SANTA CLARA — Not the same two teams who faced each other seven weeks ago.
When the Seahawks beat the 49ers 27-24 in November, the 49ers were missing key players. Now they have tight end George Kittle, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, all of whom missed the loss to Seattle.
And the Seahawks have gotten banged up since then. They lost their starting free safety Quandre Diggs, their starting left tackle Duane Brown, plus their top three running backs — Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise. The Seahawks are so desperate for a running back that this week they signed 33-year-old Marshawn Lynch, who hasn’t played since Oct. 14, 2018. He might not be good anymore. Who knows?
The 49ers are better than the Seahawks. But the Seahawks have home-field advantage and pedigree. They’ve been good for a decade and have won lots of playoff games. The 49ers have been good for four months and haven’t won in Seattle since 2011.
Winning in Seattle would be a coming-of-age moment for the 49ers, no matter how injured the Seahawks are. They still have quarterback Russell Wilson and head coach Pete Carroll.
Here are the 49ers’ keys to victory.