The Seahawks (5-1) are set to host the 49ers (4-3) on Sunday in Week 8 of the NFL regular season. A win would keep Seattle in first place in the NFC West while a loss would give the top spot to Arizona. This matchup is crucial for the Seahawks, who desperately need to avoid an 0-2 start in the division.
Here are the five burning questions of the week that serve as the keys to a Seattle win.
1. Who will step up for the pass rush?
It goes without saying that the Seahawks can’t go another game without a quarterback hit. Jimmy Garoppolo will carve them up on Sunday if he’s allowed to sit in a clean pocket. The good news is that Seattle should be able to take a more aggressive approach given Garoppolo’s limitations in the scramble drill and off-script stuff. Benson Mayowa (ankle) is questionable to play, but he should be good to go. This is a huge game for him, Jarran Reed and everyone else on Seattle’s defensive line.
The Seahawks will likely be more liberal sending pressure at Garoppolo as well, especially if…
2. Will Jamal Adams, other injured Seahawks play?
…Adams returns. Seattle’s star safety practiced in a limited capacity on Friday, marking his first on-field participation since suffering his groin strain in Week 3. Adams is listed as questionable to play, and will be a game-time decision. Carroll said there’s concern playing Adams despite having just one practice under his belt, but the Seahawks are desperate to get him back on the field. There is the rub. Seattle will continue to be cautious with Adams, but my gut says he plays on Sunday.
Chris Carson (foot), Carlos Hyde (hamstring) and Travis Homer (knee) will all be game-time decisions. Carson and Homer are questionable while Hyde is doubtful. Homer was the only one to practice at all during the week. We could see more of DeeJay Dallas than we’ve seen to this point.
How Seattle handles being without Shaquill Griffin (hamstring/concussion) and likely Ugo Amadi (hamstring) will also be interesting. Expect to see more of Damarious Randall and potentially Linden Stephens.
3. Can Seattle limit the 49ers yards after the catch?
San Francisco’s offense doesn’t have much in the way of a vertical passing game. Everything is predicated on timing, misdirection and getting playmakers in space. Without Deebo Samuel, it’ll be the George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk show. Both of those players are notorious for chewing up yards after the catch. Sure tackling will be a key for the Seahawks defense. Otherwise, short passes, screens and quick slants could end up as explosives. It’s going to be an important game for Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Jordyn Brooks.
4. How will Damon Harrison fare in his Seahawks debut?
Pete Carroll explained that “Snacks” had his best week of practice since joining the Seahawks, an indication that he could make his debut in Seattle on Sunday. Harrison remains on the practice squad, which means he could be flexed up just for gameday. However, with two open roster spots, Seattle could also outright promote him to the active roster. The Seahawks defense could use all of the reinforcements they can get, especially along the defensive line. Harrison’s debut will be a highly-anticipated one.
5. Will Sunday be another heart attack-inducing game for Seahawks fans?
In short, prepare for more anxiety on Sunday afternoon. Between the two matchups between these teams last year and the Seahawks first six games of 2020, this one should go down to the wire and be another instant classic.