Can Nick Bosa contain Russell Wilson? 5 burning questions for 49ers – Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (74) and defensive end Nick Bosa (97) warm up before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. (AP Photo/John Hefti)

The San Francisco 49ers will make their annual trip up to Seattle to take on the Seahawks for the second time this season. Despite having an offense that ranks 31st and a defense that ranks 32nd in total yards, Seattle was able to defeat San Francisco earlier this season.

Here are my five questions to watch for on Sunday.

1. Can Kyle Shanahan build a successful game plan without Deebo Samuel?

When the 49ers made the trip up to Seattle in 2020, they were in the middle of a two-game win streak fueled by a rushing attack that had run the ball 37 times in each victory and big plays by Deebo Samuel.

In the 49ers 37-27 loss in Seattle last year, San Francisco ran the ball only 22 times. Despite holding a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter, the game was for all intents and purposes over by halftime.

Over the course of a resurgence that has seen the team win four of its last five games, the 49ers have once again leaned heavily on the rushing attack to grind out time of possession. Deebo Samuel has made big play after big play.

With Elijah Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr. available, the 49ers should be able to get the running game going. In the first matchup between these two teams San Francisco’s running backs, Trey Sermon and Jacques Patrick, averaged 4.8 yards per attempt.

The loss of Deebo Samuel is more of the concern. Without his explosive plays, San Francisco will need everyone on the offense to step up this week, and it’s likely they will need a big game out of Jimmy Garoppolo.

2. Will Jimmy Garoppolo get it going in Seattle?

In his career, Jimmy Garoppolo has only one win in four starts against Seattle with a passer rating of only 79.26.

Over the past five matchups with Seattle, Kyle Shanahan has called an average of slightly over 40 passes per game. The outlier over this time is the lone victory over Seattle in the final regular season game of 2019. In that game, Shanahan called only 24 passes.

If this game plays out like the majority have over the last two and a half years, Garoppolo is going to need to play the best game of his career against Seattle for the 49ers to come out on top.

3. Will the 49ers defense be able to contain Russell Wilson?

While Russell Wilson has not performed up to his standard throughout much of this season, he can still cause problems for defenses with his ability to make big plays on the ground.

The 49ers defense saw this firsthand during the first matchup between these two teams in week four. With the game tied at seven late in the third quarter, Wilson was able to escape the pocket for a 16-yard touchdown run to give Seattle a lead it would never relinquish.

On the touchdown, it was Arik Armstead at right defensive end who lost contain on Wilson. The defensive line facing Wilson will have a different look this time around.

When Dee Ford went down with an injury, the 49ers shuffled players around. Armstead has moved inside full time and Samson Ebukam has replaced him at defensive end.

Although he is not the pass rushing presence Ford provides, Ebukam does a very good job of not allowing quarterbacks to get outside of him.

The player to keep an eye on this week is Nick Bosa. Bosa leads the 49ers with 11 sacks on the season, but opposing quarterbacks have shown the ability to get outside of his pass rush. During the most recent game against a mobile quarterback, Bosa was beat around the edge several times by Justin Fields.

4. Can the 49ers secondary slow down Seattle’s passing attack?

Seattle enters this week averaging the sixth most yards per passing attempt in the NFL. While that 7.9 yards per attempt is impressive, it is not representative of how the Seattle passing game has been performing in recent weeks. Over the last three weeks, the Seahawks have averaged only 6.3 yards per pass attempt, which ranks 18th over that span.

While the passing game has seen a drop off recently, Tyler Lockett has come on strong with 211 yards on seven receptions in the last two games. Lockett was held to only four receptions and 24 yards in the first matchup between these two teams.

Across from Lockett is D.K. Metcalf. Metcalf provides a physical presence to go along with his speed. He finished with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in the week four meeting earlier this season.

Another Seahawk to look out for this week will be Gerald Everett. With the 49ers linebacker group thin due to injury, the tight end could see an increased role. Over the last three games, Everett has 16 receptions for 137 yards and one touchdown.

Finally, is the trigger man, Russell Wilson. Wilson has struggled with his accuracy since returning from surgery on an injured finger on his throwing hand. Despite his recent rough patch, Wilson has dominated San Francisco throughout his career and seems to play his best when the odds are completely against him. Need proof? Look no further than ending a two-game losing streak by beating San Francisco in week four.

5. Will the 49ers get caught looking past Seattle?

From the outside, this is a game the 49ers should dominate. Seattle is 3-8, their offense is second to last in yards gained, while their defense has allowed the most yards in the league.

Upon closer look, those numbers are a little bit misleading, in particular on the defensive side of the ball. Seattle has allowed the sixth fewest points in the NFL and currently is ninth in points allowed per possession. This can be traced back to their opponents having the worst average starting field position.

If the 49ers lose focus this week, this is a game that could bite them. Seattle has battled teams down to the end of games repeatedly this season.


49ers 23 Seahawks 17

This article has 5 Comments

  1. I would add, will our DB continue to cover their receivers when Wilson is scrambling. Seems like every game against the Hawks there is a big play with Wilson scrambling and then throws deep to wide open receivers for a TD.

  2. I watched a replay of the WFT-Seahawks game. Seahawks defense was good. Very physical.

    This is a tough one to predict. At some point Wilson will snap out of his post injury splump. I hope it’s not Sunday.

  3. Big day for George and Mitchel. No way do the niners look past this team, way too much history. More likely a run up score.
    Niners 34, Hawks 14

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