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2 X-factors for Thursday night football: It’s all about the 49ers defensive line

And it always has been

New Orleans Saints v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We’re a few hours away from the 49ers potentially winning the NFC West. But, before we get there, here are a pair of X-factors on both sides of the ball that’ll help make a difference.

Offense: Brandon Aiyuk

With Deebo Samuel’s absence, Aiyuk stands to gain more of a target share. Aiyuk is on the doorstep of his first 1,000-yard season. This week he faces a test in Tariq Woolen. The rookie is tied for the league lead in interceptions with six.

This matchup will be the most intriguing, as Aiyuk will be counted on to help Brock Purdy through his biggest test. Woolen has proven to be an impact player with 13 pass defenses and two fumble recoveries.

Aiyuk has taken strides all season. However, this may prove to be his biggest test yet.

Defense: The defensive line

Citing the defensive line seems obvious. But, as the driving force of this elite defense, each week, this unit is more than an x-factor.

However, this week it will be imperative for the line to disrupt and pressure Geno Smith. The Seahawks are fourth in the NFL in passing yards per play with 7.40 yards.

Seattle’s starting offensive line has allowed a total of 112 pressures. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are big plays waiting to happen. One of the best ways to slow that down is to pressure the QB, stifle the run, and force Seattle to become one-dimensional.

Coming into Thursday’s game, Seattle boasts the fourth-highest PPG total in the NFL at 26.3. The 49ers are first in the NFL at 15.2.

Strength on strength.