If you are going to make bold predictions, I feel like we should hold the writer accountable. Last week, I predicted Brandon Aiyuk would have a career-high in receiving yards, Kirk Cousins would match his interception total for the season, and George Kittle would score a touchdown for the fourth game in a row.
0-3. Aiyuk didn’t crack 100 yards, Cousins threw one interception but not two, and Kittle failed to find the end zone. One prediction had Fred Warner getting his first interception of the season. Correct position, wrong player.
This week, in a rivalry game, anything goes. Seattle will go out of its way to get a victory at home, while the 49ers will be happy to get out of Lumen field with a win. On KNBR Friday morning, Kyle Shanahan said he’s expecting this game to come down to the final possession.
Here are my three bold predictions and why I believe Shanahan is wrong.
49ers win convincingly
The last time these two teams met in October, the Seahawks won by a touchdown. Last year, Seattle won by three in the final meeting and ten in the first meeting. In 2019, the 49ers won the NFC West after a five-point victory and earlier in the season lost a heartbreaker in overtime.
The last time the 49ers beat Seattle by more than one possession was a decade ago when the Niners led at halftime 16-0, thanks to a pair of Tedd Ginn punt and kick returns for a touchdown.
Or, before Russell Wilson.
San Francisco’s players and coaches are all saying the right things leading up to the game. Deep down, they know. They’re aware that the Seahawks are a sinking ship. You can look at Monday night’s game against Washington as Seattle was this close to winning, or you could look at it as that game isn’t close if Washington has a kicker.
This year, the pendulum has swung the other way for Seattle. The ball is no longer bouncing their way. Their stars on offense are hardly involved, and the ones on defense have a date with Father Time.
Replacing Deebo Samuel won’t be easy, nor will playing defense without Fred Warner. Still, controlling both lines of scrimmages will be the name of this game. I’m aware of the history between these two teams. The Seattle team that’s been on the field the past month isn’t the same team you’re used to seeing.
The 49ers win and do so convincingly.
Trey Lance sees the field
Trey Lance hadn’t played a meaningful snap in nearly two months when he started at Arizona. Kyle Shanahan had a fascinating answer as to why Lance hasn’t seen the field earlier this week. I’m paraphrasing here, but Shanahan essentially said it’s difficult for him to get into a rhythm when he’s shuffling back and forth between quarterbacks when the defense is playing each quarterback differently.
That answer was honest and made plenty of sense. On Thursday, Mike McDaniel said Lance has been developing behind the scenes taking scout team reps. Lance was seen on the sideline with a headset on against the Vikings, so there’s some process of development going on.
The No. 3 overall pick played the last time these two teams met when Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury. That won’t be how Lance sees the field this Sunday. He’ll be far from a Deebo replacement, but I’m predicting Lance gets mixed in during a short-yardage or red zone situation.
San Francisco hasn’t gone to this look in ages. The beauty is Seattle isn’t expecting it, and you don’t have to remake your offense since these packages have already been installed. It may not be double-digit plays, but Lance will take some snaps on Sunday.
Seattle doesn’t eclipse double digits
When you think of the Seahawks, you think Russ, D.K. Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett. When you watch them, you see a team struggling against Washington, Arizona, shutout against Green Bay, and scratch and claw to get to ten points against the Saints.
Seattle is 30th yards per drive, 26th in points per drive, first in turnovers per drive, dead last in time of possession and plays per drive, and second to last in drive success rate. The eye test matches the numbers.
I’m betting on the Niners cornerbacks, which is a scary proposition, and them not allowing the big play. Josh Norman didn’t play the last game against Seattle. For as much crap as we (I) give him, Norman allowed 59 yards last week (29 came on a busted play), 15 the week before, 29, 27, and 23 in his past five games.
Emmanuel Moseley has given up 58 yards in his past four games. But, quietly, pass interference aside, the 49ers cornerbacks have been competent during the past month.
Wilson’s moon balls have been few and far between per Sharp Football Stats. Seattle has been in the bottom-10 in both explosive passing and rushing plays since Week 5. Knowing they can’t run the ball or possess a quick passing game, it’ll be challenging to move the ball against the 49ers.