49ers-Seahawks: Matchups to watch


49ers-Seahawks: Matchups to watch

SEATTLE -- Two streaks collide Saturday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks in a game of utmost importance for both teams.The 49ers are the first team in NFL history to not allow a rushing touchdown through the first 14 games of a season. Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has scored at least one touchdown in 10 consecutive games. During that time, he has recorded 11 rushing scores.The 49ers have not allowing a 100-yard rusher for the past 36 games -- the second-longest streak since 1970. Baltimore went 39 games (2006-'09) without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Lynch has five 100-yard games in the past seven games.This game, potentially, has playoff implications for both teams. The 49ers would clinch the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs with victories to close the season over Seattle and St. Louis. The second seed gets a first-round playoff bye.
And the Seahawks can still make the playoffs with victories over the 49ers and Arizona to finish the regular season, along with Detroit Lions losses to San Diego and Green Bay.And the way Lynch is playing, he can be counted upon to do his part."He's hungry," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "It's the last stretch of the season and he wants to finish strong, and that's what he's doing."Tale of the tape
49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman (53): 6-0, 242, Penn State, second season
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24): 5-11, 215, Cal, fifth seasonLynch stands as the biggest threat to a rushing defense that has been exceptional against the run all season.And for the 49ers, it all started in the season opener when Lynch gained just 33 yards on 11 carries at Candlestick Park in the 49ers' 33-17 victory. Lynch did not touch the ball in the fourth quarter.But after a slow start, Lynch has turned it on. He has gained 1,011 yards on 245 rushing attempts for a 4.1 average."He's as good as they come in the National Football League," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He's always showed that. He's having a great season. He's one of, in our opinion, the top backs in the league."Said 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers, "Marshawn, he's running the ball like he just got out of jail. He's running the ball hard."The 49ers have managed to keep every running they've faced behind bars this season. But catching Lynch at this stage in the season might be the 49ers' most difficult challenge.Lynch is a powerfully built runner who does not go down easy. He had only 42 yards on 20 rushing attempts against the Chicago Bears last week, but he found the end zone twice.All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, who has not played since sustaining a right hamstring strain early in the Dec. 4 game against the St. Louis Rams, is questionable with a hamstring strain.So Bowman will be counted upon to continue his outstanding season as the 49ers' leading tackler.Unofficially, Bowman ranks eighth in the NFL with 121 tackles on the season. The 49ers coaches, based on their film review, have credited Bowman with 135 tackles.He'll see plenty of Lynch on Saturday, as the Seahawks rely on a ground-first approach that has seen them win five of their past six games."He's a tough runner, an their offense feeds off of him," Bowman said. "We're going to have to bring our big-boy pads and stop the run and do what we've been doing all season." Other matchups worth watching
49ers DE Aldon Smith (99) vs. Seahawks LT Paul McQuistan: Smith is making a surge toward NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he helped his cause Monday night with a 2.5-sack performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the nationally televised game. With 13 sacks on the season, Smith is just 1.5 sacks away from Jevon Kearse's NFL rookie record, which he set in 1999 with the Tennessee Titans. McQuistan saw action in just four games with no starts the previous three seasons before the Seahawks signed him off the scrap heap in January. He has seven starts, including the past two at left tackle after Russell Okung was lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. McQuistan has a difficult chore against the blend of quickness and strength that made Smith the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. Moreover, McQuistan and left guard Robert Gallery will be challenged on passing downs by the Smith-and-Smith combo. Aldon Smith and Justin Smith have been extremely effective at working off each other on stunts to cause problems for the left side of offensive lines.49ers RT Anthony Davis (76) vs. Seahawks LDE Chris Clemons (91): Davis will have his hands full against Clemons, who leads Seattle with 11 sacks. And he'll also have to contend with the deafening crowd noise at, perhaps, the NFL's loudest outdoor stadium. Since 2005, the opposition has averaged a league-high two false-start penalties in Seattle. Davis has done a good job this season on reducing his number of penalties. He has been called for three false starts and no holding penalties. As a rookie, he had seven false starts and two holds. Davis has also played well the past two games against Arizona and Pittsburgh after struggling in head-to-head matchups against Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and St. Louis' Chris Long.

What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017


What they're saying: Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Bay Area sports teams and your favorite players have plenty to be thankful for this year. 

Check out how the teams and players are celebrating Thanksgiving in 2017.

Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season


Shanahan: Garoppolo's best football will come next season

SANTA CLARA – The two quarterbacks who finish this season with the 49ers are probably going to be the same two quarterbacks the organization carry on their 2018 roster.

So every decision coach Kyle Shanahan makes with C.J. Beathard and Jimmy Garoppolo is being made to consider what is best for those two players.

Shanahan made the expected announcement this week that Beathard will make his fifth consecutive start on Sunday when the 49ers face the Seattle Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium.

Beathard is coming off his best game as a pro. He was a major contributor to the 49ers’ first victory of the season, throwing for 288 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for a score in a 31-21 victory over the New York Giants. His performance seemingly did enough to earn him another start.

Meanwhile, Garoppolo pulled up to 49ers headquarters on Oct. 31 with no prior knowledge of Shanahan’s offensive system. Even as a rookie, Beathard has five more months of experience in the 49ers’ offense than Garoppolo, a four-year professional who made just two starts during his time with the New England Patriots.

“We’ve had C.J. in there for some time,” Shanahan said. “He’s getting more used to it, and I’m getting more used to him. The players are getting more used to him around him. It’s been nice to add a few things each week for him.”

General manager John Lynch reiterated this week he considers Garoppolo the 49ers’ quarterback of the future. Garoppolo is not under contract for next season. If the 49ers are unable to work out a multi-year extension, the club would be expected to designate him as their franchise player to retain him for the 2018 season.

Garoppolo is likely to get some playing time in the final six games of the season, but the 49ers have every reason to take their time in order to give him the best chance at success. On the first three days of the bye week, Garoppolo had a chance to go back to the beginning and learn the basics of the scheme in meetings with quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello and Shanahan.

Shanahan’s scheme is complex with unique verbiage and an abundance of adjustments that are required on any given play. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan took a step backward in his first season in Shanahan's scheme. The next year, Ryan was a runaway MVP winner with a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.

It took Ryan a full season of experience with Shanahan to fully grasp his responsibilities, so it is unreasonable to believe Garoppolo would be able to do much more than just function if he gets onto the field for extended action.

“Jimmy gets more and more ready each week,” Shanahan said. “Is Jimmy going to be the best he can? To me, that’s impossible. He just hasn’t been here long enough, and I think he’ll get an opportunity to be better each week.

“I don’t think we’re going to see Jimmy’s best football, to be fair to him, until next year because that’s what guys need. But C.J. did play his best football last week, which definitely, to me, made the decision easier.”