The San Francisco 49ers have basically been two completely different teams so far this season. First, there’s the “sort of okay “version that shows up in home games and has managed to pull off three wins in five games. That version’s still be outscored 76-68 at Levi’s stadium, but has shown signs of life, especially on defense. Then there’s the away version, the completely inept train wreck that’s 0-4, has been outscored 157-58 and can’t seem it get out of it’s own way, especially on defense.
The bad news in Week 11 is that not only is the game on the road, but also at CenturyLink Field against the Seattle Seahawks. CenturyLink has been a house of horrors for the Niners in recent years, and the team hasn’t won there since 2011. Will the change under center to QB Blaine Gabbert have any affect on the fortunes of the team this time around?
The 20-3 score doesn’t really show how one-sided the Week 7 matchup earlier this season was, as the 49ers couldn’t get anything going against the Seattle defense. QB Colin Kaepernick and company were shut down once again, only managing 142 total yards. San Francisco had almost as many sacks allowed (six), and they did first downs (eight).
While the Niner defense did a good job of containing QB Russell Wilson, they once again struggled to find an answer for RB Marshawn Lynch, who rushed for 127 yards and a score. On the other side of the ball, DE Michael Bennett was disruptive from the get go, and recorded 3.5 sacks on the night.
Players to Watch
ILB Navorro Bowman is returning to CenturyLink Field for the first time since suffering a horrific knee injury that cost him all of 2014. While Bowman has struggled in pass coverage at times, and hasn’t looked as dynamic as he once did, he does appear to getting better as the season progresses. Currently, he ranks second in the NFL with 88 tackles, and also has 2.0 sacks.
Will the real TE Jimmy Graham please stand up? The all-world tightend has struggled to find his way in his first season with the Seahawks, and doesn’t really have an identity in the offense right now. He’s been held to four receptions or less in five of nine games, and has two touchdowns. It’s a far cry from the production he was known for with the New Orleans Saints, as Graham scored 46 times from 2011-2014.
Game Changing Factor
While the 49ers’ have gotten to the quarterback 15 times at home, they’ve only managed one sack in four road games. The lack of pressure is a big reason why the defense is getting torched away from Levi’s stadium. Overall, the unit has allowed an average of 39.25 points and 453 yards in the four contests away from home. While Seattle has lost the last two at in their building, they are traditionally excellent on there and should be able to expose the Niners’ Jekyll and Hyde defense.
Stats to Know
WR Anquan Boldin has been as steady a receiver as the 49ers have had since the days of WR Terrell Owens. His numbers over his first two seasons with the team were incredibly consistent, as he caught 85-of-129 targets in 2013, and 83-of-130 in 2014. In red and gold, he’s averaged 1,120 yards and six touchdowns a year. Boldin’s production has been down some in 2015 due to bad quarterback play and injuries, but he’s still on pace to lead the Niners in all major receiving categories.
Even though Boldin has been consistent overall, he’s struggled against the Seahawks. Over six regular season games with the 49ers, Boldin is averaging 3 receptions and 36 yards against Seattle. Against the rest of the league during the same time period, he averaging 5.57 caches and 73.7 yards.
Seeing @Seattle on the schedule is enough to make any 49er fan’s heart skip a beat at this point, considering the team has been (for the most part) pummeled there recently. The move to Gabbert might make for a few more yards out of the passing game, but I’m not sure it will be enough to put the Niners over the top here. The odds of Seattle losing three straight at home are slim to none, and it’s hard to imagine an upset here.