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The NFC West rivals will battle for first-place in the division at Candlestick.
Two divisional foes coming off drastically different Week 6 contests will meet on Thursday Night Football, when the San Francisco 49ers host the Seattle Seahawks at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The 49ers were surprisingly “out-physicaled” against the Giants last week, losing the NFC Championship Game rematch 26-3 at home. Meanwhile, the Seahawks overcame a 23-10 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Patriots 24-23 in dramatic fashion.
When the Seattle Seahawks have the ball:
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had been fairly inconsistent through five weeks, but he had his best game by far in the Patriots win on Sunday. Wilson threw for 293 yards and three scores, including the game-winning 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with less than two minutes to go. The young signal caller will need Marshawn Lynch and the running game to get going after two subpar weeks, as playing one-dimensional football against the stingy 49ers is not a formula for success.
San Francisco ranks No. 1 in the league after six weeks, allowing only 275.8 yards per game. However, Patrick Willis and company are company off a performance where they allowed 149 rushing yards to the Giants and did not cause any turnovers or sacks. The 49ers’ focus tonight will be on Lynch, who rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown when these teams met last Christmas Eve. If the Niners can limit Seattle’s run game, they should be able to force the youthful Wilson into mistakes.
When the San Francisco 49ers have the ball:
The San Francisco offense is known for its power running attack, but the Giants held Frank Gore to 36 yards on eight carries. Additionally, Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is expected to miss this game with a concussion. The 49ers will need Gore and Kendall Hunter to grind out tough yards against an elite Seattle run defense. After throwing for eight touchdown passes and just one interception in the first five games of the season, quarterback Alex Smith tossed an uncharacteristic three picks in the loss to New York. He must get back to protecting the ball and completing a high percentage of his passes tonight.
The Seattle defense has been excellent against the run in 2012, ranking No. 2 in the NFL by allowing only 70 yards per game on the ground. The most rushing yards by an opposing running back against the Seahawks this year was 55 by the Rams’ Steven Jackson, and they will look for more of the same versus Gore and the 49ers. The physical Seattle secondary has intimidated opponents all season with its solid run support and punishing hits on pass catchers.
This NFC West battle should be an old-fashioned slobberknocker, with yards very difficult to come by. The quarterback who can make some first downs through the air and not turn the ball over should lead his team to a huge divisional victory. We’ll take San Francisco to bounce back from its worst loss under coach Jim Harbaugh and win a close one at home.
49ers 20, Seahawks 16
—By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)