49ers vs Seahawks: Top 3 things to watch
The Pacific Northwest has not been kind to the 49ers, who have lost six consecutive times at the Seattle Seahawks. And other than their defeat in the NFC Championship Game in January 2014, the games have not been particularly close, either.
The 49ers and Seahawks opened the season last week with losses. The 49ers looked similar to Chip Kelly’s two-win team of a year ago in Kyle Shanahan’s debut as head coach against the Carolina Panthers. The Seahawks also failed to score a touchdown in their 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers.
How it's done
The 49ers’ defense is based on the system the Seahawks have run under Pete Carroll. Robert Saleh learned it as part of the Seahawks staff on their Super Bowl-winning team.
One of the keys is the free safety position – also known as “The Eraser.” The Seahakws have Earl Thomas, one of the best at what he does. The 49ers thought they had their perfect man, Jimmie Ward. But Ward has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. Jaquiski Tartt is likely to get his second start playing the deep middle of the field – an area Wilson can be expected to challenge.
The 49ers are giving newly acquired Laken Tomlinson an opportunity to wrestle the starting job at left guard away from veteran Zane Beadles. There is no more difficult task in the NFL than playing offensive line in Seattle. The Seahawks’ defensive line, which already featured Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, got a boost in August with the addition of Sheldon Richardson.
The 49ers have to be stubborn with Carlos Hyde and the run game in order to slow down the Seahawks’ pass rushers and enable quarterback Brian Hoyer enough time to use play-action to get the ball down the field.
Getting after Wilson
The 49ers have invested in defensive linemen with their top selections of the past three drafts. But the pass rush did not do much against Carolina’s Cam Newton in Week 1. The 49ers should have a great opportunity to pressure Russell Wilson against Seattle’s iffy offensive line.
Aaron Lynch was inactive for Week 1 because the 49ers wanted to carry another defensive tackle on their active 46-man roster. But Lynch is the 49ers’ best pass rusher. He should be active on Sunday and might have the best chance to affect Wilson’s ability to get the ball down the field.