It’s the Game Of The Year until the next Game Of The Year. It’s the Most Important Game The Seahawks Will Play All Season until the next Most Important Game The Seahawks Will Play All Season. It’s the Event To End All Events! ONE GAME, TO RULE THEM ALL!
As you can see, I’m trying to temper my anticipation of this game, but it’s not easy. This game is like Christmas Morning combined with your first sexual encounter combined with hearing the Ice Cream Man on your block combined with a Disneyland vacation combined with like a million Red Bull & Mandrin’s. I haven’t been this excited for a non-playoff game, probably in my entire life.
Which kind of makes it a bummer that it’s coming in the second week of the season.
What does this mean, it’s all downhill from here? Well, yeah! Sorta! It’s a long slow decline until we get to the playoffs, and then it immediately ramps right back up again. We’ve got 14 more games of this shit after this weekend! And none of those games are going to live up to the hype of this heavyweight bout!
Now, I know what you’re going to say: we have another game against the 49ers in Week 14 down in San Francisco. Well, you kinda answered your own question, didn’t you? There won’t be 70,000 rowdy fans at that game trying to break the world’s record for loudest stadium. And that game won’t be a nationally-televised night game on NBC (mostly because, in Week 14, NBC already has Atlanta at Green Bay, and there’s no way in hell they’re going to flex that game out). And sure, that Week 14 matchup with the 49ers might very well decide who wins the division, but I dunno. I guess we’ll see.
For now, we have this. And you can’t under-sell the importance of this game.
For starters, you have to hold serve at home. I think the Seahawks have just as good of a chance to win down in San Francisco as we do up here, but certainly that road game won’t come with the advantage of the 12th Man. The Seahawks HAVE to go 8-0 at home if they want to get a #1 seed in the NFC.
This game also gives us an early edge in both the divisional tie-breaker and the conference tie-breaker. You don’t want to be two weeks into the season and already behind by a game and a half in the standings. You don’t want to approach Week 14 and know that you absolutely HAVE to win that game. You want to muster all your strength right now, steal the early win at home, and then spend the next four weeks getting healthy against AFC teams. The Seahawks don’t play another divisional game until Weeks 7 & 8 when they go to Arizona and St. Louis. It would be a lot nicer going into those games knowing we’re perfect in our conference, to take some of the pressure off.
That all having been said, it would be shocking to me if the Seahawks lost this weekend. Let’s take a look at the positional battles.
Our wide receivers are better than their secondary
That’s going to be another key attribute to this game. The 49ers aren’t as bad as the Panthers in that regard, but it’s still a clear matchup win for the good guys.
Their front seven is better than our front seven
Our offensive line is REALLY going to have to step it up this week if we expect to move the ball consistently. Which, I think they will. I think they were embarrassed by how they were manhandled by the Panthers last week and I think Tom Cable will get the best out of his group this Sunday.
In this section, you have to include our tight ends and running backs. While the Seahawks have been able to run on this team in the recent past, I don’t know if you can come into this game and expect to just run all over them. The 49ers still have some of the most talented linebackers in all of football. They still have one of the better defensive lines as well. If you think the Seahawks will be extra-motivated to improve along the O-Line, you have to expect that the 49ers are extra-motivated to improve along the D-Line when compared to the thrashing in CenturyLink last season. Plus, they’re healthy. I think it’s going to be a tough road for Beastmode.
Russell Wilson, of course, is the wild card
I don’t say that to mean that he’s unpredictable and wild. I just mean that he has to be on his game. The 49ers are going to try to do what the Panthers mostly did: keep him in the pocket. We could be looking at another 300-yard game out of Wilson. Which is fine, whatever it takes to win. He needs to maintain his composure and limit turnovers. While our receivers are better than their secondary, if Wilson is being harassed all day, you might see him throw into coverages he wouldn’t normally throw into. That will KILL us if he leads the game in interceptions thrown.
On the flipside, I would expect the Seahawks’ defense to really shut things down.
I don’t think the pre-season was misleading a single bit when you consider how few points we gave up. I think this team is destined to lead the league in fewest points allowed and I think they’re going to shatter last season’s total. That has everything to do with our secondary.
The Legion Of Boom is better than their receivers
This is no contest, and an even bigger lopsided victory compared to the Seahawks’ receivers vs. their secondary. I fully expect Kaepernick to have a terrible time throwing the ball. Boldin is an easy cover. Vernon Davis isn’t anything special, especially when we throw a safety on him. I can’t even name their other receivers, that’s how bad they are.
Our front seven is equal to their front seven
Bet you thought I was going to give the advantage to their humongous offensive line. Well, you’d be mistaken. Here’s the deal: yeah, our D-Line is a bit of a soft spot on this team. If we were straight-up comparing line vs. line, then the 49ers would have a clear edge. But, when you factor in our linebackers vs. their tight ends and running backs, I think that shores things up quite a bit. The 49ers might be the most talented team in the league at linebacker, but the Seahawks aren’t far behind. Bobby Wagner is a little Patrick Willis. The guys flanking him on either side are super fast and super disciplined. On the flipside, Frank Gore is slow. If he’s still gashing us like he has in the past, then we’ve got more problems than just this one game. But, I don’t think that’ll happen. What our line lacks in pure ability to get to the quarterback, it makes up for it in contain. We can play the Keep The Quarterback In The Pocket game just like they can. We can prevent Kaepernick from running just like we prevented Cam Newton from running. We might not sack him, but we’ll keep his legs quiet and force him to beat us with his arm. Yes, he just did that against Green Bay, but that’s Green Bay. Their secondary – and their defense overall – is a joke. Ours is dominant, and will easily keep them under 20 points.
Plus, there’s one more wild card I have yet to really get into: the 12th Man
Our D-Line has been pretty weak at getting to the quarterback in the last few years. But, it has been exceptional when playing at home! Getting back to the Line vs. Line debate, I don’t think the Seahawks’ D-Line is necessarily that far behind San Francisco’s O-Line … when they play in Seattle. I doubt we will force them into many false starts, because they’re a veteran group and they’re terrific. But, they will always have to hike the ball on a silent count, which gives the Seahawks an every-play advantage on the snap. It might just be a half second, but our line is going to look that much more disruptive than it normally would in a subdued road stadium. On top of that, you’ve got the possibilities for botched snaps, missed blocking assignments because they can’t hear what is being called out pre-snap, and procedure penalties with guys lining up improperly. A loud crowd is more than just false start penalties. It’s a game-long breaking down of the opponent’s will. And considering the opponent, this time it’s going to be extra-loud.
We’ve spent the whole off-season gearing up for this game. Because they know as well as we know that it should have been the Seahawks playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. And they know as well as we know that it should have been the Seahawks playing the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers probably aren’t running scared, because they know they’re good, and they know they’re mostly-healthy unlike the last time we crushed them. Which is great. I want them to be up for this. I want them thinking they have every reason to come in here and shock the world. I WANT THAT! Because it’s going to make it all the sweeter when we turn around and ram it down their throats. They’ll have to go home knowing they lost their last two games against us, in embarrassing fashion. And they’ll wonder, all the while, “Do the Seahawks have our number?”
Yes. We do. We have your number, 49ers. And we’re coming for you. We’re coming for you.