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Seahawks vs 49ers keys to the game: 3 things Seattle must do to beat the Niners

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San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams seem to have the Seattle Seahawks’ number. It has been that way for the entire Jeff Fisher era and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of that changing. Fortunately, Seattle won’t play against Los Angeles again until late in the season when they’ll hopefully have the kinks worked out.

Sunday’s contest against the Rams was interesting, as the Seahawks did such a mediocre job adhering to my keys to the game. They looked solid defending the run, holding Todd Gurley to 51 yards on 19 carries. Unfortunately, stopping Case Keenum proved to be a daunting task at points in the midst of a back and forth field position battle that rarely yielded any ground to either combatant.

Protecting Russell Wilson proved to be an inconsistent affair, as the immobilized quarterback was hit a multitude of times while having decent protection at other points. Justin Britt looks pretty damn good at center, but it is still a new position for him. As he adjusts more and more to the new territory, expect the protections to improve accordingly.

Week 3 should be intriguing, as Seattle faces a San Francisco 49ers team that is better than everyone expected. After shutting out the Rams in Week 1, the 9ers stayed in the game against Carolina last weekend for a surprising amount of time. While the Seahawks should win the game, they cannot underestimate this divisional opponent and their startling stingy defense.

Losses are always learning experiences in the NFL. Seattle’s Los Angeles loss can tell us lots about what needs to be improved upon, especially leading up to Week 4 against the New York Jets. What do the Seahawks need to do to emerge victorious against the 49ers? You’re about to find out.

Contain the Ducks

Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner have looked solid as a duo this year. The Oregon products will do their best to control the line of scrimmage against Seattle, but the Seahawks’ offensive line must hold its ground. While Armstead and Buckner are both very young, the appropriate word to describe them both individually is ‘manchild’ and their presence must be constantly accounted for.

Protecting Russell Wilson is once again the number one priority and containing the defensive ends happens to be the most important pathway to doing so. With Aaron Lynch suspended, Ahmad Brooks is the main edge threat the 49ers have, allowing Seattle to devote their resources toward preventing interior push. NaVorro Bowman will play a part in this battle as well, but the Seahawks have struggled with interior defensive linemen consistently. Until they can fix this issue, their main focus should be negating the impact of Armstead and Buckner.

Get off the Field

While the defense has played very well over the first two weeks of the season, Case Keenum seemed to do a surprising amount of damage through the air. We are spoiled to be disappointed in a defensive performance that only allowed 9 points, but it will be important to get off of the field on third down in San Francisco.

Making Case Keenum look like Case Keenum wasn’t a hard check in last week’s column. Making Blaine Gabbert look like Blaine Gabbert is a must in Week 3. The run defense looks very capable of keeping Carlos Hyde contained, as the only above average lineman on the 49ers is Joe Staley. Getting after Gabbert and holding steady on passing downs will be important. If anybody is capable, it is this Seattle defense.

Sustain and Finish

It’s never about the start. How a team finishes dictates the outcome of games and seasons. Fans of the Seahawks know this above all else. While the team finished strong in Week 1 against Miami and almost pulled out another come-from-behind win in Los Angeles, Seattle’s fan base needs a break from these heart palpitations.

Drives cannot stall. The defense needs to make a statement. This should not be a close game in the second half. If there’s ever been a team in need of a blowout victory, it is the Seahawks. It’s never healthy to expect blowout victories, so I ask for simple things. I want sustained drives. I want to see Seattle finish with touchdowns. I want to see consistent conversion on third down. I want to see the defense get some damn takeaways. I want to see the Seahawks look like the Seahawks.

Slow starts have always plagued this team in the Carroll-Schneider era. That’s alright, as we’ve grown accustomed to it. If Seattle puts it together on offense (which I expect them to), there is a solid chance they pull out a win.