If 49ers fans thought it was tough traveling to New England to play the Patriots in December, it does not get any easier in Week 16 with San Francisco going to Seattle and facing off against their divisional rivals the Seahawks. In anticipation of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday Night Football, Niner Noise connected with Seahawks fan website 12th Man Rising and their Editor Keith Myers to preview the matchup. Enjoy and go 49ers!
Q. Russell Wilson has looked like a completely different player from the first half the season compared to the second half of the season. What is the number one reason for the Wilson’s emergence?
A. He is a very different player, but only statistically. Watching the games, he doing a lot of same things he did back in the early season, except now they’re working for him. I really think he’s just gotten comfortable with the offense. He now knows where all his receivers are going to be. Early in the season he’d have wide open receivers and they wouldn’t get the ball. Now, he’s finding those guys. Add in the confusion that the read-option is creating in opposing defenses, and it seems like there’s just no way to stop Wilson right now.
Q. Seattle’s defense is looking scarier and scarier each week and is one of the best units in the NFL. Which player(s) are responsible for the defense playing so well this season?
A. You know the cliché “it all starts up front?” Reverse that for Seattle. Everything starts with Earl Thomas at the back of the defense. His speed allows the Seahawks to play a single high safety on most plays, which frees up SS Kam Chancellor to line up anywhere on the field where he’s needed. It’s almost like having an extra guy on the field for most plays.
There are plenty of other playmakers on this defense; Richard Sherman is probably the league’s best corner this season with Revis out, Bobby Wagner will get defensive rookie of the year consideration, Chris Clemons, KJ Wright, Brandon Mebane… but everything this defense does is keyed by the speed of Earl Thomas on the back line.
Q. What will the Seahawks need to do on offense and defense in order to pull off a win and punch their ticket to the playoffs?
A. On offense the Seahawks really need to establish the read-option. If they can do that, it’ll neutralize really neutralize any advantage 49ers have with their defensive front 7. The read-option has a way of making players think too much, instead of just reacting and playing like they normally do. If the Seahawks can do that, they’ll be able to move the football well enough to win this game.
On defense, it comes down to being disciplined. That’s what they didn’t so in the first matchup. Guys were getting out of position and leaving their assignments, and the 49ers made them pay for it. When everyone simply does their own job, and trusts their teammates to do theirs as well, this defense can be formidable.
Q. While the feat of scoring over 100 points in two games is impressive, the real reason why Seattle posted 50-plus points in those games is because they were playing really weak teams in the Cardinals and Bills, right?
A. Yes and no. Neither of those teams is particularly good, but the Seahawks could have scored 70 in each of those games if they wanted to. Lynch only had 21 carries combined (for well over 200 yards). Wilson also only played 3 halves of football total in those 2 games. And let’s not forget that, while their offense is as bad as they come, the Arizona defense is still pretty stout. Even after giving up 58 to the Seahawks, they’re still 11th in the NFL in points given up.
But then again, it is still the Cardinals and Bills, right? We’ll see how far this offense has really come this Sunday. The Seahawks won’t put up 50 on the Niners, but if they can put up 30+ points against THAT defense, than I think it will be pretty safe to say that this offense has become one of the best in the league.
Q. What is your prediction for the game?
A. No one comes into Seattle and wins right now. The 12th Man is such a huge advantage. As long as Richard Sherman plays, and the Seahawks aren’t stuck with their 5th and 6th string CBs out there all game, I think the Seahawks win in a close game. Seattle 27 – 23 San Francisco
Check out Niner Noise’s answers after the jump: