The San Francisco 49ers will travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks in what many are calling the game of the week. This is a match up of two very physical teams that like to run the ball and play stingy defense. Both of these teams are well coached and have play makers on both sides of the ball.
The Seahawks were able to give the 49ers a pretty severe beating the last time they played in Seattle. The crowd had an affect on the game right from the start and was a factor in causing a few penalties. They will be looking to set a record for loudest stadium in this game. The crowd noise makes it very hard to communicate at the line of scrimmage and before that in the huddle.
The 49ers do a lot of shifting and motion before the ball is snapped. That requires getting to the line with a good amount of time left on the play clock which will allows the shifts to happen. Delay of game penalties were a problem during the last game. Greg Roman and the offensive coaching staff will need to get the play call into Colin Kaepernick quickly.
There will be another obstacle once the 49ers are ready to snap the ball. The crowd noise will make it next to impossible to hear the cadence. This forces the offense to work on a silent count. There will surely be a few false start penalties this week for the 49ers. The twelfth man will fuel the Seahawks and will be a factor for sure.
Another way that the Seahawks can attack the 49ers is in the running game. They scored a touchdown in the first drive last year when they ran a stretch play that kicked out Rickey Jean Francois as Marshawn Lynch ran for a the scored. They will look to wear down the 49ers defensive line. It will be interesting seeing how the linebacker duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman will challenge the rushing attack.
The 49ers have a few new players in the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha is coming off of an okay game against the Green Bay Packers. He will need to step up when the Seahawks use their three receiver sets. They like to get vertical on the outside. Golden Tate has shown that he can make plays but the surprise last week was the second year player Jermain Kearse. He stepped up and had the go ahead touchdown against the Carolina Panthers on a 43 yard touchdown.
Teams have been able to go to max protection and get the ball deep against the 49ers. Russell Okung is one of the best left tackles in the game. He will have his hands full with the 49ers pass rush. Russell Wilson can get the ball down field if they can get protection and give the receivers time for their routes to develop.
Eric Reid is a rookie safety and will need to stay deepest of the deep to not allow any passes to go beyond him. The Seahawks will look to play action and teaser routes to get him to lose his depth and get out of position against the deep ball. Reid played really well in his NFL debut but this is another test for him.
The 49ers can get to Russell Wilson but when they do, they will need actually bring him down. There have been many times when Wilson was able to escape the pass rush and throw the ball to a receiver that comes open. Those kind of plays that are deflating to a defense and often times lead to a big gain.
Seattle will look to match up with the 49ers in a lot of man defense. Richard Sherman is said to have drawn Vernon Davis as his assignment. That will be an interesting match up because Sherman is one of the better cover corners in the NFL. Earl Thomas is very good at shrinking the field especially against seam routes because he can close on the ball so quickly.
The Seahawks pride themselves on stopping the run. Carolina was able to run the ball against them so rest assured they will be looking to rebound against the 49ers. They like to clog the middle by using a defensive front that from the Bear 4-6 defense. Both guards along with the center are covered by the left defensive end and both defensive tackles.This front forced offenses to immediately account for the defenders lined up directly in front of them, making it harder to execute blocking assignments such as pulling and trapping.
One linebacker lines up on the outside shoulder of the strong tight end and, like a defensive lineman, lines up on the line of scrimmage. He ensures nothing gets outside of him on the run. The other linebacker will line up on the line of scrimmage on the inside shoulder of the tight end. This covers the tight end and makes it difficult for the him to release easily. The middle linebacker will line up about four to four and a half yards off the line of scrimmage and directly in front of the strong offensive tackle. It also calls for the strong safety, Cam Chancellor, to line up closer to the line and directly in front of the weakside tackle. This could cause problems for the rushing game.
The 49ers like to use a trap play with Mike Iupati. They will have trouble doing this against the Seahawks stacked front. They also like to use angles and misdirection which allows blockers to get better leverage when they attack their assignments. The Bear front makes blockers have to be accountable for the man in front of them. Almost all of the offensive linemen and the tight end are covered.
The Seahawks will use this defense to control the 49ers rushing game. They know that if the 49ers can get the running game going, that will cause a number of problems for the defense. It opens up the play action pass. These teams are both very familiar with each other.
The Seahawks will have some ways to stop the 49ers and attack them on offense. The twelfth man will be looking to have an impact as well. There is no doubt that this will be a really good game. It will be a clash of the titans on Sunday Night Football.