Mirror, Mirror…5 Keys to Victory for the Seahawks Against the 49ers …
After an emotional win on Sunday, the Seahawks have the gift of a short work week and a Thursday evening date with the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners, fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Giants, will surely come in to this game angry and looking to make an example out of our beloved Hawks. Before we get in to taking a look at this all too familiar foe … let’s examine some of the numbers that these 2 clubs have put up this year …Offense …Points Scored …
Seahawks … 110 Points [Rank tied #23]
49ers … 152 Points [Rank #9]Points Scored/Game …
Seahawks … 18.3 [tied for #26]
49ers … 25.3 [Rank #11]Rushing Yards Gained …
Seahawks … 786 Yards [Rank #7]
49ers … 1061 Yards [Rank #1]Passing Yards Gained …
Seahawks … 1018 Yards [Rank #31]
49ers … 1261 Yards [Rank #23]Defense …Points Allowed …
Seahawks … 94 [Rank #2]
49ers … 93 [Rank #3]Points/Game Allowed …
Seahawks … 15.5 [Rank #2]
49ers … 15.7 [Rank #3]Rushing Yards Allowed …
Seahawks … 420 Yards [Rank #3]
49ers … 556 Yards [Rank #12]Passing Yards Allowed …
Seahawks … 1348 [Rank #17]
49ers … 1099 [Rank #4]
While there is some clear disparity between some of the numbers above … an overall pattern emerges that is all too familiar …
BOTH the Seahawks and the 49ers are teams that look to establish the run FIRST.
BOTH the Seahawks and the 49ers are teams that don’t ask their QB’s to win the game for them by throwing a ton -- simply be smart game managers and don’t turn the ball over.
BOTH the Seahawks and the 49ers have great, fast, and very athletic defenses that are stingy as far as giving up points.
And as we already know, both teams have head coaches that are highly passionate and whose players emulate that exact same passion and tenacity.
In many ways, the San Francisco 49ers are a shadowy reflection of the essence of what the Seahawks are ...So how do you beat the 49ers IN San Francisco?
The formula for how to beat the 49ers is relatively straightforward (though not necessarily easy). Here are some pertinent statistics from their games this season …Key Numbers From San Francisco Wins ...
The 49ers had NO turnovers while forcing Aaron Rodgers to throw 1 Interception. The Niners rushed for 186 yards (Frank Gore ran for 112 yards on 16 carries [a 7.0 yds/rush average]) against the Packers.
The 49ers rushed for 148 yards against the Lions (Frank Gore ran for 89 yards and a touchdown). The 49ers and Lions each had 1 turnover, so no true advantage for either side there.
The 49ers rushed for an amazing 247 yards and 3 TD’s against the Jets (Frank Gore had 64 yards and a TD and Kendall Hunter had 56 yards and a TD). The 49ers held the Jets to just 45 yards on the ground … held Sanchez to just 103 yards passing … forced 3 fumbles and an interception … and had NO turnovers themselves.
The 49ers rushed for an incredible 311 yards and 3 TD’s against the Bills (Frank Gore had 106 yards and a TD and Kendall Hunter had 81 yards on only 11 carries). San Francisco forced both an interception and a fumble … and had only 1 fumble themselves. Alex Smith also passed for 303 yards, 3 TD’s, and was not sacked. Key Numbers From San Francisco Losses …
The Vikings forced 3 turnovers (2 fumbles and 1 interception) … sacked Alex Smith 3 times … and rushed for 146 yards (Adrian Peterson had 86 yards on 21 carries [a 3.4 yds/rush average]). San Francisco was held to 89 yards rushing (Gore had only 63 yards in that game).
The Giants forced 3 turnovers (3 interceptions) … sacked Alex Smith 6 times … and rushed for 149 times (Ahmad Bradshaw had 116 yards on 27 carries [a 4.3 yds/rush average] and a TD). San Francisco was held to 80 yards rushing (Gore had only 36 yards in that game).
Based upon the numbers from San Francisco’s first 6 games, there are a number of keys Seattle will have to do if they are to win this game …Hold the Line … Hold the Line …
In the War of 1812, the turning point of the entire war was the defense of Baltimore. One of the biggest keys to the defense of the city were the efforts of individual citizens of Baltimore, who not only erected barricades of earth, furniture, and whatever they could find on land … but also sunk many of their own ships in Baltimore Harbor in order to keep the British Navy out. That barricade of sunken ships proved to be an impenetrable barrier that made it impossible for the British Navy to enter … and ultimately was a large reason the Americans won the battle. Well if the Seahawks are to win on Sunday, they will have erect an impenetrable barricade of their own as well. They simply have to hold the line if they wish to have any chance of winning … and that battle for supremacy begins right up front in the trenches. San Francisco comes in to this game as the #1 Rushing Offense in the NFL, having gained an incredible 1,061 yards from scrimmage already. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, and Anthony Davis have clearly been steamrollers up front. The Seahawks Defense doesn’t look like one who’s going to be easily steamrolled though, as they come in to this game as the 3rd Best team in the league against the run, having given up just 420 yards on the ground. They have been a virtual impassable fortress up to this point … and that can’t change on Thursday if the Seahawks have any hopes of winning. Brandon Mebane is going to have to continue his Cortez Kennedy impersonation … Alan Branch and Red Bryant are going to have to continue damming up the river … and the rest of the defense shoot down Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter quickly like Patriot Missiles if they want to emerge victorious.
