1 Run, Marshawn, run. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 41 yards last week against New England, his lowest output since Game 7 last year. Seattle needs to get...
Keys to Seahawks victory
1 Run, Marshawn, run. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 41 yards last week against New England, his lowest output since Game 7 last year. Seattle needs to get back up and running this week against an opponent that served as a landmark for the Seahawks’ offensive improvement a year ago. Lynch rushed for 107 yards against San Francisco last December, the first time in 36 games a 49ers opponent rushed for 100 yards in a game. The 49ers are not impregnable. The Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw ran 116 yards in San Francisco just four days ago, and Seattle must run the ball effectively to keep the 49ers from dominating time of possession.
2 Hold on to the ball. Of the 10 turnovers Seattle has committed this season, eight have occurred in its three road games. Seattle won in Carolina in Week 5 despite committing more turnovers (three) than the Panthers (two). It was only the second time in Pete Carroll’s tenure as coach that the Seahawks won a game in which they committed more turnovers than the opponent. Seattle is 2-13 under Carroll when it has more turnovers than takeaways.
3 Don’t get discouraged on offense. San Francisco is allowing a league-low 275.8 yards, and Seattle must be prepared to be persistent against the 49ers. Last year at San Francisco, Seattle failed to gain a first down on five of its seven first-half possessions and crossed midfield only once in the first two periods. The Seahawks gained a season-high 368 yards against New England, but they can’t get discouraged if they don’t move the ball that well in the Bay Area.
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Keys to 49ers victory
1 Don’t give up on the run game. The 49ers are 0-2 when quarterback Alex Smith is intercepted. They are also 0-2 in games in which they don’t rush more than 25 times. Think those two facts might be related? San Francisco is at its best when it’s running the ball and playing to the strength of its team, which is its defense. Sound familiar? Seattle has the same formula, and this game will be a test to see who blinks first.
2 Get an early lead. The Seahawks scored first in each of their six games this year, which has provided breathing room for their offense and their rookie quarterback. If the 49ers were to get an early lead, it might be the leverage necessary to get Seattle to start throwing the ball. That will create opportunities for San Francisco to rush the passer. The 49ers have nine sacks this season, tied for sixth-fewest in the league. That’s quite a fall from last year, when San Francisco totaled 42 sacks, tied for seventh-most in the NFL.
3 Don’t settle for field goals. The 49ers are averaging 387 yards of offense, an increase of 76.1 yards over last year. Only Indianapolis has had a larger increase from 2011. All that won’t mean much if the 49ers don’t get into the end zone when they drive inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. So far, the 49ers have scored touchdowns on 11 of 17 red-zone possessions, the fifth-highest percentage in the league. Seattle allowed New England to convert one of its six red-zone possessions into a touchdown last week.
49ers DT Justin Smith vs. Seahawks offensive line. Smith is one of this league’s best defensive lineman, and Arizona’s Darnell Dockett showed in Week 1 just how disruptive an interior lineman can be. Seattle started rookie J.R. Sweezy at right guard that game, and now the Seahawks have Paul McQuistan at that spot after James Carpenter’s return. The Seahawks are going to rely on that offensive line to not only hold up against the 49ers and Smith, but make headway to get the ground game rolling.
The 49ers have won three in a row against Seattle, San Francisco’s longest winning streak in the series since the Seahawks entered the NFC West in 2002. The Seahawks have also lost in San Francisco each of the past three years, by a combined score of 96-48.