Depending on who you talk to, this is just another game, a big game for the playoff run, the most important game in recent history, or this game determines the fate of these two franchises for the next 10 years. The Seahawks haven’t won here since the 2008 season. The infamous game where Mike Singletary threw Vernon Davis out of the game, dropped his drawers in the locker room, and went on his ‘I want winners’ rant to the media aftetr the game. Strange days, indeed.
Seattle has won the last two games in convincing fashion. 42-13 and 29-3. Both those games of course were played in the home of Soundgarden, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, and Alice in Chains. The Thunderdome, the Clamshell, or whatever you want to call the acoustic nightmare that is whatever they call the Seattle Seahawks stadium. I guess they like loud up there, because that stadium is akin to standing next to a jet engine. Maybe they all work for Boeing and can’t get enough of that shit. Whatever it is, the home team has a pretty big advantage in that place. Their last loss at home was way back in the 2011 season at the hands of the 49ers. A 19-17 thriller that was won by a David Akers FG with 3 minutes left off of a 41 yard pass from Alex Smith to Michael Crabtree. Speaking of Young Sir Alex, he’s the last 49er QB to beat Seattle. That came last year in week 7, the 2nd to last game Smith would finish as a 49er. The 13-6 defensive struggle where Frank Gore had a huge game, rushing for 131 yards, and Delanie Walker scored the only TD. That game of course was at the Stick.
But, and its a little but, this game is in San Francisco as well. The Niner brass thought is would be a good time to remind the fans that they should yell and scream and try to be a nuisance, so they sent flyers to them saying as much. Uh, yeah. Wonderful. I’m sure the fans in Seattle are getting a kick out of that. But still and all, the truth is Seattle isn’t as tough on the road as they are at home. But, and here’s a big but, they are winning on the road. Something they didn’t do last year. And it cost them the bye and the division last year. Now, they are the prohibitive #1 seed, have clinched as playoff spot, and can sew up the division by beating the Niners.
So, where does that leave us? Well, this game is a big deal to me. Seattle is now the cream of the NFL. They haven’t done shit in the playoffs yet, but they have pretty much beaten all comers this year, save the hiccup in Indianapolis. They destroyed Nawlins last Monday night, and are at the point where if they beat us in our house, the prohibitive Super Bowl pick from the NFC, then they have wrested the bragging rights for the NFC West, AND the NFC as the best team in the conference. It would severely hamper our quest to reach the playoffs as well.
So, how do we win this? Well, I figger Seattle will play the Niners to stop Gore and crowd the WRs and VD at the line. Which it is my hope they at least activate Jon Baldwin for the game. Quintin Patton is apparently healthy but I’ll be dipped in shit if he even sees the field for the rest of the season. But the point is, the only way to get Seattle to back off of packing the box and stuffing everything underneath is to go downfield, and to do it with multiple WR sets. One way to keep the pass rush at bay is to spread the field and run delays and draws with Gore. I won’t even mention screens as they likely won’t work with everybody playing close to the line. The good news is Michael Crabtree seems to be his old self after going through the Achilles tear and recovery. He played over 40 downs last week and showed no ill effects after the stop and go that netter him 60 yards. We finally have all our offensive weapons here and ready, line injuries notwithstanding.
Defensively the Niners are pretty much at the top of their game. Even in the past couple losses, they haven’t been the problem. Albeit the pressure has been a bit spotty at times. However, Aldon Smith seems to be regaining his form after his rehab/layoff, and Justin Smith has found his inner cowboy and has begun pushing offensive linemen around like tackling dummies. Ahmad Brooks has made everyone forget the names of our pro bowl linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. The DBs are solid as a unit, and they are being led to battle by safeties Eric Reid and Donte Whitner. That being said, Seattle is even better than the Niners in total defense and they are a very aggressive defense up front and in the defensive backfield. If they are weak in one area, it’s at LB. Something I’d like to see the 49ers exploit with Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. Line these guys (one at a time of course) in the slot, and hopefully get some favorable matchups.
So, here we go. A game that very well determines the balance of power in the NFC for the next 5-10 years.
20-16 Niners on a defensive battle in the electric mud of Candlestick.