The San Francisco 49ers hypothetically beat the Patriots to improve to 7-0, though 24% of you picked the Niners to lose, which was the highest percentage to date. San Francisco travels to Seattle to take on their arch-nemesis. Can the Niners make it eight in a row?
Reason for: Too many favorable matchups
There will be no secrets when these two teams meet each other this season. Both teams know each other like the back of their hand. This time around, there’s no Jadeveon Clowney to ruin the 49ers offensive attack single-handedly. Clowney played out of his mind during the first meeting of 2019. The Seahawks still struggle to block anyone, let alone the best defensive line in the game. On defense, Jamal Adams is sure to be a pain, but when you can make an argument for your safety being the best pass rusher, there’s a problem.
I don’t think fans acknowledged some of the throws that Jimmy Garoppolo got away with last season in both games. I also think Seahawks fans put too much stock into the 49ers miscues. Kendrick Bourne has a pass go off his hands as the 49ers are driving. The only reason the first matchup was close was thanks to a bad snap in the first half.
Getting back to the matchups, Seattle ran base defense 69% of the time in 2019. That’s twice as much as the next closest team. Kyle Shanahan loves to dictate what the defense does by using 21 personnel, so the Seahawks play right into his strengths. I could see plenty of 22 personnel against Seattle. One play the 49ers might spread Seattle out from 22 and have Jordan Reed on rookie Jordyn Brooks. With motion, you could see a receiver on a linebacker.
Seattle’s starting wideouts are better than they’re given credit. We’ll get to them in the next section. It’s Seattle’s offensive line that’s in over their heads against the Niners upfront. Against most teams, really. Last year, Seattle ran more six-man offensive line combos than any team in the league. They do everything they can to protect their quarterback. In 2019, the Seahawks allowed 12 sacks to an unblocked rusher. That’s four more than the next team. Seattle will have three new starters. This offseason, they signed two players that have not played since 2017.
Seattle will need a bit of “hero ball” to win, which leads us to...
Argument against: You know who
DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are a formidable duo that can make plays at every level of the field. Metcalf is good, but, to me, his game is elevated a bit by Russell Wilson. Every time I watch Wilson, I’m impressed. Everyone knows Wilson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and I’m willing to say he’s even better than what you remember. The numbers don’t do Wilson’s play justice.
The Seahawks ranked No. 2 in DVOA on passes beyond the line of scrimmage. They ran the fewest screens in the NFL, so Wilson doesn’t get any “gimme” throws. Last year, Seattle’s offense targeted Nick Bosa’s over-aggressiveness on play-action. That allowed a few big plays for the Seahawks offense and will be something to keep an eye on this season. Wilson will hold onto the ball too long and run into sacks. That’s an area where the 49ers have to take advantage.
Too often, you’ll have Wilson dead to rights, but he slips out of your grasps and will extend the play for a first down. He’s a playmaker. You know it. I know it. Everyone that’s watched the NFL knows it. Sometimes, good offense beats good defense. For Wilson, that’s the case far too often and generally the reason why Seattle wins.
Will the 49ers beat Seattle on the road?
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