The NFL’s current marquee rivalry is renewed Sunday as the 11-1 Seattle Seahawks visit the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers.
In a battle of NFC West teams, the Seahawks can essentially lock up home-field advantage in the NFC with a win, while a Niners win would just about clinch a playoff spot for Jim Harbaugh’s team for the third year in a row.
Where: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
When: December 8, 2013, 4:25 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket, Game Rewind
Seahawks Player to Watch: Marshawn LynchNov 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) rushes against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
An obvious name to be sure, but if the 49ers can’t stop Lynch, they will have no chance of winning. Lynch is about to break the 1,000 yard mark for the third time in three full seasons with Seattle. This Niners run D has been better lately after a tough first month, but Lynch had three TDs against them in Week 2, and Patrick Willis and Co. do not want to see Skittles fly for the second time this year.
49ers Player to Watch: Vernon DavisDec 1, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) runs with the ball after making a catch against the St. Louis Rams in the first quarter at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Davis has TDs in three straight, and 10 on the season, but he was shut down in Week 2 in Seattle. With the Seahawks boasting an elite secondary, Davis is the one matchup that San Francisco has a chance to exploit in the passing game. It’ll likely be a committee of Seahawk DBs and linebackers on Davis, as that was the strategy for facing Jimmy Graham last week. Perhaps Michael Crabtree’s presence gives Davis a boost in this game.
Matchup to Watch: Colin Kaepernick vs. Seahawks secondaryDec 23, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) carries the ball while San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss (84) chases after Sherman caught the ball for an interception during the 2nd half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 42-13. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
The last two times Kaepernick has faced Seattle, he has played two of the worst games of his young career. At home now, Kaepernick will be under pressure to not only get the ball out, but make good decisions with it. As we saw Monday night, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor can make any QB, even one as great as Drew Brees, look bad.
This game will be physical, brutal, beautiful football. The defenses will set the tone in this one, as the first half will be a chess match of field position. The second half will open up more, which will allow the QBs more chances to make spectacular plays. This won’t be the lopsided game of Week 2, but I do expect Seattle to win again and sew up home-field for the playoffs. There’s just no reason to go against Russell Wilson right now.
Seahawks 20, 49ers 13