The quickest way to forget a loss is by winning your next game. The 49ers face their arch-nemesis Sunday afternoon as the Seattle Seahawks come to town. By now, you’re aware that Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have never lost three games in a row. You’re also aware that Kyl Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppolo haven’t lost back-to-back games.
Marc Delucchi: 49ers win, 34-28
This feels like an early make-or-break game for the Niners, and it gets right at my conflict in evaluating head coach Kyle Shanahan. He’s an elite offensive mind and has continuously maintained an upbeat locker room through several disappointing seasons. However, Shanahan’s track record managing the roster and aiding the team’s personnel moves is far more spotty.
I don’t think Jimmy Garoppolo is an average starting quarterback, but Shanahan has insisted that he’s good enough. Shanahan is an excellent play-caller, and, most importantly, he’s petty. The 49ers head coach doesn’t like being second-guessed, and I expect him to pull out several tricks on Sunday to allow Garoppolo to have a big game. Add in how out of sorts the Seahawks have looked defensively over the past two weeks, and I think the 49ers will be able to power their way to a win.
With that said, Seattle’s offensive weapons, much like Green Bay’s last week, could undo anything the Niners do. Already with two losses, the Seahawks are playing for their season too. If their defense rebounds, though, this could quickly get ugly for the 49ers, with Russell Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett tearing apart the Niners’ cornerbacks while Garoppolo’s turnover-prone play buries the offense. Still, that shouldn’t happen if San Francisco is a playoff team, which I think they are.
Kyle Posey: 49ers win, 31-27
It will take more than a calf issue to prevent George Kittle from playing in this game. I’ll believe it when I see it. Lost in the loss to the Packers was the 49ers' second-half efficiency on offense. They scored a touchdown on four of their final six possessions, were 4-for-4 in the red zone, and 7-for-11 on third downs.
I’m not used to watching a Seahawks defense that lacks elite athleticism. That’s the case this season. Moreover, there are coverage busts left and right. Shanahan’s pre-snap motion should create advantageous situations for his receivers.
That same motion will also allow the 49ers much-needed angles against a Seahawks defense that struggles against the run. Seattle is 26th in the NFL in opponents' third-down percentage. So if San Francisco continues to score touchdowns in the red zone, they’ll be OK.
Field goals won’t work on Sunday as the Seahawks are sure to put points up, especially with the Niners starting a new cornerback. Seattle has good numbers on offense, but they’re as Jekyll and Hyde as it gets.
Take last week, for example. Seattle scored 17 points in the first half and should have scored on each of their five first-half possessions. Instead, their offense punted twice on four possessions in the second half and turned the ball over on another while averaging 3.8 yards per play in three drives.
They’re a Super Bowl team in the first half to a team that looks hopeless without adjustments in the second half. Seattle hasn’t scored any points in the third quarter this season.
Kirk Cousins ate the Seahawks defense alive with play-action last week. Cousins had a 69% success rate through the air last week, and 61% of his passes went for a first down or a touchdown. Seattle can’t cover, and they look more discombobulated than any defense I’ve seen, as did Minnesota on screens. Seattle’s defense has allowed the opposing QB on play-action to complete 22 of 30 passes this season for 16 first downs, 300 yards, and a touchdown.
Both of those will be the difference, and that’s why I like San Francisco to win in a shootout as the offense picks up the defense this time around.
Rob Guerrera: Seahawks win, 30-20
The disgusting truth is that Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson own the 49ers. Wilson has won 14 of his 18 career starts against San Francisco, including six of his eight against Kyle Shanahan. Even the best 49ers team of the last seven years could only beat Mr. Unlimited once in a season, and that was by an inch or two.
I do think that the 49ers pass rush will have more of a chance to disrupt the passing game due to Wilson’s habit of holding onto the ball, but ultimately Russ will use his legs to buy just enough time to perforate San Francisco’s decimated secondary.
Offensively, the 49ers should be able to move the ball against a defense that has given up the most yards in the entire NFL. Then again, I thought that last week and the Niners had 25 total yards in the first quarter. As long as the offense continues to exclude anything outside the hash marks or more than 15 yards downfield, there just isn’t going to be a lot of room to operate.
One final thought: the 49ers may have to take a punch early in this game. This year, the Seahawks have scored more points in the first half than anybody else in football (62). Luckily, they’ve also scored the least amount of points in the second half (13). So if Shanahan can keep it close through two quarters, there may be an opportunity to turn the tide after halftime.
Yinon Raviv: Seahawks win, 34 - 30
How do you beat an elite mobile quarterback?