Like the Seahawks, the 49ers find themselves among the NFL’s bottom feeders in terms of their passing attack (they rank 26th in passing yards gained) ... and 28th in Passes Attempted/Game (29.3). Alex Smith has passed for the exact same number of TD’s as Russell Wilson (8) … and he has just 19 passes that have gone for 20 yards or more. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this isn’t Tom Brady and the mighty Patriots passing offense the Seahawks are facing on Thursday.
As the 49er running attack
has gone … so has gone the rest of the team. Seattle’s Defense comes in to this game having allowed an average of just 70 yards rushing per game … which STILL ranks #2 in the NFL. If the Seahawks can continue to do that, I very much like their chances tomorrow. And there is real reason to believe that they can. Here are the defenses that the Niners have faced thus far … Rushing Defenses the 49ers Have Faced in 2012 …
Packers … 661 yards (#19 in Rushing Yards Allowed) –Win for 49ers.
Lions … 482 yards (#7 in Rushing Yards Allowed) – Win for 49ers.
Jets … 903 yards (#31 in Rushing Yards Allowed) – Win for 49ers.
Bills … 1,041 yards (#32 in Rushing Yards Allowed) – Win for 49ers.
Vikings … 576 yards (#14 in Rushing Yards Allowed) – Loss for 49ers
[Vikings have #10 PASSING Defense in league … 1,306 yards allowed]
[Vikings have #16 PASSING Offense in league … 1,381 yards gained]
[Vikings have #8 RUSHING Offense in league … 760 yards gained]
Giants … 637 yards (tied for #17 in Rushing Yards Allowed) – Loss for 49ers
[Giants have #3 PASSING Offense in league … 1,738 yards gained]
[Giants have #9 RUSHING Offense in league … 750 yards gained]
So as you can see, while I believe the 49ers ARE obviously a good running team … some of the numbers they’ve been able rack up are undoubtedly the result of some of the defenses they’ve faced. In short, the 49ers haven’t faced a team yet that has the caliber of defense Seattle has. The Vikings appear to be the best defense the 49ers have faced thus far … and they lost to them. They say that defense travels well and if the Seahawks simply continue to be who they’ve been so far … I like their chances tomorrow.If I Could Save Time in a Bottle …
Pete Carroll is one who wants very much to establish the run in order to win the time of possession. After all, keeping your opponent’s offense OFF the field is one of the best ways to ensure yourself of victory. Well 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh wants to do the exact same thing. Just check out the Time of Possession numbers from San Francisco’s first 6 games …
9/9/2012 – at Green Bay … (WIN)
49ers – 33:00 … Packers – 27:00
9/16/2012 – home against Detroit … (WIN)
49ers – 30:26 … Lions – 29:34
9/23/2012 – at Minnesota … (LOSS)
49ers – 26:32 … Vikings – 33:28
9/30/2012 – at NY Jets … (WIN)
49ers – 36:56 … Jets – 23:04
10/7/2012 – home against Buffalo … (WIN)
49ers – 36:17 … Bills – 23:43
10/14/2012 – home against NY Giants … (LOSS)
49ers – 27:45 … Giants – 32:15
As you can see, in those games that the Niners were able to control the clock … they won. In the 2 games they lost the TOP battle … they lost the game. So whoever ultimately controls the clock tomorrow … more than likely will walk away the victor. The Running Man …
How do you control the clock? Ideally, you do it exactly the same way the 49ers would like to … having Beast Mode set off his own quake of the San Andreas Fault line. Beast Mode off left tackle … Beast Mode off right tackle… Beast Mode right up the gut for his 4.3 yards/carry average sounds pretty good, right? It does … except that as I mentioned above, the 49ers (like the Seahawks) are pretty stingy on defense … Points/Game Allowed …
Seahawks … 15.5 [Rank #2]
49ers … 15.7 [Rank #3]Rushing Yards Allowed …
Seahawks … 420 Yards [Rank #3]
49ers … 556 Yards [Rank #12]
The 49ers 3-4 Defense is stout up front with NT Isaac Sopoaga (6’2” 330 pounds) … DE Ray McDonald (6’3” 290 pounds) … and DE Justin Smith (6’4” 285 pounds) manning the line. The Linebacking corps behind them is extremely solid, as Patrick Willis (6’1” 240 pounds) and Aldon Smith (6’4” 258 pounds) are two of the best players in the game. Willis and NoVorro Bowman are both among the league leaders in Solo Tackles (Willis has 35 and Bowman is tied with Seattle’s K.J. Wright at 33) … and since I fully expect the Niners to load up the box to stop Lynch, I suggest an entirely different strategy against them … I Suggest a New Strategy … Let the Rookie Win …
Last week prior to the Patriot game, I said the following …
