How SF 49ers contain Seahawks WR D.K. Metcalf

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) against San Francisco 49ers defensive back Emmanuel Moseley (41) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf (14) against San Francisco 49ers defensive back Emmanuel Moseley (41) Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Slowing down D.K. Metcalf will be one of the SF 49ers’ primary objectives when they face the Seahawks in Week 8, and here’s how it can be done.

The SF 49ers defense has a number of problems on its hands when they travel north to take on the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks in a crucial Week 8 bout that’ll have massive implications for the toughest division in football, the NFC West.

While the Seahawks have plenty of their own defensive problems, quarterback Russell Wilson and Co. are helming an offense ranked No. 1 in points scored (203) and yardage gained (2,551). Wilson, deservedly so, is getting the vast majority of the credit.

But perhaps the biggest problem for the Niners is wide receiver D.K. Metcalf.

Metcalf, the second-year pro out of Ole Miss whom everyone passed on in Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft, is a mismatch nightmare. At 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds, his blazing-fast 4.33 40-yard time at that year’s NFL Scouting Combine only provided a glimpse of just how speedy the big-bodied target can be.

Him running down Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker after Baker’s Week 7 interception of Wilson is yet only another example of why defensive backs should be concerned with Metcalf’s straight-line speed:

That play saved six, potentially seven points for Seattle.

Ultimately, Arizona got the overtime win. But that doesn’t take away Metcalf’s impressive season over six games in which he’s recorded 24 receptions for 519 yards, five touchdowns and a league-best 21.6 yards per reception.

So that prompts the question: How do the SF 49ers prevent him from doing too much damage to them in Week 8?

SF 49ers defensive game plan against Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf

The Metcalf-Wilson threat is one the Niners defense, which is ranked third best against the pass this year, can only hope to slow down. Not eliminate altogether.

There might be an effective way to do this, although it’ll come at the expense of other weapons Seattle has on offense.

Metcalf’s size alone already makes him a mismatch against San Francisco’s shorter boundary cornerbacks. Emmanuel Moseley is only 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds, while fellow corner Jason Verrett is 5-foot-10 and 188 pounds. Based on those matchups alone, Metcalf can either choose to go over the top of either corner or use his size to outmuscle them.

Single coverage on Metcalf is eliminated as a solution, so the need to double him with over-the-top safety help is a must.

The player in question? Defensive back Tarvarius Moore.

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Moore is the closest equivocal player to cover Metcalf in tandem with either Moseley or Verrett, who’d be playing underneath. One also shouldn’t overlook Moore’s own 4.32 40-yard time at his 2018 pro day, which puts him in the same category as Metcalf, speed-wise.

Yet Moore might not have the coverage teeth to stay with Metcalf one on one, rather serving as a viable over-the-top help, while one of the SF 49ers’ other two boundary corners stays underneath.

Of course, this opens up problems elsewhere, as Wilson still has a larger rapport with fellow Seahawks wideout Tyler Lockett, who is still Seattle’s leader in receptions (45), receiving yards (542) and touchdowns (seven). But San Francisco might afford to use a three-safety set anyway, considering the Seahawks rushing attack is already banged up with running backs Chris Carson (foot), Carlos Hyde (hamstring) and Travis Homer (knee) all listed on Seattle’s injury report.

This could afford the Niners a small luxury defending more against the pass with coverage defenders instead of worrying too much about the run.

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Although Metcalf still remains a potent force and mismatch nightmare for San Francisco in Week 8.