After the Seattle Seahawks belted the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago, Niner Noise pairs up with 12th Man Rising to preview the grudge match in Week 15 at Levi’s Stadium.
The San Francisco 49ers hopefully are able to put the ugly 43-16 Week 13 drubbing by the Seattle Seahawks behind them, as they’ll have a chance to get some revenge against their NFC West rivals Sunday in Week 15’s matchup at Levi’s Stadium.
Niner Noise went behind enemy lines ahead of that previous game with our FanSided friends over at 12th Man Rising, taking a look at both the Hawks and Niners’ respective situations entering the contest. And we did so again for this upcoming bout, sitting down with 12th Man Rising site expert Lee Vowell to discuss what’s on the table for both squads in Week 15.
The Seahawks are riding a four-game win streak. A win on Sunday would secure head coach Pete Carroll’s squad a playoff berth, as Seattle now finds itself 8-5 and boasting a relatively easy schedule to close out the regular season.
San Francisco, meanwhile, just threw a proverbial “monkey wrench” a week ago, spoiling the Denver Broncos’ playoff hopes with a 20-14 upset in Week 14. At 3-10, the 49ers have nothing to lose but pride and a chance to continue playing the spoiler role during this divisional bout.
Oh, and ending a losing streak to the Seahawks that dates back to their last win over Seattle back in 2013.
NN: Looking at Seattle’s remaining schedule, perhaps only one game — Week 16 versus the Kansas City Chiefs — seems to be a truly tough matchup. If 10-6 winds up being enough to get the Seahawks in the playoffs, which seeded teams do you think they’d match up against well?
"LV: The great thing for the Seahawks is that 9-7 will get them in the playoffs. Due to head-to-head advantages and other teams’ conference records, Seattle gets in the playoffs with one more win. And that is if that win comes in week 15 or week 17. Hopefully, Seattle gets a win on Sunday versus the 49ers and ends any drama.Seattle has already played against three of the top four seeds in the NFC. They are 1-3 in those games so I am not sure playing any of them are truly great matchups for the Seahawks. And playing the Saints in New Orleans is always tough. That said, the way Seattle is currently playing I think they can stay in the game against anyone. I do think they may have a slightly better chance against the Saints than the Rams or Bears as Dallas showed a way to beat New Orleans. The way Dallas beat the Saints is a lot like the same way Seattle could – running the ball and solid defense."
NN: Cornerback Richard Sherman‘s return to Seattle was generally well received, from what I saw and heard. Although EDGE Frank Clark recently noted Sherman’s era with the Seahawks is “over.” In 10 years, or so, how do you think Sherman will be remembered by the 12s?
"LV: I think Sherman will be remembered fondly. Sherman isn’t a bad guy, he just likes to talk a lot. He said some unpleasant things about the franchise on his way out of Seattle and appears to have intentionally stayed in the same division as the Seahawks when he signed with the 49ers. But Sherman helped the Seahawks win a Super Bowl and win a lot of games. 12s will remember that.Sherman will be in Seattle’s Ring of Honor one day. But currently, Clark is right. Sherman’s era is done. It should be. Seattle has a lot of young talent on defense and this is their era now."
NN: Who has been the best Seahawks rookie standout this season and why?
"LV: Seattle has had several rookies contribute to wins this year. Tight end Will Dissly was very good early but got injured in week four and will miss the rest of the season. First-round pick Rashaad Penny has been getting better and better, but he is not yet ready to start in the NFL.Honestly, the best rookie the Seahawks have had this season is the guy they moved up in the draft to choose, punter Michael Dickson. Dickson currently leads the league in net yards-per-punt and consistently flips field position. So, yeah…the punter is the best Seattle rookie. And it isn’t even close."
NN: Rank Seattle’s top four needs in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft.
"LV: This is a tough question. Seattle needs to get better in a lot of areas but also has a lot of good young talent. General manager John Schneider has done a solid job the last two drafts with re-tooling the roster.Seattle, though, has to get better at edge rusher. Having Frank Clark (and Clark will have to be re-signed or franchised this offseason) be the only end who can consistently get to the quarterback should not be a long-term approach.Otherwise, Seattle should be drafting for depth in hopes that depth become solid starters in few seasons. Some positions that need help are the offensive line, defensive line interior and linebacker."
NN: The Seahawks handled the 49ers in Week 13. What new challenges do you see arising during this contest, and how will Seattle go about pulling off a road win in Santa Clara on Sunday?
"LV: The biggest challenge is that the 49ers seem to have a quality passing game. Nick Mullens, while most of it was late, did throw for 400 yards against Seattle. He will have confidence going into week 15 because of what he did in Week 13 but also against the Broncos.San Francisco was so banged up in Week 13 they had little chance on the road. But they surely must be a little healthier this week. So that is also a concern that Seattle will simply be playing a better 49ers team.The Seahawks need to get scores early so that the 49ers don’t build confidence. If Seattle can get a lead about 17-3 or better at half, they should be able to coast to a win. If it is tight at the end, the 49ers could pull off the upset. Seattle should get the passing game involved early and set up the run with the pass instead of how they normally do it. That should get them the win."
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Despite the one-sided loss, the Niners did manage a number of quality performances. As Vowell pointed out, Mullens managed to toss for 400-plus yards the last time these teams met, despite many of those yards coming after the game was largely decided. And wide receiver Dante Pettis had over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Interestingly enough, Seattle is banged up for this contest. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin (hip) is questionable, as is Clark (elbow). Safety Bradley McDougald (knee) is also questionable, while linebacker Mychal Kendricks recently landed on injured reserve with a broken leg.
Maybe this plays into San Francisco’s favor, although head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. can’t overlook how quickly things got out of hand two weeks ago.
At any rate, we always want to thank our friends at 12th Man Rising for giving us an opposite-side-of-the-field perspective for this contest and beyond. Be sure to follow Lee Vowell on Twitter — @LeeVowell — and 12th Man Rising — @12thMan_Rising.
The 49ers and Seahawks kick off on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:05 p.m. from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.