You do everything possible to avoid the position where it’s end of game, enough time on the clock, and only a one-score margin. Of course, you can play the whole game perfectly on defense, but if your offense hasn’t scored enough, those elite mobile QBs will make something happen if they need to drive 50 yards in 20 seconds.
Can the 49ers’ offense prevent themselves from being in the same position against Green Bay?
We’ll have to see a lot more from Jimmy. Nobody is particularly impressed with Seattle’s defense, but nobody was impressed by Green Bay’s defense. This “box-and-1” of loading the edges (to mix up my sports here) is clearly just effective against our offense. I keep thinking about that first half against Green Bay and just how ineffectual we looked on offense. Meanwhile, our defense can hang. I’m not saying they’re elite quite yet, but they can hang. They can keep the margins low enough for a more capable quarterback to put his foot on Seattle’s neck.
And I think Seattle has enough holes on their roster where we keep up or maybe even lead slightly. But I’m extremely nervous about the last five minutes. I don’t think Jimmy has the juice for this one, and I don’t think Kyle can scheme his way out of this. So I hope to be surprised.
Xavier Dixon: 49ers win 30-21
We already know that the Seattle Seahawks are a well-oiled machine. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson have been a major force in that beyond the Legion of Boom era. San Francisco needs the faithful to be rowdy when Seattle’s offense is on the field to pull this one out.
DeMeco Ryans’ play-calling has been sharp despite my frustrations of how he guarded Davante Adams in the final two plays last week. With that being said, I expect the players to challenge themselves and be better Sunday. The cornerback situation is hard to ignore when DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are scheduled to play. I’m predicting the defense to force a fumble and an interception (or two.) Which should set the offense up for success.
San Francisco has the opportunity to go into the bye 5-1 if the offense can score points. The offense has come out flat in the first quarter in the previous two games. This offense has been strung along with adequate quarterback play. When Jimmy Garoppolo plays at a higher level, the offense marches down the field with ease.
This will be one of the final straws if Garoppolo has a ton of deflating plays. John Lynch has put plenty of playmakers around him to put points on the scoreboard. The defense has made monumental stops in the last two games. I think the defense steps up and has a monster day to assist in a 49er victory.
Jordan Elliott - Seahawks 30 - 49ers 27
Seattle comes into this game on a two-game losing streak, and Russell Wilson has never lost three games in a row during his career. I don’t see that changing this week, as the Seahawks desperately need a win here to prevent themselves from going into a 1-3 hole before taking on the Los Angeles Rams next week.
The Seahawks’ defense appears to be abysmal on paper, but after watching a couple of their games, I think they are more misunderstood than flat-out bad. While the conventional thinking would lead you to believe that this is the perfect week for the 49ers offense to get back on track, I just think it’s too hard to ignore how well the Seahawks defense has played against the 49ers the last three or four times these two teams have met.
I think the 49ers put up a good fight, and it ends up being a hard-hitting divisional bout reminiscent of the games these two teams played early in the previous decade. My final prediction is that the Seahawks get the ball back down by four and needing a touchdown to win, and Wilson finds a way to pull out a miraculous win on a last-second touchdown in the final minute or so.
Tyler Austin - 49ers 34 - Seahawks 31
These two teams seem to be polar opposites of one another so far this season. While the 49ers have started games looking stagnant on offense, the Seahawks begin like they’ve been shot out of a cannon. Then, as 49ers manage to work themselves into a rhythm in the second half, the Seahawks nearly go dormant in the final two quarters.
The same can be said on defense, where the Niners rely on their scarily athletic and well coached group to keep the team within striking distance, the ‘Hawks have looked pedestrian and disorganized, allowing teams back into games that should’ve been a wrap.
Even down to quarterback play, the two teams couldn’t be more different. Garoppolo is the quick-release, middle of the field king, and Russell Wilson tries to hold the ball until he cracks the launch codes on a deep shot that flutters effortlessly into a receiver’s hands.
That all points to this game being agonizingly close, like every game seems to be when you play against Wilson, especially as he’ll attempt to avoid the first three game skid of his career. However, the Seattle defense has underperformed to such a point that the 49ers should have more than a fighting chance to keep up.
I’d expect the Shanahan to pick on their flat-footed linebackers and former cornerback, D.J. Reed, in the pass game, which, in a perfect world, should help setup a get-right game for the rushing attack against the porous unit. But it’s never easy against Seattle, so I’m imagining this all coming down to the final seconds with whoever has the ball last winning. For this prediction, that’s the Niners.