A division that should have been clinched for the San Francisco 49res became a lot more complicated after an overtime loss in week 13, and because of the Seattle Seahawks looking better and better on offense as the season went on, enjoying the emergence of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.
A former College Football coach and a guy just out of College. Why not play and run the option quite often? The Seahawks have run option players on 25% of their rushing plays over the last two weeks, scoring over 50 points in both of them, the first team to score more than 100 points in that span of time in 62 years. They averaged over 5.2 yards per rush before first contact, twice the rate the team averaged in the first 11 games played.
Marshawn Lynch has been especially unstoppable, running for 241 yards on 21 carries over the last couple of weeks, averaging 11.5 yards per carry. He has 1379 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, scoring five over the last three weeks.
While Lynch’s success in the running game hasn’t been that surprising, Russell Wilson becoming the first quarterback instead of Matt Flynn just before the season began was. Since then, he’s become the first rookie QB to win his first six home games since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. At home, Wilson has thrown only one interception to 12 touchdowns and has a passer rating of 118.4. As the Seahawks learn to use him better and better, Wilson has also become a much more dangerous runner, going for 71 yards against the Chicago Bears three weeks ago and 92 against the poor Bills last week.
But will all of the Seahawks’ impressive numbers, there’s something about the 49ers that brings out the worst of them. Their fantastic offensive line seems to be torn apart and shaken up when they face Aldon Smith and his crew. While Wilson has completed at least 50 percent of his attempts against four or fewer pass rushers in every game he’s played, in the previous loss to the 49ers he went 6-15 (40%) against such rushes in the game for 85 yards. He is second best in the NFL this season when throwing for over 20 yards, but was 0-5 with an interception throwing to that distance against the 49ers.
Predictions – Two teams who love to run the ball, and have two quarterbacks who love to take off. The Seahawks have the size and speed to handle Vernon Davis and the 49ers’ running game, but Colin Kaepernick is the real deal, and he’ll show it in Seattle.