Every game matters, but few week-two games matter this much. First place is on the line. The winner of today's game takes sole possession of first in the NFC West and owns a significant tiebreaker advantage. Seattle plays its first game on the road. After being held aloft throughout the first quarter by the twelfth man, Seattle needs to prove it can play better football, earlier on the road. Seattle's run defense will be tested and without its best defender. Brandon Mebane has catalized Seattle's rush defense and freed Seattle's ends. The Seahawks depth is essential to Seattle performing at a high level today and Seattle's chances at contending all season. Few teams can survive without depth, but Seattle's 53 seems particularly injury prone. Red Bryant must step up and prove he is a future starter.
The two key components today are Seattle's passing game and pass defense. Both could be aided or undercut by their corresponding run component. If Seattle can stuff the run, it will assist Seattle's pass rush. This is a big test for the Seahawks pass rush. It was average against the Rams, but faces a less talented but perhaps functionally better 49ers offensive line. If Seattle can shred the front five, it will alleviate pressure on the secondary and portend a strong Seahawks defense. If it mills around the line and allows Shaun Hill to scan and set, the Seahawks could wilt under long, slow but steady drives for points.
Seattle's passing offense started slowly against the Rams, but ended the game looking like a potential top ten unit. It needs the running game to keep the 49ers honest. It needs the running game to be competent, because Seattle doesn't have a great rushing attack and San Francisco could have a great run defense. It needs the running game to produce something, because Greg Knapp won't abandon it. If Seattle's passing game is playoff worthy, it should click against San Francisco. The offense depends on it.