The 49ers may be surging, while the Seahawks are struggling, but there are still key matchups head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. must win in Week 13.
Records may as well go out the window when one is talking about the 6-5 San Francisco 49ers and the surprisingly scuffling 3-8 Seattle Seahawks, who are set to do battle in the second installment of their 2021 NFC West rivalry.
The Hawks, of course, won that first game back in Week 4 at a time when they were surging and the Niners were in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
Now, however, the tables have turned. A lot.
San Francisco, winners of three games in a row and currently sitting in the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture, can put the final dagger in Seattle’s dwindling playoff hopes. At the same time, though, there are few remaining games on the Seahawks’ calendar that are worth “getting up for,” and this Week 13 bout is certainly one of them.
If the 49ers want to continue their win streak and perpetuate the Hawks’ own recent misery, they’ll have to come out on top of these five specific matchups.
No. 5: 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell vs. Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner
The Hawks defense might be a shell of its former self, but perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner remains a force and one of the NFL’s best defenders, even if he’s on the wrong side of 30 years old.
Over the last three weeks, the Niners have used a consistent rushing attack to chew up the clock, and they’ve found success on the ground in the likes of rookie running back Elijah Mitchell, who set a new franchise record with four 100-yard rushing games in his first season as a pro.
Wagner will look to stop Mitchell and his impressive 4.8 yards per carry.
Seattle is surprisingly allowing just 3.9 yards per rush this season, fourth best in the league, and Wagner’s presence is a major reason why.
It’s likely Mitchell won’t have a lot of success early against Wagner and Co., but that doesn’t mean San Francisco should abandon the run.
Mitchell’s average yards per carry may be low in Week 13, but the entire volume needs to be high enough to ensure his team is maintaining possession.