49ers have ways to thrive against Seahawks
SANTA CLARA — No offense to the Seahawks, but the 49ers should beat them even without George Kittle and Kwon Alexander.
Alexander is out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Kittle is doubtful for this game with knee and ankle injuries.
Last season, the 49ers beat the Seahawks at Levi’s Stadium without Alexander, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Tevin Coleman, Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel and Jimmy Garoppolo. Those players either were injured, on other teams or still in college. Sure, the Seahawks have added players since then, too, but you get the point. The 49ers are better.
The Seahawks aren’t bad — they’re 7-2, but it’s a deceptive 7-2. They most likely would have only two or three wins without their starting quarterback, Russell Wilson. He’s the hands-down favorite for the MVP award, because he almost single-handedly carries the Seahawks to wins. Last week, he threw five touchdown passes and no interceptions, and the Seahawks still needed overtime to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have just three wins.
The 49ers beat Wilson and the Seahawks last season and should beat them Monday, too. Here’s why:
1. The 49ers have four extra days to prepare.
This is a huge advantage.
Last week, the 49ers almost lost to the Arizona Cardinals. But, the Niners were on the road, and they were playing their second game in four days. They looked exhausted, especially during the second half when they missed blocks and tackles they normally would make.
Now, they’ve had 11 days to rest, practice and game plan for a home game against an inferior opponent. The 49ers’ offensive and defensive game plans should be more sophisticated than the Seahawks’ game plans. And the 49ers’ players should have more energy.
2. The Seahawks have a bad run defense.
It’s hard enough to beat the 49ers. It’s almost impossible to beat them if the opponent can’t stop the run.
The Seahawks can’t stop the run. They have allowed 4.7 yards per carry (tied for sixth most in the NFL), and 12 rushing touchdowns (second most). Their front-seven is old and slow. And their middle linebacker, Bobby Wagner, isn’t the stud he was when the 49ers and Seahawks were rivals earlier in the decade. Meaning the Seahawks will struggle to stop the 49ers running backs, particularly Matt Breida, who’s averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
When asked about the 49ers running game this week on a conference call, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll responded with deep admiration. “Such a committed running game. They’re really hard to deal with. Kyle (Shanahan) has a big reservoir of things (in his offense), and he’s pulling on it. That’s why they’re so difficult to deal with.”
Carroll sounded like he knows what’s coming. The 49ers should rush for at least 150 yards.
3. Some of the 49ers best players are returning.
Sure, Alexander won’t play, and Kittle probably won’t, either. But, Kyle Juszczyk and Marquise Goodwin will return, and Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey and Ahkello Witherspoon could as well.
Goodwin missed the past two games for personal reasons. “He’s healthy and he’s good to go,” Shanahan said. “He had a good week of practice.”