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49ers-Seahawks: Three players who need to step up

San Francisco can put itself in a position to win the NFC West with a victory against their hated rivals.

Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

This Sunday’s matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks will see two bitter rivals play each other for the first time since a thrilling Week 17 matchup last season. Dre Greenlaw’s goal line tackle in the dying seconds helped the Niners prevail 26-21 and clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed.

The stakes aren’t as high this time around, but San Francisco needs a win if it wants to be in a similar position going into the final game of 2020. The 49ers are 4-3, and a win against the 5-1 Seahawks will get them within striking distance going into the second half of the season.

With all of the injuries, the Niners have been going with the next man up mentality. The reserves have played well the last two weeks, but the team will need more in Seattle if they want to escape the Pacific Northwest with a win.

Here are three players who need to step up for the 49ers.

Defensive lineman Arik Armstead

The $85 million man is the lone survivor amongst San Francisco’s top performers along the defensive line. DeForest Buckner was traded to the Indianapolis Colts, while Nick Bosa and Dee Ford are sidelined with injuries. Armstead finished the 2019 season with a career-high ten sacks but hasn’t had much success bringing down the quarterback this year. The 26-year-old has just 1.5 sacks this season, partly due to the extra attention he receives from opposing offenses with Bosa and Ford out. Pro Football Focus gives Armstead a 76.4 grade this season, 14th among all NFL edge defenders. His grade took a hit last week against the New England Patriots, where PFF gave Armstead a season-low grade of 51.3. The defensive lineman has five hurries and 7 QB knockdowns in 2020, but he needs to finish off plays. With a matchup against the elusive Russell Wilson on the horizon, it would be an excellent time for Armstead to do just that.

Running back JaMycal Hasty

Pressure on an undrafted rookie free agent? Yep. With Raheem Mostert plus Jeff Wilson Jr. out of the lineup and Tevin Coleman still a week away, Hasty will be in the spotlight in Week 8. San Francisco’s running game isn’t as dynamic with Jerick McKinnon in the backfield. Although he has performed admirably, Jet has lost a step after missing back-to-back seasons with serious knee injuries. Hasty should get the bulk of the carries in Seattle after showing his quickness and agility during three brief appearances. Hasty is averaging 5.2 yards per carry on 20 rush attempts this season, plus 25 yards receiving. 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has gone back to the team’s bread-and-butter, running the ball 37 times in each of the last two contests. If San Francisco wants to make it three wins in a row, it needs Hasty to step up against the bottom-ranked Seahawks’ defense.

Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne

It seems like each time a receiver goes down, Bourne makes this list. Stud pass-catcher Deebo Samuel tweaked his hamstring in the win over New England, so Bourne’s snap totals should increase after being on the field for just 45% of the offensive plays last week. Bourne is averaging career-highs in yards after the catch and average depth of target this season, but his 10% drop rate is almost his highest since entering the league. 49ers QBs have an 84.2 rating when targeting Bourne, the second-lowest of any player on the roster with at least 20 targets. Even though this is his only fourth year in the league, Bourne has the most experience of any San Francisco wideout. They will need him to make some big plays against a Seattle defense that gives up 368.7 passing yards per game, which is by far the worst in the NFL.

Which 49ers players do you want to see step up this week?