The San Francisco 49ers open Levi's Stadium for the 2022 season with an important divisional matchup against the rival Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers dropped their opening game 19-10 against the Chicago Bears, and the Seahawks upset Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos 17-16 on Monday night. Sunday turns into what might be a must-win with the risk of dropping to 0-2 a possibility.
These are the three matchups to watch as the 49ers hope to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2017:
CB Emmanuel Moseley vs. WR DK Metcalf
DK Metcalf has been a thorn in the 49ers' side since Seattle drafted the receiver during the 2019 NFL Draft. In his six career games against the 49ers, Metcalf has 36 receptions on 62 targets for 458 yards and four touchdowns. Metcalf benefited from having Russell Wilson as his quarterback in those games, but now he enters Sunday with Geno Smith. Metcalf was Smith's most targeted receiver in their Week 1 win against Denver with seven, but all but one of those targets were within ten yards of the line of scrimmage.
Metcalf played 25 of his 38 wide snaps on the left side of the offense during Week 1, according to PFF. If that holds true on Sunday he will match up against Emmanuel Moseley who played all 44 of his wide snaps on the right side of the defense. Sunday will mark the sixth time Metcalf faces off against Moseley who has been targeted 30 times while covering Metcalf allowing 16 receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns with five pass breakups.
DE Samson Ebukam and DE Nick Bosa vs. LT Charles Cross and RT Abraham Lucas
Just like the 49ers, the Seahawks have a rebuilt offensive line with three new starters including first-round pick Charles Cross and third-round pick Abraham Lucas. Cross and Lucas were in for a tough Week 1 against a Denver pass rush that featured Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory. The two rookie tackles combined to allow seven pressures and five quarterback hurries on 35 pass-blocking plays with Cross allowing the only two sacks of the night.
It won't get much easier for the duo of tackles on Sunday with Samson Ebukam and Nick Bosa on deck. The 49ers pass rushing duo combined for seven pressures and a sack each against the Bears in Week 1. Ebukam alone was just as impressive in the run game, finishing with a 43 percent run stop win rate which was third-highest in the league last week. Another benefit for the 49ers' pass rush is no more Russell Wilson avoiding sacks with his mobility as his replacement Geno Smith isn't nearly as mobile.
49ers rush offense vs. Seahawks rush defense
The 49ers' rotation of running backs should be able to run against this Seattle defensive line. The Seahawks allowed 103 yards on 20 Broncos rushing attempts and were two goal-line fumbles away from a pair of rushing touchdowns as well. While Denver ran the ball on 31 percent of their snaps Monday night, Kyle Shanahan is likely to stay closer to the 55 percent of run plays he called against the Bears. Even with an injured Elijah Mitchell, Shanahan will have a deep running back room that includes Jeff Wilson and Deebo Samuel but will also use Lance as a runner.