Through the ups and downs of the Seahawks’ past few seasons, they have always had San Francisco.
Seattle has won 14 of the past 16 games against the 49ers dating to the 2013 season, including a sweep last season when the Seahawks finished 7-10 and the 49ers advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
Can the Seahawks come home 2-0 after Monday’s scintillating, revenge-fueled win over Russell Wilson and the Broncos?
Here are our weekly keys to the game and a prediction.
Matchup to watch
Seahawks edge rushers Uchenna Nwosu/Darrell Taylor vs. 49ers offensive tackles Trent Williams/Mike McGlinchy
Nwosu is the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week with a sack and a forced fumble against Denver, and Taylor had two quarterback hits. But now on a short week they face one of the NFL’s better tackle tandems in Williams — a left tackle who has made nine consecutive Pro Bowls — and McGlinchy, the ninth overall draft pick in 2018 who is healthy after missing nine games last season because of a quad injury.
The Seahawks will need to consistently pressure 49ers second-year QB Trey Lance — who is feeling the pressure to show he’s a better option than Jimmy Garoppolo. They also must not lose containment on Lance, one of the NFL’s more mobile QBs (54 yards rushing, 13 carries Sunday vs. the Bears).
Player to watch
Safety Quandre Diggs
Diggs’ leadership in the back end becomes even more critical now with Jamal Adams out for the season because of a knee/quad injury. Diggs had interceptions in both games last season against the 49ers, including one that led to the winning TD in Seattle’s 30-23 win over the 49ers in November, and three in five games against the 49ers overall.
Diggs dropped a possible interception of Wilson in the end zone Monday. He tweeted “can’t believe I dropped that” and added that he’d practice with a jugs machine. There may be some opportunities against Lance, who has three interceptions in 99 career attempts.
Coaching decision to watch
It was tempting to read into everything that happened Monday, and one part of Seattle’s game plan was eye-catching — the Seahawks’ pass-to-run ratio. If Wilson thought Seattle didn’t let him cook enough, the Seahawks seemed more than willing to let Geno Smith at least bake a little, as Seattle had an 18-to-10 pass-to-run ratio in the first half and 28-to-19 overall (61.2%, roughly 5% more than last year). That included a 13-to-10 pass-to-run ratio on first down.
Will that continue? The guess here is maybe not against a 49ers team with one of the NFL’s better pass rushes (tied for fifth with 48 sacks last season, led by Nick Bosa’s 15.5) and with the Seahawks likely wanting to establish Rashaad Penny and the running game more. Penny had just 12 carries for 60 yards, and only four for 7 in the second half when Seattle’s offense went scoreless.
Seahawks’ Santa Clara superiority
As noted, the Seahawks have had the 49ers’ number lately and have been equally dominant at home and on the road. Seattle has won six of seven games in Santa Clara, California, since the 49ers moved there in 2014 (a 2020 SF home game was played in Arizona, but Seattle won that one, too). Seattle has scored at least 24 points in each of its past five games in Santa Clara and has won eight of 10 since Kyle Shanahan became coach before the 2017 season.
Player who could surprise
WR Marquise Goodwin
Goodwin, who signed with Seattle in May, spent the 2017-19 seasons with the 49ers and will face them for the second time since the 49ers traded him in 2020 to the Eagles. Goodwin didn’t play in preseason games but did enough in camp to earn the third-receiver role ahead of 2021 second-round pick Dee Eskridge, and had two catches for 22 yards in 28 snaps Sunday.
Geno Smith’s yards per attempt
Smith averaged a respectable 7 yards per pass attempt against Denver (Wilson averaged 7.8 in his time with Seattle). But that included a 38-yard TD to tight end Will Dissly — the longest play of the night for the Seahawks — in which the ball traveled just 14 yards downfield. That was indicative of Smith mostly relying on short and intermediate throws. According to ESPN, his average air yards per attempt was 5.36, 27th among QBs in Week 1 (Wilson was at 9.38 for Denver).
Smith said Denver played a lot of shell coverage trying to take away deep shots to the likes of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett — they combined for 10 receptions for just 64 yards. That’s a scheme the Seahawks are likely to see a lot this season. Taking what the defense gave worked against Denver, but the Seahawks may need to create more big-play opportunities in the passing game to win consistently.
49ers 24, Seahawks 19
A Sunday road game after a Monday night game is historically one of the tougher turnarounds, and this feels like particularly challenging for the Seahawks given the emotion and energy that went into beating Wilson and the Denver Broncos. The 49ers have some early urgency after a surprising loss last week to the Bears. This feels like a tough spot for the Seahawks.