At first glance, the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks doesn’t seem like it would have much overall interest, but that’s certainly not the case. Both teams enter Week 2 at 0-1. While the Seahawks are the unquestioned favorites in this game, they have quite a few questions that must be answered, beginning this week.
For the 49ers, the same thing stands. The only difference is that expectations in San Francisco weren’t nearly as high as they were for Seattle entering the season. Let’s look at five things we’ll be watching for in this Week 2 divisional matchup:
Will the 49ers take advantage of Seattle’s poor offensive line play?
This is an interesting question. The 49ers didn’t tally a single sack in Week 1 against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers and had only two quarterback hits. That’s obviously concerning — the 49ers have multiple young pass rushers such as DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas.
On the flip side, this could be a prime week for those rushers to break through. Russell Wilson was sacked three times last week and spent a ton of time running away from pressure during Seattle’s 17-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Time will tell, but the 49ers have a golden opportunity to use that defensive line as a game changer in Week 2.
How many touches will Carlos Hyde get?
This may have bothered me more than anything else in the 49ers’ opener. Hyde was solid running the ball, tallying 45 yards on nine carries (five yards per carry). He also caught six passes for 32 yards. It’s apparent that Kyle Shanahan and company want to get Hyde involved, but his rushing attempts need to be higher. The 49ers need to control the clock against the Seahawks, and utilizing Hyde will be the best way to do that.
Ideally, I’d love to see Hyde wind up with 20-plus touches, with about 15 being carries in order to control the clock.
Will Russell Wilson turn it on after Week 1 struggles?
On paper, Wilson had a great matchup against a poor Packer secondary, but that didn’t matter at all. He completed just 14 of 27 passes for 158 yards and a 69.7 quarterback rating. It was a severely disappointing showing. Obviously, it didn’t help that the Seahawks’ ground game struggled (more on that below), but Wilson has to be better.
He can make plays with his legs — if he needs to do that to open up the field more, then he certainly should. Wilson had 40 rushing yards in Week 1, but on only two carries. More rushes by him could have resulted in more big plays for the offense.
How will the Seahawks’ run game look?
Chris Carson needs to be a focal point. He was the only productive running back for the Seahawks against Green Bay, totaling 39 yards on six carries. I know he doesn’t have a big name like Eddie Lacy or even Thomas Rawls, but he has the playmaking ability.
C.J. Prosise was the second-best runner, with just 11 yards on four carries, while Eddie Lacy was brutal, totaling three yards on five carries. Whoever the featured back is needs to get more carries and produce. The question is, who will that be?
Can the 49ers end their brutal drought in contests with the Seahawks?
According to The Football Database, the 49ers haven’t topped the Seattle in seven games. They’ve also lost nine of the last 10. The losing streak dates back to the end of the 2013 season, and something has to give for the 49ers. Unfortunately, playing in Seattle won’t be an easy task, and this is probably not the ideal situation for ending the streak.
Something has to change, though, and 49er fans are hoping they can see an upset this weekend.
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