The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a disappointing loss last week versus the Carolina Panthers. The Seattle Seahawks are next up on the schedule so the team will have to re-group quickly. There are three keys that are crucial to San Francisco’s success in week three. This will be another huge divisional game for the 49ers. They managed to beat the Los Angeles Rams back in week one. This could actually be a winnable game for the 49ers given Seattle’s early struggles this season. Max Unger leaving during the off-season seems to have considerably weakened the offensive line. The 49ers can take advantage of that weakness aggravate Russell Wilson.
San Francisco 49ers Week Three Keys to Victory
Attack Russell Wilson
The 49ers need to get to Russell Wilson early and often. Wilson is playing through a high ankle sprain and will not be as mobile as normal. The team needs to test Wilson’s ability to scramble early and put pressure on him. Blitzing and defensive line stunts should work well against a softening Seattle offensive front. Also, Doug Baldwin left in the third quarter of last week’s game with a knee injury. A MRI later proved to be negative, but Baldwin was also commenting about having back spasms.
Regardless, Baldwin will not be 100 percent and he is Wilson’s favorite target while scrambling. Nose tackle Glenn Dorsey, as well as defensive tackles DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead should have huge games. Look for the 49ers to come away with at least two sacks, and possibly an interception. This contest will end up a defensive struggle, and controlling the time of possession will be paramount.
Protect the Football
San Francisco needs to keep the ball in their possession as much as possible. Keeping Seattle’s offense off the field will only serve to ware down the Seattle defense. Blaine Gabbert and Chip Kelly should have a methodical game plan. Dink and dunk plays will slowly drive the ball down the field. Get Carlos Hyde going early and commit to the run game. Points will be at a premium in this game and it will be important not to commit turnovers. Hyde and Shaun Draughn must keep ball security at the forefront of their minds.
Seattle has one of the best defenses in the NFL. Behind them is the roaring crowd at CenturyLink Field, also known as the “12th man.” Turnovers will give this already raucous crowd further ammunition and amplitude. It is going to be difficult for Gabbert to make changes at the line of scrimmage due to crowd noise. Therefore, a simple offensive game plan is key. San Francisco needs to keep from getting fancy on offense and running any kind of trick plays. The intention is to eventually frustrate the defense and cause them to make mistakes. This should help quiet the Seattle fan base and keep momentum in San Francisco’s favor.
Win the Special Teams Battle
A game that is going to have limited scoring can be changed by big plays on special teams. The punters and kickers will play a vital role in this game. The goal for San Francisco rookie punter Bradley Pinion will be to keep Seattle in poor starting field position. In a game that may be decided by field goals it will be important for San Francisco to keep the Seahawks out of range. When Seattle has to punt this should in-turn give the 49ers a great starting position.
Games between the 49ers and Seahawks are always competitive and hard hitting. They usually come down to the end, and maybe one or two big plays. It will be interesting to see how healthy Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin really are. If San Francisco can get to the Seattle quarterback early and often it will help improve their chances. Hyde needs to have a big game, and is a key component to managing time of possession. With a few big plays on special teams it is possible for San Francisco to pull of a victory. This would be a huge win for the 49ers and could alter the trajectory or their season.