The Seattle Seahawks snuck into the playoffs at the very last minute, as a dark horse. The New Orleans Saints hosted Seattle in October and we’ve seen some more of them throughout the year to know their flaws and strengths. Let’s go over a quick preview of what Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers should already know about Seattle.
Seattle’s defense struggled mightily to stop the run early in the year. It got a little better with time but that’s still their most glaring weakness. They allowed over 150 rushing yards per game with 20 rushing touchdowns and 4.8 yards per carry through their first six games.
They finished 26th in the NFL in total defense (YPG allowed) and 30th in rushing defense (YPG). Seattle also finished with the ninth-most missed tackles in the NFL and now face a slew of players who thrive in the open field. This screams nightmare for Seattle, but we also know it’s hard to beat the same team 3x in a row. On the flip side, they did finish T-8th in turnovers forced this season.
They also finished 13th in passing defense (YPG). This is a testament to how good and energetic their secondary has been to them all year, but it could also be a testament to most teams forcing the issue with the running game.
Kenneth Walker III has been the most reliable asset for Seattle offensively, in his first year. Walker’s rookie campaign consisted of 1,215 all-purpose yards + nine touchdowns. This is while getting just seven carries in the first three games:
Most rushes of 20+ YDS this season:— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) January 9, 2023
Nick Chubb - 13
Kenneth Walker - 10 pic.twitter.com/SGgUNNSy9c
Seattle will need Walker to have a big-time performance if they want a shot at beating SF. Seattle only scored one total touchdown in their two matchups this season.
Receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett both eclipsed 1K yards this year, both having solid seasons again. They’ll have to answer when called upon to win one-on-one matchups. Nick Bosa will most likely win DPOY (deservedly) and he’s the main staple to a pretty deadly pass rush. Seattle's o-line has been better this year than recent years, but it’s still middle of the pack. Seattle has to win on the outside, no other way around it.
Offensively, Seattle finished the year 11th in passing YPG and 18th in rushing YPG. Both of these trends will have to trend upwards if they want to make any noise.
Geno Smith has a very reasonable shot at winning Comeback Player of the Year. He’s progressed in pretty much every aspect of quarterback play (most notably arm talent) and he’s put-up numbers while not having the best supporting cast on either side. He’s moved the needle just enough.
Geno Smith this year:— Aidan Doc (@AidanDoc_) January 9, 2023
4282 passing yards
366 rushing yards
100.9 QB rating
Led team to playoffs
Geno has to be the best QB on the field Saturday.
Seattle has their work cut out for them and more, as they currently sit as 10-point underdogs. However, “Any Given Sunday” applies to every weekend - especially when it comes to division rivals. I wouldn’t expect a Seattle upset but I also wouldn’t be surprised. They have enough tools and while SF is on a 10-game winning streak, they’re far from invincible.
Niners host Seattle on Saturday, 1/14 at 3:30pm CST.