More than likely, New England will probably stack the box with 7 guys, trying to close down the running lanes, put pressure on Russell Wilson, and force the young rookie to beat them through the air. Carroll and the rest of the Seahawks know that as well ... which is why I believe that is exactly Seattle will look to do. The statistics appear to indicate that the Patriots secondary is a real Achilles Heel on this team, which is why I'd look for the Seahawks to look to exploit it. Don't be surprised if the Seahawks take some shots down the field, as Wilson hit Golden Tate for a 56 yard completion in the Carolina Game (which was ultimately called back due to a holding penalty on Giacomini). In that game, Russell Wilson showed some real promising glimpses that he may be starting to come in to his own. So personally, I'd look for Carroll and company to look to set up the RUN ... with the PASS in this game (not vice versa) in order to try get the defense back on its heels and to open up the ground game.http://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/10/955424-my-five-keys-victory-patriots-against-seahawks.html#post3195860
And I was absolutely right in that assessment, as Carroll DID open up the offense and Wilson passed for 293 yards and 2 scores in that game. While San Francisco doesn’t have NEARLY the deficiencies in the secondary that New England clearly does … I’d look for Carroll to actually implement the same basic strategy in this game. Now I can hear some of the skeptics out there saying, “Why in the world you even want to attempt that against Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson, and the league’s #4 Passing Defense?
Here are a few reasons why:
1) As we talked about above, the 49ers will undoubtedly be looking to key on Marshawn Lynch, loading 7 (or possibly even 8 ) guys up in the box, forcing the young rookie to beat them. If the Seahawks just SHOW (even for a few plays) that Wilson’s arm is a true threat … they might just back off a little and the lanes would then open up for Lynch.
2) Believe it or not … for all the hype that the 49ers Defense gotten, they have racked up just 9 sacks (only 5 teams in the NFL come in to this week with fewer). Getting consistent pressure on opposing QB’s has been an issue for them.
3) The 49ers have only 4 interceptions (in the bottom 3rd of the league) … and have just 26 passes defensed (tied for 23rd -- the Seahawks have 40, which ranks in the upper 3rd of the league]. So, those teams that have taken their shots haven’t gotten burned nearly as much as you’d think they should have.
In brief, San Francisco’s defense may not be quite as good
as the statistics might indicate. Just taking a look at Total Tackles, the Giants and the Vikings are the 2 teams that have beaten the 49ers thus far. Minnesota’s defense has 454 tackles … and the Giants have 453 – which ranks #2 and #3 respectively in the league. The Patriots, by the way, are #1 in the league with 526 Total Tackles. Seattle comes in to this game as the #4 team in the NFL with 435 Total Tackles.
What about the 49ers? They come in at #17 with 387 Total Tackles. Watch for Falling Rocks …
It’s a truism in football to say that if you don’t turn the ball over … more times than not you’re going to win the game. And the 49ers are no exception to that old axiom.
In the 4 games that the 49ers have WON this year, they have …
forced a grand total of 4 fumbles
picked off opposing QB’s 4 times
and had only 2 fumbles themselves.
[A Give Away/Take Away Margin of +6]
In the 2 games that the 49ers have LOST this year, they have …
forced 2 fumbles and
committed 4 interceptions
and coughed up 2 fumbles.
[A Give Away/Take Away Margin of -4]
Pete Carroll has preached the need to take care of the ball again and again. Going in to a hostile environment like Candlestick Park … for a team like the 49ers who know how to dominate the clock … it’s never been more true. If the Seahawks take care of the ball … and simply BE who they were in the 2nd Half of the Patriots game … then I very much like their chances of going in to San Francisco and pulling off an upset.
The Vegas odds makers have the Seahawks as a 7.5 point underdog against the 49ers tomorrow. Though the Seahawks have lost the last 3 straight games to the Niners, you should go out and call your bookie right now because there is a whole lot to like in this game if you’re a Seahawks fan. Just ask the Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots who were ALL considered favorites heading in to their matchups with the mighty Hawks. As the Dixie Dynamo Greg Roberts is fond of saying … I believe they’ve got the wrong team favored.
Seahawks 20 … 49ers 17