In what is turning out to be possibly the best current rivalry in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers hope to erase their memories from last year of when they visited CenturyLink Field by playing like they did in the opening week, while the Seattle Seahawks continue to rely on their physical defense to carry a stuttering offense to a perfect two-week start.
It ended in a 42-13 beatdown in favor of the Seahawks when the two teams last met on December 23; Colin Kaepernick wasn’t nearly as effective as he was last week against the Packers (27 of 39 passes for a career-high 412 yards with three touchdowns), while Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes. Wilson did pretty well against the Panthers after a shaky start, finishing with 320 yards and a touchdown pass, completing 75.8% of his passes.
It’s hard to find the one big difference between the two teams who love the read-option, and carry themselves with the same kind of swagger and pride in their physical defense and very strong running game. Both teams struggled to move the chains on the ground last week, but Marshawn Lynch was probably facing the better defense in Carolina; he’s been red hot against the 49ers recently, with 321 yards on 66 attempts and three touchdowns over the last three meetings between the team.
The excellent play of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis last week wasn’t surprising. The two more than made up for the missing Michael Crabtree with a combined 306 yards and three touchdown receptions. The Seahawks have less impressive names waiting to catch passes from Wilson, but Jermaine Kearse is more than just a pleasant surprise, while Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate have a very good connection with Wilson.
The Seahawks are hoping to see Cliff Avril in as many snaps as possible after missing last week; the main reason he and other defensive ends were brought was for this encounter alone, and to provide more pressure on Colin Kaepernick by using as many pass rushers as possible.
Prediction – The 49ers enjoyed a bit of luck and bad officiating to come up with the win against the Packers last week; that won’t be on their side in the deafening noise in Seattle, who should do well enough defensively to slow down Kaepernick, and win the first game between the two teams.