San Francisco 49ers front-four will be critical to success against the Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers will need to rely on their dominant defensive line if they are to have success this Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

The San Francisco 49ers sit at the halfway point of the season with an 8-0 record as the only undefeated team left in the NFL. And they’ve done so on the back of a dominant defense that may be the league’s best.

At the forefront of that defense has been the team’s incredible defensive line that has managed to transform a bottom-10 unit into an undisputed top-five defense.

Some even argue that it’s the best in the league.

The 49ers have already managed 30 sacks in 2019 which is just seven off from their bottom-five output from last season. In two weeks’ time, they may very well pass their 2018 total through just 10 games in 2019.

And when the 49ers take on their division rivals in the Seattle Seahawks this week, there will be no position group more crucial to victory than their front-four.

San Francisco might be 8-0, but that hasn’t prevented an onslaught of detractors from questioning the greatness of this 49ers team. After all, just two of their opponents this season have a winning record and the combined record of teams they’ve faced is just 22-43-1.

It’s understandable to see the pushback. That’s why this week’s matchup is so crucial.

Not only will the 49ers be looking to take full command of a very competitive NFC West — which they could do with a victory over the 7-2 Seahawks. But they will also be looking to prove themselves to the NFL world.

This is the 49ers’ biggest test of the season. Sure their blowout victories over the Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers proved a lot, but the Seahawks are arguably a better team than both.

And the stakes are always high in rivalry games — especially one with as much pre-game hype as this one.

Seattle is good, but they’re far from an unbeatable team. All but two of the Seahawks’ nine games this season have finished with one-score margins and a historically dominant Seattle defense has taken a step back.

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And while the team’s offensive line is improved from the abysmal state it was in a couple of years ago, it’s still no better than league-average. Starting center Justin Britt has been lost for the year and his replacement, Joey Hunt, has had his fair share of struggles.

How will the offensive tackle duo of Duane Brown and Germain Ifedi deal with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford? Brown is solid but it’s likely that Ifedi will be matched up with Ford which should be a mismatch in the 49ers favor.

And let’s not forget about Arik Armstead who has experienced a career resurgence in the 49ers new Wide-9 set. He’s seemingly found his calling as an edge rusher who lines up at defensive tackle and it’s worked wonders for him this season.

DeForest Buckner is still a dominant force in the interior and the 49ers have even seen some solid production from players like Ronald Blair and D.J. Jones — with the latter particularly impressing against the run.

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The entire Seattle team revolves around the MVP-caliber play of Russell Wilson. Limit Chris Carson and the ground game and you will force Wilson to throw the ball. Force Wilson to throw the ball and let the pass rush go to work.

They will need to do a better job of containing Wilson in the pocket and making tackles — two things they struggled with against the Arizona Cardinals. But if they could force the Seahawks to become one-dimensional, the pass rush should be able to feast.

The 49ers need a win this Sunday and it will be up to the team’s front-four to set the tone early on and carry them to victory.

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And given what we’ve seen from them this year, it’s obvious that they have it in them.