Gone are the days when this was the premiere rivalry in the NFC. Things are different now on both sides of the ball when the Seattle Seahawks host their division rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The game is at 1:05 Pacific Time and figures to be an interesting one.
Here are some key things to watch for on Sunday:
When the 49ers have the ball
The offensive line, while improved, faces a huge test against the great front seven of Seattle. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are a handful and have caused the 49ers headaches since 2013. Giving Blaine Gabbert time in the pocket will be critical if the 49ers' offense is going to be effective.
Running backs Carlos Hyde and Shaun Draughn are going to have get some quality yardage in order to further take the pressure off of Gabbert and keep Russell Wilson off the field.
If the 49ers' defense gives the offense a short field, it will be imperative that they capitalize and get points on the board as this could be another low-scoring matchup.
The offense will likely have a difficult time, but it will come down to turnovers and how many big plays the 49ers can put up. if Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas are able to make a couple of big plays, Seattle will likely have to do very little to win this game.
When the Seahawks have the ball
The Seahawks' offense doesn't look very good right now and the surprising 49ers' defense has played well. The key will be making Seattle's offense one-dimensional and pressuring Russell Wilson.
For the Seahawks, they need to get the ground game going. Thomas Rawls is likely out for Sunday, but you never really know. Christine Michael is off to a decent start, but if they can control the line of scrimmage by running the ball, Seattle will have a great chance to score points.
The 49ers need to pressure Wilson with three or four rushers against what looks like the worst offensive line in the NFL. This game is in Russell Wilson's hands. If he makes big plays in the air and on the ground, Seattle will score 27 or more points and the game will likely be over.
On the other hand, if Seattle can only score three to ten points, the 49ers will have a good chance to steal this one.
The 49ers will give the Seahawks a good game, but Russell Wilson will play well enough late in the game as Seattle escapes an upset
Seahawks 17, 49ers 13
For a short podcast on last week's game as well as keys for this week, listen to the 49ers Weekly Podcast HERE with Dexter Carter!