I shouldn’t pick the 49ers to win this Sunday.
They’re playing the Seahawks, who are just a game out of first place in the NFC West. Their record is 6-4. They have something to play for. And the 49ers really don’t. They have nine losses. Their season is over.
I’m picking the 49ers anyway. Here’s why.
The Seahawks aren’t that good.
This is not the same dominant Seattle team the 49ers used to face in the playoffs a few seasons ago when Jim Harbaugh was the head coach. That Seattle team had Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman — arguably the team’s three best players.
Now, Lynch is on the Raiders, Chancellor is out for the season with a neck injury and Sherman is on IR with a torn Achilles tendon. His career could be in jeopardy.
What used to be the Seahawks’ biggest strength – their defensive backfield – now is one of their biggest weaknesses.
But it’s not their only weakness. They also have a terrible offensive line and a revolving door of mediocre running backs. This week, the Seahawks will start Thomas Rawls at running back. He was a healthy scratch in their last game. They didn’t want him to play. Now, they need him to.
Rawls has gained only 125 rushing yards in seven games this season. When the 49ers faced him earlier this year, they held him to four yards on five carries.
The 49ers are healthier and more rested than the Seahawks.
The Seahawks played the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night and lost 34-31. Then the Seahawks started game planning for the 49ers on Tuesday morning. That was five days ago.
The 49ers have been game planning for the Seahawks since Monday, Nov. 13. That was 13 days ago, when the 49ers started their bye week.
The Niners feel good about themselves right now. They’re coming off their first win and they’ve had a week to relish it.
And they’re getting healthier. This week they had just five players on their injury report. One is out with a thumb injury (free safety Adrian Colbert), but the remaining four players — defensive end Solomon Thomas, right tackle Trent Brown, wide receiver Trent Taylor and running back Raheem Mostert — are questionable, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. It means maybe they can play.
The Seahawks have 12 players on their injury report this week. They’re running out of bodies.
The 49ers have home-field advantage.
And not only that. There is a 70-percent chance of rain in Santa Clara when the 49ers and Seahawks kick off. Advantage: 49ers.
Bear with me here. I know you’re thinking I’m crazy because the Seahawks play in rain all the time and water won’t affect them. And that is true. But water isn’t the only issue.
The issue is water’s effect on grass and dirt. The issue is mud.
The Seahawks don’t play in mud. They play on artificial turf, where they fly around the field. They’re built for turf. Built to be faster than their opponent.
But they won’t be faster than the 49ers on Sunday. The Seahawks will feel like they’re running in slow motion. The field will take away their biggest advantage – speed.