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2 X-factors for Saturday’s Wild Card matchup: It’s all about the running game

And slowing down Geno

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We’re about 48 hours from kickoff as the 49ers look to beat the Seahawks for the third time this season. We know the stars will come to play. Here are two X-Factors for Saturday’s game.


Christian McCaffrey/Elijah Mitchell/Jordan Mason

The playoffs and the rainy forecast will call for the 49ers rushing attack to do the heavy lifting. In Week 15, the 49ers ran the ball 30 times between McCaffrey and Mason. Brock Purdy was injured with an oblique injury, but the plan was clear in hostile territory: control the clock and leave with a win.

Purdy will be asked to make throws to continue drives, as he has in his five starts. I would expect a run-centric game plan to protect the football and control the clock.

Seattle finished the season 30th in rushing yards per game (150.2) and 26th in rushing yards per play (4.86). Digging a bit deeper, Seattle allows the 28th most rushing yards in rushes behind the left tackle (6.0), the 26th most yards behind the right guard (5.18), and the 30th most up the middle (5.12).

Expect a heavy dose of the run on Saturday.


Deommodore Lenoir/Jimmie Ward

Tyler Lockett is Seattle’s threat downfield. Lockett led Seattle in touchdown receptions (9) with a 12.3 yards per reception average. He finished second in receiving yards behind D.K. Metcalf by 15 yards on six fewer receptions.

The biggest concern is when Lockett lines up in the slot. 42.4 percent of his routes have come from the slot. That number isn’t going to be as high on Saturday with the injury to Marquise Goodwin. Lockett’s slot percentage in Week 18 was 36.4 percent, as Cade Johnson led the team in slot snaps.

Jimmie Ward and Deommodore Lenoir will be tasked with slowing down the speedster. Ward has grown into his newfound role in the slot. Lenoir continues to be targeted by offenses. Charvarius Ward has handled Metcalf well in their two meetings.

Lockett will need to be contained to ensure the 49ers advance to the divisional round.