Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
As the San Francisco 49ers (14-4) prepare to take on the hated rival Seattle Seahawks (14-3) at CenturyLink Field, it will be up to the 49ers defense that will need to set the tone. A unit that finished the regular-season as the No. 5 ranked defense in the NFL, they will be looking to contain Pro Bowl Seahawks QB Russell Wilson early as he tries to improvise his way to first-downs.
USA Today Sports
A task that is easier said than done as Wilson is as poised as they come, the 49ers front seven will need to set the edge while keeping him inside the pocket. In two meetings this season, Wilson has completed 23 of 44 passes for 341 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. And while those stats are not eye-popping, it’s the little things he does such as keeping drives alive with his legs that’s invaluable to their offense. Luckily for the 49ers, he has not been able to hurt them much as the dual-threat quarterback has only 11 carries for 35 yards in 2013.
A testament to the play of 49ers 2013 second-team All-Pro OLB Ahmad Brooks and OLB Aldon Smith as they do an exceptional job of setting the edge, the Niners defense will need to continue to rely on that tandem, if the 49ers have any hopes of making it back-to-back trips to the Super Bowl. In two meetings this season the two outside linebackers have combined for 22 tackles (six tackles for loss), 3.0 sacks, and four quarterback hits. Not bad, but considering all of those tackles for loss and sacks came in Week 2, the 49ers outside linebackers will be looking for redemption this Sunday.
USA Today Sports
Going up against a Seahawks offense that loves to use different types of personnel including, 21, 11, and three-tight-end sets, look for Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell to mix it up. However after reviewing countless hours of game-film I found a tell in the Seahawks passing game. When the Seahawks use 11 personnel (one running back and one tight-end) on third-downs, Wilson often goes to his bread and butter WR Golden Tate on a quick slant. If the 49ers watch enough game-film, they should be able to exploit their offense as 49ers DC Vic Fangio has been dialing up bullet-proof game-plans all season long.
And if Brooks and Smith can sniff out a pass before the play is snapped, that should allow them to get a favorable jump off the snap, as both players are more than capable of forcing a blind side sack/fumble. With that said, at the same time they can not afford to over-pursue as Wilson is slippery enough to then use that to his advantage, as that will clear the way for running lanes.
Lui Kit Wong
A domino effect that should work in the 49ers favor if all goes right, they will first and foremost need to contain the engine that makes that offense go in four-time Pro Bowl RB Marshawn Lynch. A team that loves to use 23 personnel as well (three tight-end sets) with TE Zach Miller, TE Kellen Davis, and TE Luke Wilson, you can expect a run from Lynch. And while they like to use 11 personnel with the read-option (fake), Brooks and Smith should be able to set the edge forcing Lynch or RB Robert Turbin back inside.
If the 49ers front seven can contain Lynch that should bode well for the 49ers defense as they make their offense one-dimensional. A Seahawks team that has plenty of weapons but nowhere near the caliber of the 49ers, look for Brooks and Smith to be wrecking havoc on Wilson in the backfield all game long, as the lack of offense eventually catches up with them, as the 49ers are a more balanced and better all-around team.
Follow us on facebook: www.fb.com/ninerfans
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ninerfans
Follow us on Instagram: www.instagram/ninerfanscom