San Francisco 49ers: Previewing the Seahawks


San Francisco 49ers‘ fans; it’s been a while. It feels like it’s been quite some time since the 49ers took the field; because it has been. The 3-6 49ers had their bye last week, which, weirdly enough, may have come at a bad time. They were actually looking alright with Blaine Gabbert taking over for Colin Kaepernick two weeks ago.

They didn’t play spectacularly on offense, but compared to most of the season, it’s not hard to improve. On defense, they were stout and displayed their strength. They held a high-powered Atlanta Falcons’ offense to just 16 points, and came away with one of the most surprising wins of the NFL season thus far.

Speaking of defense, linebacker NaVorro Bowman looked like a true leader of the defense. He himself had seven tackles and a sack, but the fact that the defense looked unified and powerful is what will be crucial whenever the time comes for the 49ers to contend once more. Look for Bowman to do big things this week as well, due to a slight chip on his shoulder. Make no mistake, there’s always room for rivalry, but there is never room for rude behavior to another human being. Sadly, several ignorant Seahawks “fans” chose to do the wrong thing and throw popcorn on a man who could have been looking at the end of his career. In the full video of the incident, you can hear plenty of fans in the crowd applauding Bowman getting helped up, along with several Seahawks players standing near Bowman and his 49er teammates. Either way, it’s going to be a game with plenty of emotions on both sides.

The 49ers and Seahawks have been rivals for many years now, and as important as all of the NFC Championships and end of the season bouts have been, this week is almost just as significant. San Francisco obviously doesn’t want to lose in Seattle anymore; they’ve had enough and losing there once more certainly won’t help a rebuilding team’s morale. This only increases when you recall the dud of a game the 49ers played several weeks ago when hosting the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, arguably have much more to lose. Backpedaling in an NFC West that suddenly doesn’t favor them was likely not a part of their plan for 2015. However, already being three games behind the leading Arizona Cardinals and tied with the mess of a St. Louis Rams’ team has placed them in the awkward position of needing to win nearly every remaining game. The 49ers want to win, but the Seahawks practically have to win.

For San Francisco, the game plan will be relatively simple:

  • Play Tight Defense
    The 49ers need to come out aggressive but patient on the defense. How can they be both? By not jumping the snap early, yet not being afraid to call a blitz. Also, they need to utilize linebackers like Bowman, who can cover slot receivers to take pressure off the secondary, when they are getting beaten on a drive, and by not being afraid to get creative. Mixing in players and packages that don’t always get fully utilized is the key to keeping a defense from getting stale and predictable.
  • Keep The Markers Moving

    The 49ers need to help themselves out by picking up those third-and-one situations early on. It’s no secret the Seattle crowd will be loud, and the 49ers practice with noise to help acclimate to it. If the 49ers can avoid the early string of three-and-outs that they are so darn prone to, they obviously have a better chance at an early lead, and even more importantly, it helps the defense to get more than a few moments of rest after they make a stop. Gabbert has been given the coaching staff’s vote of confidence-or at least their vote- and he now must prove that he’s more than a bust-turned-backup in this league.

    Next: NFC West Power Rankings for Week 9

    Stretch The Field

    When they aren’t in a third-and-one situation, the offense needs to take more chances from the start. This really boils down to a message to offensive coordinator Geep Chryst. Seattle is still a fierce team in the flats, with a strong core of linebackers and safeties who come up and hit hard on short passing routes. That’s why it will be so crucial to spread them all out and force them to play wide. Last week, the Cardinals and their receiving squad of

    Larry Fitzgerald

    and a handful of unknowns did this nicely. They ran many deep routes, forcing a single corner or safety to cover each of them, and this inevitably leads to openings for a deep ball at some point.

    36. Final. 13. 42. 20

    If the 49ers can follow these steps, they are likely to come away with a huge win in Seattle, something they haven’t been able to do since 2011. At this rate, the Seahawks may need this one just to stay alive in the West.