The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks never need additional fuel for their division rivalry. Both teams were on the wrong end of the scoreboard in week one and will look to get back on track in week two. Even though this matchup no longer has the main event feel to it, both teams would like nothing more than getting a win at their rival’s expense. Three 49ers keys to victory must be achieved to conquer the Seattle Seahawks and establish themselves over their NFC West rival once again.
Week Two San Francisco 49ers Keys to Victory
1) Stay Poised Within The Noise
In week one, the 49ers spotted the Carolina Panthers with two turnovers that led to touchdowns and two field goals after failed fourth down attempts. Negative plays like these provide the Seattle team and crowd the opportunity to make noise. When that crowd gets a chance to electrify their team, it becomes one of the biggest advantages in the league.
Turnovers are only part of this equation as penalties will also spell doom for San Francisco. A holding call that nullifies a big play or a false start that sets the team back will swing more momentum Seattle’s way. The 49ers were penalized 10 times in week one and can’t afford to start drives in reverse on the road in week two.
If Seattle is provided with enough opportunities, they will inevitably take control of the game. Penalties, turnovers, and missed opportunities will be too much to overcome if Seattle gets to control the game flow.
2) Hustle to Russell
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson has made a career out of spinning away from defenders. Escaping the pocket to find receivers deep down the field has been a recurring nightmare for the 49ers in years past. Wilson’s athleticism has been put to the test more in recent seasons as the Seattle offensive line has been unable to protect him. Losing starting left tackle George Fant in the preseason has already proven to be costly as Wilson was under constant pressure in week one.
The 49ers were unable to record a sack in week one and will need to rely on their front seven to not only chase Wilson, but also wrap him up. That is easier said than done. It will require relentless pursuit and effort from the entire defense. Given the struggles of the Seattle offensive line, this should be the perfect stage for the last three first round picks along the defensive line to impact the game.
Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas will be tasked with not only setting the edge against the run but also corralling Seattle’s elusive quarterback. Reuben Foster‘s status for this game is currently in question following his ankle injury in week one. In just 11 snaps against Carolina, Foster flashed the awareness and athleticism that this defense has been missing.
3) Match the Seahawks Aggression
Seattle’s defense has become the model for several teams around the league. Add San Francisco to that list, as new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh runs a similar scheme to the one Seattle has perfected. Built on intimidation and ferocity, the Seahawks defense will bring heavy hits all game. Matching their aggression is not easy but goes a long way towards weathering the storm and keeping the crowd out of it.
A historically bad run defense a year ago, the 49ers were able to show vast improvement in week one. Staying fundamentally sound is crucial against Seattle, as they look to wear defenses down to set up play action and break off big runs later in the game. While the effort and yardage total allowed in week one was an improvement, there was still an unsettling amount of missed tackles. If the San Francisco defense can manage to correct those mistakes it will allow them to get off the field on third down. Along with a rest for their defense, limiting longer drives for Seattle will provide the 49ers offense with additional opportunities to obtain points.
The Seattle defense forces mistakes via early turnovers and penalties which feed their crowd. Protecting the ball is always a concern when playing the Seahawks. This can cause teams to become complacent on offense. As a result, potential opportunities to push the ball down the field are often overlooked. While their secondary is supremely talented at multiple positions, they have shown a susceptibility to give up big plays in the passing game.
When there are opportunities to attack the secondary down the field, quarterback Brian Hoyer will need to take advantage. The 49ers attempted to do this in week one on their very first drive, but a dropped pass by wide receiver Marquise Goodwin stalled the drive. San Francisco can’t afford to leave plays or points out on the field and hope to stay in this game. If the ground attack and intermediate passing game can secure the attention of all world safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, it will open up the deep shot for Goodwin’s Olympic speed.