Week 7: Seattle Seahawks At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackThis will likely be the most difficult assignment of the season thus far for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. He will face a snarling and athletic defense and Wilson will have to keep his cool, read defenses and not force the ball into coverage. His footwork evading the pass rush and running downfield will be key factors here.The question for Alex Smith will be keeping his focus against the team the 49ers should beat after facing the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. That’s going to be an issue for both Smith and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Smith must be aware of Seattle’s dangerous pass rush if he is going to thrive in this game.
- OffenseThe Seahawks will have a difficult time moving the ball consistently against the 49er defense. Seattle wants to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch, but it is very difficult to run the ball against San Francisco. As a result, the Seahawks are going to have to attack through the air just to loosen up the run defense. Sidney Rice is Seattle’s best receiver and he proved it by catching the game-winning touchdown against the Patriots.The 49ers are using the running game to take pressure off of Smith and give the offense more versatility. In addition to the hard running of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter can punish opposing defenses with his surprising quickness. Look for tight end Vernon Davis to be Smith’s top option on plays over the middle while Mario Manningham should be the team’s big-play receiver.
- DefenseStopping San Francisco is not necessarily an easier assignment than stopping New England, but it is significantly different. Seattle won’t have to contend with the fast-paced no-huddle that they did against the Patriots, but they are going to have to show they can contend with the 49ers’ size and strength. Defensive end Chris Clemons must put pressure on Smith if the Seahawks are going to have a chance at the upset.The 49ers come at you in waves and they do it with strength and athleticism. Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are going to put pressure on the quarterback. Middle linebacker Patrick Willis will make stopping the running game his personal responsibility and fellow linebacker NaVorro Bowman is one of the best tacklers in the league.
- Special TeamsThe Seahawks had a special teams gaffe against the Patriots when punter Jon Ryan couldn’t handle a wet snap and then was a sitting duck for the defense. Normally, the Seahawks get solid special teams play thanks to the return game of Leon Washington.The 49ers are very happy with placekicker David Akers, even though he missed a couple of field goal attempts in the first half against the Giants in Week Six. Andy Lee is normally a solid directional punter who can kick the ball out of trouble.
The Seahawks must come through with a solid effort if they want to compete on even terms with the 49ers. However, there is no legitimate comparison at this point even though the Seahawks play a very nasty brand of defense. Additionally, San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and Seattle coach Pete Carroll don’t like each other. Look for the 49ers to pour it on if they get a little separation from the Seahawks.