We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.



Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


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.

Russell Wilson is almost the entire Seahawks offense.

Wilson is the Seahawks’ leading passer AND leasing rusher. He has accounted for 86 percent of Seattle’s total offense this season.

If the Seahawks didn’t have Wilson, they would lose most of their games and their offense would be terrible. He singlehandedly keeps Seattle competitive.

What a burden to put on one player.

The 49ers will win if they shut down Wilson. Simple as that. And they almost shut him down in Seattle earlier this season. They held him to 34 rushing yards, 198 passing yards and a quarterback rating of just 80.9.

The Niners lost that game because they couldn’t keep Wilson in the pocket late in the fourth quarter. He ran for a couple first downs and threw the game-winning touchdown pass after escaping a sack and scrambling to his left.

Things have changed since then.

The 49ers can contain Wilson.

During the first game between these teams, the 49ers didn’t have rookie linebacker Reuben Foster — he had a high-ankle sprain. So, the Niners played NaVorro Bowman and Ray Ray Armstrong at linebacker, and neither could keep up with Wilson.

Since then, the Niners have cut both Bowman and Armstrong, and Foster has returned to the lineup.

Foster can keep up with Wilson. Every time the Seahawks offense has a third down, expect Foster to spy Wilson. And expect Foster to clobber him if he scrambles.

The 49ers will do everything in their power to make Wilson throw from the pocket. And that could involve rushing five defenders instead of four on third downs.

The fifth rusher will fill a potential throwing lane for Wilson. Most quarterbacks don’t need throwing lanes — they’re tall enough to throw over linemen.

Not Wilson. He’s 5-foot-11. He needs to slide around the pocket and find an opening between linemen, or flee the pocket altogether before he throws.

The 49ers will surround Wilson with five rushers and force him to throw over defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who is 6’7”. Good luck with that, Russell.

49ers 20, Seahawks 19. That’s my prediction and I’m sticking to it.

Grant Cohn covers the 49ers for The Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Pressdemocrat.com. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

Show Comment