Only 4 days after being handed a tough loss, the 49ers have to play another game. What makes it tougher is the fact that it’s their first divisional game of the season.
Thursday Night Football features the Seattle Seahawks (4-2) facing the San Francisco 49ers (4-2) at Candlestick after a short week. The 49ers are coming off their worst loss of the season so far as they have to regroup against a tough Seahawks team that just won another shocker this last weekend beating the New England Patriots 24-23. Both Seattle and San Francisco along with Arizona are tied atop the NFC West.
While many teams do not envy having a short week, it might be a blessing mentally for the 49ers, especially their QB Alex Smith who threw 3 interceptions in Sunday’s 26-3 loss to the New York Giants. No time to focus on the mistakes as the Seahawks and Thursday night are just around the corner.
“Consciously, obviously putting this one away quick with the quick turnaround Thursday,” Smith said. “After a loss like that, yeah in some ways it’s nice because you can’t dwell on it, even as a team. You’ve just got to move on.”
Alex smith has been very consistent this year as the starting QB for the 49ers with last week being an exception. Alex Smith had gone 26 straight starts without a multi-interception game. Though Alex is not one of the top QB’s in the league, he is not likely going to perform like he did against the Giants.
He might just take a lot of sacks instead from the tough defensive line of the Seahawks. Seattle has 17 sacks this season which pits them tied for 7th place in the NFL entering week 7. Chris Clemons, who has 5.5 sacks, is going to give the LT of the 49ers many problems whoever he is. Joe Staley sustained a concussion and is thus far questionable for Thursday’s game. It might end up being RG Alex Boone moving over to LT while veteran Leonard Davis comes in at RG. If Staley’s not there, Clemons along with Bruce Irvin (4.5 sacks) will give the 49ers offensive line more trouble which might force a double team and open up holes for other rushers.
Maybe running the ball would be the better option. Though rushing wasn’t the strong suit in the loss to Giants, it could still work as the 49ers still are the best rushing team statistically with 176.8 yards a game on the ground. The 49ers grossly under ran the ball, even before desperation time set in. A total of 17 rushes in the game and Frank Gore only carried it 8 times for 36 yards.
Running better, right? Not against Seattle. The Seahawks actually have the 2nd best rush defense statistically so far this season only allowing 70 rushing yards a game. The Seahawks even shut down the Patriots running game which was gaining steam under Stevan Ridley. New England only had 87 yards on the ground with 34 of those coming from Ridley on 16 carries. Imagine what they will do with Frank Gore and the ground game of the 49ers.
Seattle is just a tough defense for any team. They are allowing 15.5 points per game 2nd only to the Chicago Bears who allow 14.2 points per game.
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said of the Seahawks “It’ll be a football fight Thursday night. They play hard, they play fast – really good defensively.”
The 49ers offense must achieve balance and get off to the right start on Thursday. When the 49ers fall behind, even by a little, they tend panic and abandon their game plan. It happened against the Vikings and the Giants which is something that must’ve caught the attention of the Seahawks. The 49ers must stick to their strengths, even in this tough contest.
As for what the Seahawks have to offer on offense, they seem to be taking a the balanced approach and letting their running game do a lot of the work. The Seahawks are 7th in the league in rushing averaging 131 yards per game on the ground. The Seahawks, however, were held to just 85 yards on the ground rushing against the Patriots. Provided that momentum doesn’t swing like it did Sunday against the Giants, the 49ers should be able to handle the Seahawks rushing attack. Russell Wilson isn’t exactly Eli Manning to help keep the 49ers defense honest.
The flip side, however, is that he is getting better. Russell Wilson carried the Seahawks to a win over New England with 293 yards and 3 TD passes. Considering he did that with just 16 completions, says he can stretch the field, especially with a 46 yard TD pass to Sidney Rice to win the game. with under 2 minutes remaining. Hopefully the 49ers have been humbled enough to take this rookie QB seriously.
The 49ers are still a very good defensive team and should be able to handle Russell Wilson down. The 49ers only allow roughly 183.2 passing yards per game which is 2nd in the league just behind the Dallas Cowboys allowing 181.6 passing yards a game. Despite what Ahmad Bradshaw did to the 49ers last weekend, they are still a good rush defense team allowing 92.7 yards a game on the ground, 9th overall. Also, the 49ers are right behind the Seahawks in the points allowed per game category with 15.7.
What can we expect to see on Thursday night? If you love high powered offenses, Quarterbacks moving up and down the field routinely, and amazing TD plays, then this isn’t the game for you. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll might try some big throws to throw off the 49ers defense but look for two teams trying to pound their way on the ground for yards while they hit brick walls. This will likely end up being a low scoring game that will come down to the final minutes with one side getting desperate.
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Written by Daniel Trucios