Matchup to Watch: 49ers’ Wide Receivers vs. Seahawks’ Secondary


Dec 23, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 42-13. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers took a huge loss this year when Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles . They could sure use his presence this week against the Seattle Seahawks, who have arguably the most imposing secondary squad the 49ers will face this season.

Seattle went against the conventional cornerback wisdom and drafted two huge players: Richard Sherman stands at 6’3″ 195 lbs. and Brandon Browner at 6’4″ 220 lbs. These players are known for their size, imposing will, and focus.

Some might claim that focus comes from the use of Adderall, an amphetamine used to assist individuals with ADHD to focus, that led to suspensions of both players. Browner missed four games last season and Sherman avoided a suspension because the chain of custody was broken on his positive drug test.

In addition to Seattle’s looming cornerbacks, safeties Cam Chancellor and Earl Thomas fill out the Seahawks secondary. Thomas is a prototypical Saftey, standing at 5;10″ and 202 lbs, he has ten interceptions over the first three years of his career. Chancellor, standing 6’3″ 232 lbs. and is another big player for his position.

Seattle’s secondary uses physicality to smother opposing wideouts and they have enough speed to keep up with players. However this week the Seahawks will likely miss the play of Browner, who is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Both Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell will see additional playing time if Browner doesn’t play.

San Francisco will want to showcase their running game in CenturyLink Field. Last week, the 49ers utilized the pass and Kaepernick achieved his first 400 yard game, while recording only 75 yards rushing. Meanwhile Seattle gave up five yards per rush to the Carolina Panthers last week. The 49ers will be running the ball more than last week, but the wideouts will play an important roll in the outcome of the Sunday night game.

Anquan Boldin will have a battle this week against Sherman. Boldin at 6’1″ 220 gives up a couple of inches to Seattle’s cornerback, but makes up for it with a weight advantage. Both players bring physicality to the game, and Boldin will have to use his experience to outwit Sherman to have a big game.

The 49ers lined Vernon Davis at wideout during the season opener and there is even more reason to put him there against the Seahawks. Vernon couples strength with speed, he is a freak — at 6’3″ and 250, he manages to run a 4.3 40-yard dash. Placing Vernon at wideout allows Vance McDonald to play more snaps at tight end.

If Crabtree was healthy, Davis would probably not be lining up at wideout, but with Browner out, the two losses negate each other.

Quinton Patton did not record a single reception last week, this week I see both him and McDonald recording multiple catches. After establishing the running game I predict the 49ers will be midly successful against Seattle in terms of passing; Kaepernick will throw for more than 250 yards and record multiple touchdowns this sunday.

The Seahawks in Seattle pose the biggest challenge for the 49ers wideouts during the regular season with the added factor of Seattle’s home crowd. The way the 49ers perform this Sunday will be a clear indication of their potential impact this season without Michael Crabtree.