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Breaking Down Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Previewing of the San Francisco 49ers' Week 14 Match-Up where they will host the reeling Seattle Seahawks.
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Week 14 of the NFL is here, and it will feature a major divisional match-up, as the Seattle Seahawks will travel to Santa Clara to take on the San Francisco 49ers. While it has been a wild and eventful season, there have been two storylines that have dominated the NFL.

The first is the wild and obnoxious amount of quarterbacks going down due to injury and the sheer amount of backup quarterbacks playing in games right now. The second is the rise of a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut in the NFL. When the San Francisco 49ers are fully healthy and firing on all cylinders, defensive coordinators of opposing teams are better off sacrificing hearts to Kali-Ma because not even the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles could contain them.

One of the biggest stories in the NFL last year was the emergence of Mr. Irrelevent, Brock Purdy. The questions in the off-season were if Purdy could come off a major injury and continue to build off his great rookie season. It’s safe to say that Purdy has not only built on his play last season but has even cemented himself as San Francisco’s long-term starter going into the future and one of the league’s best young quarterbacks. Purdy is currently the favorite to take home the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award, which is just incredible and completely unexpected.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the Seattle Seahawks enter Sunday’s game in desperation mode. They play the 49ers this week and then the Philadelphia Eagles next week on Monday Night Football. Currently in the NFC Playoff picture, Seattle would be out of the playoffs if they began today, which would be a disastrous result for the Seahawks. With the Green Bay Packers surging and the Minnesota Vikings still threatening, Seattle must win as many games as possible because the Packers do have a pretty easy schedule, compared to Seattle’s very tough one.

In addition to making the playoffs, the final few games of this season might go a long way in determining quarterback Geno Smith’s future in the Emerald City. In a draft full of quarterbacks, including Washington’s Michael Penix Jr, general manager John Schneider may look to move off the expensive veteran quarterback. Smith put on a show vs the Dallas Cowboys in a rare Thursday Night Football game which didn’t include Al Michaels sounding like he was watching paint dry (although that might be more entertaining than watching the Patriots and the Steelers).

Let’s take a look at how these two teams match up.

Breaking Down Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

Seahawks Defense vs 49ers Offense

Purdy is playing at a high level and leads the MVP odds. But let’s face it. The catalyst and the engine of this offense is Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is playing at an MVP level and it’s plain unfortunate that the MVP has become a quarterback award because McCaffrey and Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill are having All-Time seasons. He is currently on track to eclipse 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 24 (!!) touchdowns.

Stopping McCaffrey is nearly impossible, but doesn’t mean it is impossible. The only problem is, if you load the tackle box to shut down McCaffrey, Purdy is not Jimmy Garopollo and he will burn you down the field. Wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk is having a career year, in part due to Purdy’s aggressiveness and willingness to throw the ball down the field, and is on pace to have 77 receptions and 1,432 yards. That’s a whopping 18.5 yards per catch and he’s the guy Purdy will look to on key third downs.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is not having his greatest season, but as we saw last week, he’s more than capable of transforming from Banner to Hulk because my, oh my. Samuel just could not be tackled by the Eagles’ defenders. It looked like once he caught the ball, he was going to be in the end zone no matter what. Tight end George Kittle is quietly having a career year, on pace to have his first 1,000-yard year since 2019. This is another product of Purdy at quarterback, who looks to Kittle much more than Jimmy Garopollo or Trey Lance ever did.

So how can Seattle match up? Seattle has a pretty good cornerback duo in second-year man Tariq Woolen and rookie Devon Witherspoon. However, neither of them could tackle the 49ers’ YAC weapons on Thanksgiving night. SF’s third receiver Jauan Jennings sometimes catches teams sleeping and sneaks underneath the attention that Samuel, Aiyuk, Kittle, and McCaffrey garner.

The key to victory for Seattle will be to get to Brock Purdy and put pressure WITHOUT blitzing. Purdy is one of the game’s best quarterbacks when blitzed because he seems to know where the open man is at all times. Philadelphia learned this the hard way after Purdy went 10-10 for 213 yards and three touchdowns against them when blitzed. Usually when blitzed, young quarterbacks crumble. Not Purdy. San Francisco rocks the league’s 28th-ranked pass-blocking offensive line, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get to Purdy without sending more than five rushers. Pressure Purdy early and often, and the Seattle defense just might coax some rare mistakes out of the sophomore quarterback.

While Seattle does have an elite cornerback duo, their coverage at linebacker and safety is like AT&T on top of a mountain. It doesn’t exist. Give Purdy enough time and George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey will burn them in the intermediate and short passing game.

So Seaatle’s ONLY path to stopping the 49ers? Pressure Purdy without blitzing.

For the 49ers? Run the ball and pass deeper occasionally to keep the defense honest. 

Seahawks Offense vs 49ers Defense

The 49ers defense just got done shutting down one of the better offenses in the league. Yes, the stat sheet will tell you that Jalen Hurts passed for nearly 300 yards but most of those yards came in garbage time when the defense went into a preventive defense. Hurts looked nothing like the dynamic MVP candidate he was coming into the game. Maybe it’s because of his nagging left knee injury or just a lack of rest, but the 49ers defense did do a great job against Hurts and the Eagles.

Geno Smith is coming off his best game of his season, and if he carries that over in this game, Seattle has a real shot at upsetting the 49ers at home. Another big factor is the potential return of running back Kenneth Walker III, who was absent from the Thanksgiving match-up. If healthy, Walker would provide another dimension to the Seahawks’ offense. Walker is a dynamic running back and it would force the 49ers to play for the run and the pass.

The key match-up in this game is the battle between Seattle wide receiver D.K. Metcalf and 49ers cornerback Charvarius Ward. Ward held Metcalf to just three catches and 32 yards on nine targets with two pass break-ups. In fact, Ward actually leads the entire NFL in pass breakups. This is a huge match-up that will have implications on who wins this game. Metcalf comes off a game where he completely torched Daron Bland, who was considered part of the Defensive Player of the Year race.

Another match-up that will be key in this game is the chess match between 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks and Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. Wilks just got done shutting down Hurts and the Eagles’ high-powered rush attack, while Waldron just got done lighting up one of the league’s premier defenses. The Seahawks and the Eagles don’t run similar offenses, but shutting down their run games goes a long way in taking advantage of those match-ups.

A big reason why Seattle was blown out by the 49ers on Turkey Day was that they had no creativity on offense. They threw Smith to the dogs, essentially. They tried to drop back and pass all day long with no play-action and didn’t try to establish a run game. That didn’t go too well, to the tune of 6 49ers sacks. This time around, expect Waldron’s offense to center around a heavy rush attack combined with a lot of hard play action and bootlegs. Getting Smith on the move should help alleviate some pressure off his shoulders.

So how can the 49ers stop Smith and the Seahawks’ offense? It’s easy. Just do what they did last time, which is shut down the run, collapse the pocket, and sack Smith. 

For the Seahawks? Heavy play action all day and get Smith on the move to either side. 


The 49ers will win this game with a score of 38-17. Purdy and company will be unstoppable and the Seattle offense just won’t have enough in them to challenge much. As usual, this is always an exciting match-up and it’s always fun watching the chess match between Kyle Shanahan and Pete Carroll.

Main Image: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


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