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San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks Prediction and Preview

Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

Elijah Mitchell and the 49ers look for a fourth straight win and to improve their playoff positioning when they take on the skidding Seahawks in Seattle

A pair of NFC West rivals are kicking off their December schedule on Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks face off at Lumen Field in Seattle. These two teams met back in Week 4 at Levi's Stadium, and the Seahawks won that game by a score of 28-21. This game was supposed to be on "Sunday Night Football," but due to Seattle's freefall, the NFL flexed it to the late afternoon.

San Francisco (6-5) continued its playoff surge in style with a 34-26 win over Minnesota last Sunday. The offense displayed a great deal of balance with 215 passing yards and 208 on the ground. Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers' complex rushing attack with 133 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. Debo Samuel chipped in two rushing touchdowns as he rushed for 66 yards on the day. Time of possession was a huge difference-maker, as the offense held on to the football for more than 37 minutes, which really paid off in the third quarter. Azeez Al-Shaair led the defense with eight tackles and an interception. San Francisco also did a great job against the run, limiting the Vikings to just 67 rushing yards. Minnesota went just 2-for-8 on third down, which helped the 49ers' defense fresh all game long.

On the other side, Seattle (3-8) likely saw its faint hopes of making the playoffs come to an end with a 17-15 road loss on Monday night to Washington. Typically, in a close game, you would expect the stats to reflect an evenly played contest. However, this matchup was not as close as the final score indicated. Washington had 26 first downs and kept the football for more than 40 minutes, running 79 plays on the night. Russell Wilson showed some signs of improvement, completing 20 of 31 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, but those numbers also are misleading since the offense was never a threat to take control of the game. The offensive line failed to generate a consistent running game as the Seahawks managed 34 yards on 12 attempts, which is not good enough.

Although the Seahawks had an opportunity to tie the game late with a two-point conversion, they couldn't convert, extending their losing streak to three games. The Seahawks now find themselves with the second-worst record in the NFC.

San Francisco (6-5) at Seattle (3-8)

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 5 at 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS
Spread: 49ers -3.5

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Three Things to Watch

1. 49ers' offense
The offensive game plan for head coach Kyle Shanahan should be his most stress-free one of the season since it doesn't need to be very complicated. Mitchell can set the tone in the running game by powering his way towards another 100-yard game on Sunday. Jimmy Garoppolo will benefit from an effective running attack, as it will allow him to get the ball out to George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk in the passing game. Samuel is a critical part of this offense, but he'll miss Sunday's game because of a groin injury. That will take away some creative aspects to this attack. But with Seattle struggling (gave up 371 total yards to Washington, 152 of those on the ground), San Francisco probably won't be too impacted by Samuel's absence. In the end, the mission is simple for this offense: come out of the gates playing clean football, and it should lead to a fairly stress-free victory.

2. Seahawks' broken offense
At this point in the season, there is nothing to lose for all parties involved with this offense heading into the final six games. The current offensive approach is beyond broken, as illustrated by this team's mere 10 first downs in the loss to Washington. To add further context to how disastrous the performance was, the Seahawks produced just three more first downs than the NHL's Seattle Kraken scored in goals in their 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres that same night. The NFL team from the Pacific Northwest also has scored a total of three touchdowns in its last 31 possessions, which is mind-blowing to see this offense rival the 1992 team for its ineptitude. DK Metcalf did not even get his first reception until late in the fourth quarter on the final drive. The lack of targets to Metcalf is coaching and quarterback malpractice by Wilson and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

Now, the overarching question is how you fix it moving forward starting on Sunday. First, you must add more tempo and force Wilson to throw simple passes to Tyler Lockett, Metcalf, and the tight ends. The whole deep passing game needs to be put away on ice until Wilson proves he can get his accuracy back. In addition, you must figure how that much of a toll has come from the loss of Trevor Moawad, Wilson's mental coach who passed away earlier this season. It seems to have affected his play, as he is missing reads like on the unsuccessful two-point conversion where he had Metcalf open for what appeared to be an easy completion in the back of the end zone that would have tied the game late.

3. 49ers' defense
Patience will be the name of the game this week since San Francisco doesn't need to get complicated against a struggling Seattle offense. The 49ers need to get heat on Wilson with the defensive front to get their offense behind the sticks. That should happen given the state of the Seahawks' offense and how well Nick Bosa (four sacks over the last three games) has played lately. If San Francisco can get consistent pressure, that will make things easier on the secondary in its efforts to contain Lockett and Metcalf.

Seattle is so desperate for production at running back that the team signed 36-year-old Adrian Peterson to the practice squad. Don't be surprised if he's elevated to the active roster by or on Sunday. So, if you are the 49ers, you might as well dare the Seahawks to try and run the ball. Putting Seattle in an early hole will likely force Waldron to abandon the run once again, which opens up more pass-rushing opportunities for Bosa and Co.

Final Analysis

San Francisco is in control of its destiny, currently holding onto the sixth seed in the NFC bracket. The 49ers definitely can't afford to let this opportunity against a downtrodden Seattle team slip past them. The Seahawks are probably resigned to their fate of missing out on the postseason, but additional losses aren't going to help their draft positioning either (if you're into the tanking idea), since the Jets own their first-round pick next year courtesy of the Jamal Adams trade. Seattle still has plenty of pride and this is a divisional game, a rivalry, so don't expect Pete Carroll's team to simply roll over. But San Francisco will grind out another win because, even without Samuel, the 49ers have too much firepower on offense for this struggling Seahawks defense to shut down for four quarters.

Prediction: 49ers 20, Seahawks 10