49ers'As surprising as the Week 1 loss in Chicago was, the Seattle Seahawks Week 1 win against the Denver Broncos was just as surprising. Seattle will look to carry that momentum into Santa Clara on Sunday and look to give the 49ers their first 0-2 start since 2017. Seattle's offense wasn't spectacular against Denver, scoring 17 points and totaling only 253 yards, but did just enough for the win. The 49ers' defense is coming off a disappointing finish against the Bears, allowing all 19 of Chicago's points in the second half.
With Geno Smith now running the show in Seattle, here are the five 49ers to watch on defense:
LB Dre Greenlaw
Part of what makes Greenlaw so good for the 49ers' defense is how aggressive he plays. Sometimes that aggressiveness comes back to bite Greenlaw, as shown on Sunday when he was called for two 15-yard penalties and had a missed tackle.
Greenlaw played 58 snaps against the Bears and looks to be the preferred second linebacker over Azeez Al-Shaair. If that's the case, the fourth-year linebacker will need to clean up his play and stay under control. Seattle is a prime opponent for Greenlaw to bounce back against, with the two biggest moments of his career coming against the division rivals.
CB Charvarius Ward and CB Emmanuel Moseley
While Russell Wilson isn't in Seattle anymore, his two favorite targets, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, still are and play big roles in the Seahawks' offense. Metcalf and Lockett were the two most targeted wide receivers (tight end Noah Fant had one more target than Lockett), combining for ten receptions on ten targets but for only 64 yards in the Seahawks' 17-16 win against Denver. Ward was the most targeted 49er against Chicago, and Moseley wasn't targeted once, but with conditions likely better in Santa Clara, they will likely have a tougher challenge on their hands with the Metcalf and Lockett duo.
DL Javon Kinlaw
It was a solid return for Kinlaw following his knee injury that kept him out for most of the 2021 season. He finished the game with two pressures on 39 but, most importantly, stayed healthy and was able to finish the game after what looked to be an early ankle injury in Chicago. Now comes a Seattle team that likes to run the ball and run it up the middle. Seattle ran the ball 18 times against Denver, and of those runs, 11 were up the middle. Kinlaw should see plenty of run-stopping opportunities, and if he and the rest of the interior defensive line can prevent big plays, it can only be beneficial to the 49ers' defense.
S Talanoa Hufanga
Sunday in Chicago may have been the best performance of Hufanga's young career where he finished with 11 tackles and an interception. He played 30 of his 58 snaps in the box where he got the majority of his tackles and tallied a pair of tackles for loss. Just like for the defensive line, his run support will be important against the Seattle rushing attack, but he will have a tough responsibility in containing Metcalf and Lockett over the top when lined up at free safety. Week 1 was a step in the right direction for Hufanga who will look to keep up his play for a solid Week 2 performance.
DE Samson Ebukam
For as good as Nick Bosa was on Sunday, Ebukam was just as good if not better than the 49ers' star pass rusher. Ebukam led the 49ers in Chicago with four pressures and three quarterback hurries while recording a sack. Seattle rebuilt their line over the offseason with two rookies and a new center, but the group struggled as they allowed 15 pressures on 31 dropbacks on Monday night.
What should excite Ebukam (and Bosa, for that matter) is Seattle's two tackles; Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas allowed seven of those pressures, and Cross was responsible for both sacks. Geno Smith isn't as mobile as Russell Wilson was either, so Ebukam could be in for a big day.