This Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks for the second time this season. In Week 2, the Seahawks beat the 49ers 29-3.
The 49ers are looking to avenge their last two matchups at Seattle, where they have been beaten by the margin of 71-16. The seemingly big difference between this game and the last two is that the game will be played in San Francisco at Candlestick Park, where the Seahawks have not won since 2008.
The Seahawks are hot off a big win against the New Orleans Saints and are coming to Candlestick with an infinite amount of momentum. The 49ers are hoping to stop that momentum in its tracks and prove to the NFL that they are still a legitimate contender.
The Seahawks are being touted as the best team in football and essentially already being handed the Lombardi Trophy; but for good reason. They really do look to be the most balanced and dominant team in football. The Seahawks have an uncanny ability to win close games and come out victorious in games that they should lose. We’ve seen it plenty of times this year such as against the Panthers, the Texans, the Rams, and even the Buccaneers. These games prove that they have flaws and they can be beaten. You just need to know how to beat them. And just how do you beat the Seahawks?
I’ve watched a good amount of Seahawks games this year, and one thing stands out to me. They like to get into your head. We’ve all seen the arrogance from the Seahawks defense, and there is a reason for that. They like to make you think that they’re better than you and make you start doubting yourself. And it works. Especially when they’re at home. On offense, they don’t usually just line up and beat you with raw talent and ability, they run around you until you’re tired and dizzy and don’t know what’s up and what’s down. Then once again, you starting doubting yourself. You begin to try to cheat to one side, and then make you pay for it.
In order to beat the Seahawks, you must do what they try to do to you. You have to get into their heads before they get into yours. You must stop Lynch and then get into Russell Wilson’s head and rattle him. What do all four of the teams I mentioned before have in common? They all have good defenses that made it tough on Wilson to do anything, and in turn, their offense practically shut down. The Seahawks have talent in their wide receiver corps, but they don’t have any world beaters. The blueprint to stop their offense was shown best by the Rams. You stack the box against Lynch and you harass Wilson on every snap.
The 49ers have always done a decent enough job of slowing down Russell Wilson. In their three games against him, Wilson has had some of the worst games of his career. In their first game, Wilson had his all time worse quarterback rating of his career at 38.7. And earlier this year, the 49ers handed him his second worse rating of the season at 63.9. He has also never thrown for over 200 yards against the 49ers and only has five touchdowns to three interceptions. But what they haven’t done well is stopping Lynch. In their last three-match ups, Lynch has ran for 103, 138, and 98 yards. The 49ers need to take a page from the Rams’ book and do what they did. Sell out in order to stop the run and trust your secondary to stop their receivers.
The 49ers need to bring pressure all day. Every snap they need Wilson to be wondering when and where the hit is going to come. But more importantly, they need to make sure they get him the first time. Wilson and the Seahawks make their money by extending the play and creating a positive from the negative. The 49ers need to make sure that doesn’t happen. They just can’t afford to give the Seahawks second chances. The defense has been playing extremely well for about the entire season, but they are going to need their best performance yet to beat the Seahawks. But in order to win they’re going to need help from the offense. They can’t do it on their own.
Obviously the offense needs to put up points. That goes without saying. The offense has been doing fairly well the last two games, but they are going to face a real test on Sunday against the Seahawks’ defense. They can’t afford to have a repeat of the game earlier in the season. If the defense gives them a chance to score and win, the offense has to take advantage of it. Whether it be with Frank Gore and the running game, or Colin Kaepernick and the passing game, they need to get points on the board. The 49ers can’t afford to settle for field goals like they have been this season. They’ve been letting teams stay in the game for too long when they could just end it early in the game. If they do this against the Seahawks, then the Seahawks will make them pay. They need to score touchdowns any chance they get if they want to win this game.
Obviously it’s easier said than done. It’s easy to sit back and write what should be done or what needs to be done or how they should do it and criticize the team when they don’t perform well. The 49ers know all of this and more, but everyone just needs to keep in mind that once you’re on the field, no amount of talking is going to help. The 49ers just need to prepare well and be ready for anything and everything the Seahawks throw at them. This is a winnable game, and the 49ers absolutely need to win it. Not just for their playoff hopes, but to prove to the rest of the league that they are for real.