Sunday Night under the lights two of the most dominant teams in the NFL set to face off in Seattle, as the Seattle Seahawks host hated rival San Francisco 49ers. The last time these two teams met in Seattle the Seahawks offense outplayed the 49ers defense, with Marshawn Lynch running for 111 yards on 26 carries, adding a touchdown. Russell Wilson threw for 171 yards and 4 touchdowns, as Seattle absolutely dominated the 49ers up front, while picking apart the secondary at will. The final score in that game was 42-13, a game that should be long gone from the memories of fans and players on the 49ers, as they proved to be the better team in the end, as the Seahawks fell short of meeting the 49ers for a 3rd time in the NFC championship game.
I do not bring up last season’s week 16 game to open up old wounds, but to point out the defensive flaws in the 49ers defense that existed then, but do not exist now. First of all injuries up front killed the 49ers second half of the season a year ago. Including injuries to run stuffer and defensive force Justin Smith and the 49ers own pass rushing sack master Aldon Smith. Justin Smith missed the game completely, healing from a torn triceps injury just the week before against the Patriots. Without the push from Justin, Aldon suffered on the other end, dealing with constant double teams, and Aldon himself injured with a torn labrum injury of his own; playing hurt did not help against the Seahawks. The Seahawks offense played right into the weakness of the 49ers defense, attacking the weakened defensive front, by unleashing the beast that is Marshawn Lynch. Without the tenacity of Justin Smith, and an injured Aldon Smith being double teamed on the other end, the Seahawks easily established the ground game, which in effect opened up Russell Wilson to pass for 4 touchdowns.
Coming into this Sunday night’s game the 49ers are healthy, whole, and strong up front once again, and must stop Marshawn Lynch from unleashing any kind of “Beast Mode,” enabling play action and Wilson to get comfortable. If the 49ers are able to shut down Lynch and make this Seahawks offense one-dimensional they can win this game. It is a strategy that relies heavily on the defensive front, in order to make the defensive backfields job much easier. Justin Smith must set the tone for smash mouth football upfront for Ian Williams, Ray McDonald, and others to follow. Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks must get up field and smother Russell Wilson. They cannot let Wilson get comfortable in the pocket, nor can they let him roam free outside of the pocket. Wilson is known to pass outside of the pocket just as well, if not better then inside of it, therefore outside containment is a must. The 49ers defense is better off forcing Wilson to step up in the pocket then letting him out.
Carolina proved last week that Seattle can be contained with a push from up front, and with Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman right behind the line, expect the all-pro linebackers to have big games Sunday night, shedding blockers and stopping the run will be their priority. Shutting down Marshawn Lynch will change this game in the favor of San Francisco, Russell Wilson is not Aaron Rodgers, and with the game on his shoulders in a pass happy Seattle offense will benefit a healthy defensive front of San Francisco, and leave the defensive backfield to clean up any mess thrown their way. Percy Harvin, who was brought in to torture the likes of the 49ers, as he has played exceptionally well against San Francisco while in Minnesota, is injured, and with that injury brings a lack of dynamic diversity needed to beat the 49ers defense. If the Seahawks come in with the same game plan as last season they will be crushed, this is not the same 49ers team coming into Seattle, offensively or defensively, this 49ers team is ready for the beast.