nothing more than to see Shanahan in rare form with his pass selection, allowing Jimmy Garoppollo to be good Jimmy getting the ball out to the open man getting everybody possible involved. In terms of his play selection in the run game, as I’ve said a few times this season, I’d love to see Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, and Matt Breida all have fingerprints on this game and get close to or eclipse 100 yards rushing.
Okay, I know that’s a bit extreme (but possible), so I’ll be good with at least two of them doing so. To be brutally honest, I don’t just want the 49ers to merely beat Seattle; I want them to obliterate them.
Embarrass them, take their hearts (early) and have them not knowing which way is up and bickering with each other as to why they can’t stop what’s happening. Allow me to refer to a past tweet to illustrate what I mean.
Live look at Shanahan as he sent in the play when already up 30-8 last night. Happy victory Monday @49ers faithful. 10-1 in these streets. But we pretenders though. We ain't played nobody though. As I've said, this team is SPECIAL! LET'S GO! #BaltimoreIsOnTheClock pic.twitter.com/VQLhAZSpUP— Silverado Kev (@Silverado_Kev) November 25, 2019
Yes, sweep the leg! Give Wilson the Aaron Rodgers treatment. Let’s go get it 49ers, and convincingly! Of course, I (and the rest of the faithful) will be fine with just a win in general. But I’d be remiss if I said I didn’t want a blowout.
We have arrived: It’s time to silence these 10+2’s
Look, I want to thank you for riding and making this one of the best rides thus far this season. I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did, and I’m telling you I had a blast this trip. You know what will make the ride we just had that much more meaningful, don’t you?
If when you and the faithful go in there and invade yet another stadium with a sea of red and these 49ers put it to the Seahawks like it’s been the eight years and five days it’s been since they last won up here. As I told you earlier in the ride, it’s been too long, and this time they don’t miss!
They need to jump on them early (as they did the first game going up 10-0) and stay on them. They need to be able to do what they want and when they want as both the run and pass are working. Take the crowd, Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, out the game early. Keep the ball out of Wilson’s hands and score often.
I see the 49ers winning this game convincingly, but in the event they fail to execute in the areas mentioned above, this will be closer than it needs to be. Let’s go Niners, give the Seahawks an old school, eight-year (site decorum) whooping!