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3 Numbers to know: How DK Metcalf will test the 49ers secondary

Ambry Thomas faces another stiff challenge

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will look to improve its record against the NFC West to 3-0 with a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night for the two teams’ Thanksgiving tilt.

While not the first time the two franchises have met on Thanksgiving, the 49ers have a chance to do something that the franchise has only done once before in the rivalry: win four consecutive games against the Seahawks. The last time the 49ers accomplished the feat was in 2012, followed by a stretch where Seattle won 17 of the next 20 against San Francisco.

These are the numbers to know as the two teams enter the last matchup of this historic rivalry:

31.7

Percent. The Seahawks’ offense has converted 31.7 of its third downs this season, the second-lowest conversion rate this season.

One of the few spots the 49ers defense has struggled this season is stopping third downs. This year, Steve Wilks’ group has allowed the 10th-highest percent of third down conversions, allowing a first down on 40.9 percent of third downs. Part of the issue is despite the 49ers’ defense allowing the fifth-fewest yards so far this season, San Francisco has allowed the third-shortest distance to go on third downs, 6.65 yards.

On the other hand, Seattle’s offense, on average, has the 10th-furthest distance to go on its third downs, an average distance of 7.26 yards. That’s mainly due to its inability to run the ball, averaging the eighth-fewest yards per game at 96.6 per. The Seahawks also average the fifth-fewest yards per run on first down - 3.5 yards per attempt - with a near 50/50 pass/run ratio on the opening down, despite averaging 8.5 yards per pass attempt on first downs, fifth-best in the league.

If the 49ers’ defense can either end drives early or force Seattle’s offense - one of nine in the league that has more field goals made than touchdowns scored - to take three points at a time, it’ll be easy for the high-powered San Francisco offense to outpace.

21.1

Percent. Seattle’s defense has sent a blitz on 21.1 percent of plays, the seventh-lowest rate in the league.

The 49ers have faced two other teams this season that are in the bottom 10 in terms of blitz rate: Week 2 against the Rams (10th-lowest blitz rate) and Week 4 against Arizona (4th-lowest blitz rate. San Francisco’s pass protection allowed a combined nine pressures in those two games - six allowed in Los Angeles and three against the Cardinals. The 49ers’ have allowed at least double-digit pressures in every other game this season.

San Francisco could be without both its guards on Thursday - STATUS UPDATE - but Seattle might be damned if they blitz, damned if they don’t against Brock Purdy. The 49ers’ quarterback has the highest pass rating this year when not blitzed (113.0) and the third-highest when blitzed (117.8), with 10 of his 18 touchdown passes coming when the defense sends an extra man.

It’s a Seattle pass defense that drops defenders back while not forcing turnovers in the air, with only seven interceptions this season, tied for fourth-fewest in the league. Purdy should have plenty of time to survey the field on Thursday, which gives him a chance for a repeat performance the last time these two teams met.

28.8

Percent. According to Pro Football Focus, 28.8 percent of DK Metcalf’s targets this season are 20 yards or deeper, the sixth-highest percentage of targets of qualified receivers.

The 49ers’ defense has faced only one receiver with a higher percentage of targets over 20 yards when it met Jalin Hyatt, whose 59.1 percent of targets being deep shots leads the league. Hyatt, however, wasn’t targeted against the 49ers on 16 offensive snaps in the 49ers’ Week 3 win. Metcalf will see more than 16 snaps on Thursday night, that’s for sure.

Another cause of concern for the defense from Metcalf is the receiver has taken 74 percent of his wide snaps on the left side of the offense. With Charvarius Ward playing all but one wide snap on the left side of the defense, Metcalf will be lined up against Deommodore Lenoir in two-receiver sets, Ambry Thomas in three-receiver sets, with Ji’Ayir Brown playing over the top.

Metcalf lining up on the Thomas/Brown side would be a mismatch for the inexperienced safety duo. Still, the 49ers defense has allowed the lowest percentage of 20-plus-yard pass plays, allowing an explosive play on 5.5 percent of passes. Metcalf could cause issues, but the secondary of the 49ers have done an excellent job all season preventing the big plays.