Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta breaks down Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field.
Quick start, kick start
The Seahawks are a 13-point favorite, the biggest spread in their favor this season for what appears to be the easiest game left on their schedule. The last thing the Seahawks want to do is let San Francisco hang around, especially considering it has been terrible in the first quarter this season, being outscored 44-12. In fact, the 49ers have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter this year and have scored in the first quarter in only three of nine games. The Seahawks haven’t been a great=starting team themselves, scoring just two offensive touchdowns in the first quarter this season. One came in the earlier meeting against the 49ers when the Seahawks drove 61 yards for a touchdown on their first possession en route to a 20-3 win.
Red zone, not a dead zone
The red zone, along with third-down conversions, will be weekly things to watch for the Seahawks until they make them non-issues — or better yet, issues people are talking about for all the right reasons. The Seahawks remain last in the NFL in scoring touchdowns after reaching the 20-yard line, getting into the end zone on just seven of 20 possessions (35 percent). The 49ers have not been a good defensive team in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 18 of 29 opponent possessions inside the 20, tied for 26th in the NFL. Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham had just two catches for 31 yards in the first game against the 49ers, but they likely will try to get him more involved this time, which could help their third-down and red-zone problems.
The Seahawks had their most productive game this season rushing the passer in the first matchup against the 49ers, sacking Colin Kaepernick six times — 3.5 by Michael Bennett and 1.5 by Cliff Avril. They had particular success in the first game going up against the right side of the 49ers’ offensive line, specifically tackle Erik Pears. Blaine Gabbert, now starting at QB, is not as mobile as Kaepernick, but Seahawks players and coaches said this week that doesn’t mean they expect it will be easy to duplicate the sack feat of the first game. “The funny thing is, if you didn’t imagine Gabbert being a scrambler or an athletic guy, (but) he certainly is,’’ Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “That’s the one thing that stood out on tape. You’re used to looking at their offense with Kaepernick out there and his ability to scramble, and Gabbert, he maintains some of that ability, also.”