The 49ers neutralized Los Angeles Rams standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald in Week 6, limiting him to two total tackles and one quarterback hit.
49ers tight end George Kittle believes that Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner is similar to Donald in how he impacts a game. As such, might San Francisco be taking a similar approach with the All-Pro linebacker, planning to strategically take him out of the game?
“Any defense that has Bobby Wagner in the middle is a very good defense in my opinion,” Kittle said Thursday. “If you don’t account for Bobby Wagner, he’s going to ruin your day. He’s very similar to Aaron Donald in that mindset.”
49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was successful in putting together a game plan that essentially made Donald a non-factor. While Wagner obviously plays a different position than the Rams' pass rusher, Shanahan could try manipulating his offensive scheme once again, pinpointing a way to limit Wagner’s impact.
Kittle might be the key. As one of the best run blockers in the league, preventing Wagner from getting to the ball carrier could be Kittle’s most important job. If anyone has the ability to stop Wagner, it’s the 49ers' star player.
The All-Pro tight end shared how much respect he has for the Seahawks' linebacker and how excited he is to face off with Wagner again. As is typically the case, Kittle is hyped up for the challenge.
"He’s the guy that prevents the big plays from happening,” Kittle said. “He’s the guy who makes it a 6-yard gain instead of a 20-yard gain or a house call. Anytime you have to play in Seattle and you have to play against Bobby Wagner, it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
Kittle also believes that Seattle’s dismal numbers on defense are no indication of what he will see at Century Link on Sunday.
“I know maybe their stats, they’re giving up more points or yards or whatever, but teams are just playing them well,” Kittle said. “We’re going to go into that game totally expecting them to be at their absolute best.”
The Seahawks' best facing the 49ers' best will be an entertaining battle to watch, especially considering Kittle's enthusiasm for his matchup with Wagner.