Week 3 at Seattle Seahawks
Sunday, September 25 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Things just go from bad to worse for the 49ers as they travel from taking on the reigning NFC champs to the Pacific Northwest to face off against the heated rival Seattle Seahawks in a venue where the Niners haven’t won since… well, it’s been a long time. December of 2011, to be exact.
Seattle has plenty of its own questions this season and, most notably, its offensive line is a primary worry.
It’s a unit which lost offensive linemen J.R. Sweezy and Russell Okung to free agency. And the Seahawks also gave up a whopping 46 sacks last year.
Still, the Seahawks remain one of the premier franchises in the NFL, even if there may be cracks showing. The defense still ranked No. 1 in the league, with just 277 points allowed, and Seattle’s offense — led by quarterback Russell Wilson, of course — actually made it to No. 4 overall.
Perhaps we see a more-rounded Seahawks team this year instead of one known just for its defense.
Either way, this is going to be a tough bout.
Why the 49ers Win
Again, it’s hard to predict a San Francisco victory here. If it does happen, the Niners pass rush will have to be more than just effective. Linebacker Aaron Lynch is still out on suspension at this point, but look for second-year linebacker Eli Harold to get some chances.
Stopping running back Thomas Rawls and tight end Jimmy Graham will also have to be critical factors for any sort of 49ers success.
But the real battle will take place on the flip side.
Defensive end Michael Bennett remains a pass-rushing factor, so the 49ers O-line will be tested. And overall, this may be a scenario in which head coach Chip Kelly chooses to wear the Seahawks defense down instead of trying to beat it in an uptempo format.
If the 49ers do win, it will be by the slimmest of margins.
Why the 49ers Lose
Recent history. Even the best Niners teams of recent years weren’t exactly able to establish any sort of prowess at CenturyLink Field.
Some may argue the Seahawks could be on the decline after a lengthy run towards the top of the NFL’s elite, but Seattle still remains a superior team to San Francisco at this point in time.
The lack of a true pass rush will hurt the 49ers, and Wilson’s ability to extend plays will expose a young Niners secondary sooner rather than later. Seattle may not generate the same sack totals as it was accustomed to a year ago, but the lack of experience at wide receiver for the 49ers will show against a tested Seahawks secondary.
Knowing this, the 49ers running game will probably be hitting a wall.
Next: Week 4 vs. Dallas Cowboys