There’s more to the upcoming NFC West clash between the 49ers and Seahawks than a win, loss or tie.
Back in September, the 49ers’ offense — led by Blaine Gabbert — struggled to move the ball. San Francisco went 4-for-15 on their third-down conversions. The Seahawks generated 418 yards of offense and rushed for a pair of touchdowns en route to a 37-18 victory over the 49ers.
The 49ers got hammered again in a 29-13 loss to the Seahawks on Nov. 22. Thomas Rawls rushed for 209 yards and scored two total touchdowns. Tyler Lockett caught a pair of touchdown passes from Russell Wilson. The win improved Seattle’s record over .500.
If the 49ers lose, the division-leading Seahawks can improve their seeding in the NFC playoffs. A Seattle victory and a loss or tie from the Falcons would clinch a first-round bye for the Seahawks. A Seattle tie with a Falcons’ loss and a tie between the Packers and Lions would give the Seahawks the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
15 games down, one more to go. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t had much time to think about his previous starts. Instead, he focused on what he could do this week.
Kaepernick reiterated his biggest focus Tuesday:
“My focus once again is this week and making sure that I’m doing everything I can to prepare and to try to help my teammates prepare this week to get a win and I think that’s where this whole team’s focus is.”
“When I step into this building, my focus is football and what I have to do to try to win and try to help this team win, and I think our players, our coaches all have that same mentality. So, to me it’s an easy environment to come into and work and make sure you’re staying focused on that.”
As uncertainty looms, Kaepernick may play his final game with the 49ers against the Seahawks, giving him a reason to be concerned about his future with the team.
Kaepernick doesn’t play well against Seattle. He went 2-5 in seven regular season games dating back to Oct. 18, 2012 with two touchdowns, seven interceptions, 932 yards and a 55.9 quarterback rating. Kaepernick completed just 87 of 165 of his passes so far.
The 49ers need to halt an eighth-ranked Seahawks’ rush defense — allowing 95 yards per game — if they want to win.
During a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday, Cliff Avril shared his mindset as Seattle prepares to face San Francisco:
“Control. I’m a firm believer in control. That’s us playing our ball and going out there to get the W. It doesn’t do us any good if we play terrible and take a L. …On the defensive side, we have to focus and stop the run. They have some good play makers including (Colin) Kaepernick.”
Despite being hampered by a high-ankle sprain on Sept. 25, Wilson remains the top player the 49ers must stop. Wilson has a 92.4 quarterback rating, the lowest of his five-year NFL career. He has completed 65 percent of his throws for 3,961 receiving yards with 20 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.
Bobby Wagner is a versatile, talented linebacker. Wagner leads the NFL with 155 tackles. The 26-year-old plays a huge role in stopping opposing running backs. Wagner also excels at covering tight ends and intermediate throws over the middle.
The scoring defense under Pete Carroll is another one of Seattle’s strengths. The Seahawks have been without Earl Thomas, but Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman remain key pieces on defense. Seattle has just allowed 15 passing touchdowns this season.
Chip Kelly briefly spoke about the play action Wednesday:
“I think it depends a lot on what your wide receivers can do. Do they want to play you in man and can they match up with you receiver-wise?”
Kelly doesn’t have any overnight solutions for the team. For now, the team is just hoping to come out on top in the last game of the season.