Ron Glover’s Preview and Prediction: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers: Can the Seahawks defense step up on the road?
Frank Gore and the Niners are in for another physical contest.
The Seattle Seahawks were involved in one of the most controversial games in NFL history when an inaccurate call handed them a win against the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks shrugged off the skeptics by winning two of three, including a thriller at home against the New England Patriots last Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers were in the midst of a 79-3 run against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Things were rolling smoothly until the New York Giants reminded the Niners why they are Super Bowl champions. The loss has once again raised questions about the play of quarterback Alex Smith.
NFC West lead hangs in the balance as two of the NFL’s top defenses meet at Candlestick Park.
The red-hot 49ers ran into a buzz saw last week against the Giants. The offense stalled and the defense was manhandled across the board. Quarterback Alex Smith threw three picks and was sacked six times. His performance was a grim reminder of what can happen if he fails to play within the flow of the game. The Giants were able to keep the Niners run game in check by holding them to 80 yards on 17 carries. Frank Gore could only grind out 36 yards on 8 rushes. Smith was able to spread the ball around but production from his receivers was minimal.
Backup Colin Kaepernick could see a significant number of plays tonight as the speedy Seahawks defense will look to get after Smith at every chance. Kaepernick’s arm and legs will prevent the Seahawks from taking big risks. Remember this is a Seahawks defense that sacked a mobile Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half. Chris Clemons is a cast off that has been one of the most productive defensive ends the last three seasons. The Niners coaching staff cannot take him lightly.
The Niners receiving corps will be severely tested by a secondary that is just as physical as their own. Seattle corners Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman are as good as they come. Tight end Vernon Davis has to rebound from last week’s subpar performance. Randy Moss had two receptions for 75 yards last week proving his production can still come in chunks.
Russell Wilson’s numbers aren’t going to jump out at you. His ability to minimize his mistakes affords him the opportunity to take risks now and then. He lulled the Patriots defense to sleep before his game-winning touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. His arm strength is underrated and so is his ability as a runner. Marshawn Lynch is third in the NFL in rushing with 549 yards. He will need to have more carries this week (15 against the Patriots) in order for the Seahawks passing game to open up. The Giants were able to gain 150 yards on the ground against the Niners defense that was on the field for 33 minutes.
Success for the Niners defense is going to have to come from the edges. Justin Smith has to get into the passing lanes and disrupt Wilson’s timing. Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith will have to be aware of dump offs to Lynch who is a touchdown threat when he has the ball. Receivers Golden Tate and Sidney Rice will be tested against corners Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.
Prediction: Both defensive units are in the top ten so don’t look for much in the way of offensive fireworks. Both teams have split the last ten meetings and are evenly matched. This in-your-face matchup may come down to turnovers and special teams. I like the Niners led by four David Akers field goals.
Niners 19 - Seahawks 17