With the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football, Niner Noise goes behind enemy lines to chat things up with 12th Man Rising of the FanSided network.
It’s been a while since there was a true rivalry between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. And it’s sad to say, at least in recent years, the Seahawks have had the better hand, ultimately putting to rest the once-heated NFC West rivalry between these two squads that existed earlier this decade.
But one could argue 2019 is changing all that.
At 8-0, the still-undefeated Niners have the inside path to claim the division title for the first time since 2012. At 7-2, Seattle is 1.5 games behind San Francisco in the standings and two games behind in the loss column.
So it’s pretty easy to understand why these two teams’ Week 10 Monday Night Football bout at Levi’s Stadium is crucial to both squads.
As we often do, Niner Noise linked up with our FanSided partner site, 12th Man Rising, which talks all things Seahawks, breaking down this prime-time bout with site expert Lee Vowell.
Let’s see what Vowell had to say about Seattle and this Week 10 bout, in particular.
NN: Most 49ers fans are starting to embrace just how elite Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is, finally. But this year is seeing him play on an entirely new level. What do you think has changed, and why is Wilson looking like the runaway MVP candidate for 2019?
"12MR: This is a great question and difficult to answer. Wilson does have a 22-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio so far in 2019 (hopefully that interception number doesn’t change much, if at all, on Monday) and is running a bit less the last few weeks. He seems to be more trusting of his offensive line and maybe that is the biggest thing. Is his line the best in football? No. But they are better, right tackle Germain Ifedi especially.Wilson also has the best receiver he has played with in his career Tyler Lockett playing well, too. Plus, rookie D.K. Metcalf is beginning to emerge. [Running back] Chris Carson helps relieve some of the pressure on Wilson to win games on his own, too.Basically my long-winded answer to your question is, there are a lot of reasons Wilson is playing so well. The problem for Seattle is that he has to continue doing so or the Seahawks don’t win games."
NN: While most of the focus has been on Wilson, running back Chris Carson is a player Niners fans need to watch, especially considering San Francisco’s run defense has been somewhat vulnerable. How would you imagine the Seahawks use Carson in Week 10, and what are the parts of his game you think the 49ers could have trouble with?
"12MR: Carson isn’t going to outrace anyone, but he is going to pound out the yards. He is quick, but not speedy fast. Carson is good because, while he is a bigger back who likes contact like Marshawn Lynch was, he also can spin away from would-be tacklers. In a way, Carson is the perfect compliment to Wilson’s more finesse style of play.Plus, Carson can catch passes out of the backfield which puts him in the open field where he is really dangerous.The only issue Carson has had so far is that he has fumbled a few times. The 49ers know this, too, so hopefully they don’t find a way to knock a few balls out of Carson’s hands."
NN: The Niners have an excellent pass defense, while the Seahawks have an excellent quarterback. Taking the opposite perspective, if you were the Niners, how would you go about containing Wilson?
"12MR: I wouldn’t change much. Teams can get interior pass rush against the Seahawks and Wilson feels pressure early, which makes him leave the pocket sometimes too soon, but sometimes stays in too long. The 49ers are going to get sacks against Wilson. A lot of the yards Wilson does get are up the middle against teams spread out.If the 49ers can simply maintain technique in the middle of the line, they will be fine."
NN: Wilson’s favorite target has been wide receiver Tyler Lockett, and the numbers between Locket and Wilson are astounding. His bout with 49ers nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams will be fun to watch, but what are the reasons you think Lockett has the edge here?
"12MR: Lockett’s productivity comes from two things: One, he is crazy quick, and when he beats you he can outrun you. But secondly, and maybe most importantly, Lockett is a great route runner who works on his craft a ton. At this point, Lockett knows how to get open.The biggest challenge for the 49ers is allowing Lockett to get a few passes underneath and tackle him since he isn’t big. If Lockett gets outside and cuts a seam across the middle of the field, this is when bad things happen to defenses."
NN: San Francisco fans know the bigger names like Wilson, Lockett, wide receiver D.K Metcalf. But who are some other Seattle offensive players you think could be key X-factors for Monday’s contest?
"12MR: The thing with the Seahawks is the players most national fans know the most are the ones who win games for Seattle. Wilson is great and so is Lockett. Carson is one of the better backs in the league. Metcalf is beginning to be a very productive player. Those are the guys that are going to beat a team. It was [tight end] Will Dissly, too, until his injury. [Wide receiver] Josh Gordon might play his first game with Seattle, but who knows what you are going to get.Seattle doesn’t have a lot of secondary players who make plays, it is the main players. The surprise, even to Seahawks fans, is when someone like [tight end] Jacob Hollister catches touchdown passes like he did last week.That’s a terrible answer for you, but it is a truthful one."
NN: The 49ers win if they do what? And the Seahawks win if they do what?
"12MR: First, I should say I expect the 49ers to win. I think at home they matchup well against Seattle, especially with San Francisco’s front seven. If the 49ers can simply repeat what they have done through the first part of the season with pass rush and running the ball offensively, they will win. If the Seahawks win it is simply because Wilson has done something Wilson-ish, and the defense has found a way to contain the 49ers running game.Wilson might be great again, but the defense still has its issues."
There are those who have been doubting San Francisco’s hot start all season, citing the idea the Niners “haven’t played anyone yet.”
Perhaps. But one thing is certain: The 49ers haven’t played a quarterback like Wilson yet, and he’s looking to be the clear front runner in the MVP race.
If he has an MVP-caliber performance in Santa Clara on Monday Night Football, it could be more than just problematic.
Either way, Niner Noise wants to thank our friends over at 12th Man Rising. And if you want some excellent insight from across enemy lines, be sure to follow our sister FanSided site — @12thMan_Rising — and give Lee Vowell a follow, too — @LeeVowell.
The Niners and Hawks kick off on Monday, Nov. 11 at 8:15 p.m. ET from Levi’s Stadium.