Two NFC West Rivals will battle it out on Sunday at Levi's Stadium as the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks are looking to continue their four-game winning streak against the 49ers, with San Francisco's last win in the series back coming on Dec. 29, 2019, in Seattle.
"Monday Night Football" lived up to its expectations and then some as Seattle (1-0) held off Denver 17-16 to save the NFC West from going winless in Week 1. This game has a little of everything to keep a viewer engaged. The 12s responded to the occasion beautifully as they got after Russell Wilson by embodying the "Always Compete" mentality that head coach Pete Carroll preaches daily. Geno Smith completed 23 of 28 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. The defense came up with a couple of goal-line stands by forcing multiple fumbles to give the Seahawks a chance to win the game. Pass rush-wise, they just enough to make Wilson uncomfortable by sacking him twice, and the encouraging thing is that should improve as the season progresses. However, Jamal Adams was lost for the season with a torn quadriceps tendon, creating a challenge for this defense to figure out moving forward.
San Francisco (0-1) started the Trey Lance era with a very sloppy, undisciplined 19-10 loss on the road against Chicago last Sunday in terrible weather conditions. The 49ers committed 12 penalties for 99 yards, including three unnecessary roughness penalties that extended drives for the Bears. Lance was uneven throughout the game and completed 13 of 28 passes for 164 yards and an interception. Turnovers were another issue, as they lost that battle to Chicago, 2-1. This game was a great example of how the stat sheet can be misleading regarding total yards. San Francisco outgained Chicago 331-204 but converted just one red zone opportunity in three attempts.
Seattle (1-0) at San Francisco (0-1)
Three Things to Watch
1. How will the 49ers' offense respond to the loss in Chicago?
People expected that Lance would go through some growing pains in his first season as the full-time starter at quarterback. But 49ers fans and the organization didn't expect the offense to struggle at finishing drives against an inferior opponent like Chicago. Sure, the rain did not help, but still, this offense needs to score more than 10 points with the personnel on that side of the football. One quick way to jumpstart the offense would be to give Lance easy throws to Deebo Samuel out in space and let him go to work. Attacking seams in the Seahawks defense using George Kittle, if he is healthy enough to play, should also help Lance settle in and get the offense rolling. They can't afford the offensive line to have an off day and allow the Seahawks' pass rush to cause havoc on Lance. On the flip side, If Seattle gets excellent performances from Uchenna Nwosu (7 tackles, sack, forced fumble, QB hit, pass defense), who was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Denver, and others, they will be in a great position to win.
2. Seahawks defense vs. Trey Lance
Seattle's defense had a bend-but-don't-break mentality when they took Wilson's best shot as he threw for 342 yards. They also responded nicely against the run in the second half by holding Denver under four yards per attempt after allowing around 7.5 in the first half. Cleaning up missed tackles, using their speed effectively, and not overrunning plays need to be corrected moving forward. The keys to victory this week are to continue to create turnovers, keep Lance in the pocket by forcing him to pass, and take advantage of the 49ers' offensive injury situation. If they can get that done, it will force head coach Kyle Shanahan not to play ultra-conservative and take more chances than he would like to this week.
3. Can the Seahawks' offense hold up against the 49ers' defense?
The Seahawks don't have much margin for error this week when they travel into a typically hostile environment in Santa Clara. Smith must play with an extra level of decisiveness as he did in the first half of the Denver game because the intensity will increase this week. Nick Bosa, Fred Warner, and Co. will bring plenty of heat off the edges. This pressure will test the rookie tackles Charles Cross (four pressures and two sacks allowed) and Abraham Lucas (two pressures allowed), who had up-and-down moments during their first game but have the feel of players who will improve. They also want to run the ball better with Rashaad Penny and a healthy Kenneth Walker III. If Penny and Walker can get the running game going, it will help Smith in the passing game to spread the ball around like he did last Monday night, as he had a 153.3 passer rating on throws of 10-plus yards in the game.
These two teams have historically played highly competitive games, as six of the last seven games have been decided by one score. The Seahawks are also 17-4 in their previous 21 games against the 49ers. They have not been blown out in San Francisco since a 33-17 loss on Sept. 11, 2011. Thus, regardless of the personnel at quarterback, the game will most likely be a competitive game for both teams. It will be tough for Seattle coming off of a short week and going up against a 49ers squad that should play with more discipline and fire on Sunday. However, if Kittle does not play, it feels like it will limit San Francisco enough to lose this week, with Lance still a work in progress as a young quarterback. The Seahawks will do just enough on offense to survive and advance to 2-0 in the young season.
Prediction: Seahawks 20, 49ers 16
– Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Contributor Network.
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