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Seahawks at 49ers Preview: 3 key matchups for Sunday’s rivalry showdown

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off of a thrilling Week 1 victory that saw them beat Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos in Wilson’s return to Seattle. The Seahawks did not win a lot of the key matchups going into the game, but all that mattered was that they came out with the victory in what will forever be known as the Geno Smith Game. This week Geno and co. have to travel to San Francisco to play the division rival 49ers who are heavy favorites at 8.5 points on Draftkings Sportsbook.

There are a few matchups in this one that will likely dictate who is going to come out on top. The biggest is going to be how Seattle’s seven fares against Trey Lance in the running game as well as keeping him contained in the pocket in the passing game. Another matchup to keep an eye out for is how the Seattle linebackers will do against San Francisco’s offensive line in space, mainly Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey. The final matchup to keyhole in this game is going to be Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam against Seattle’s rookie tackles.

Trey Lance vs Seattle’s front seven

Trey Lance is not at a point in his career where he is going to be able to singlehandedly beat a team with his arm. Although his legs are good enough to where he possesses the ability to change the complexion of the game and force defenses to account for it on every single snap. The first place is a designed run to the offense’s weak side. Once Green Bay loses edge contain on the play it is a simple walk-in touchdown for Lance. We are likely to only see a designed run of this nature one or two times on Sunday, although it will likely be called in a big moment because of the effectiveness of the play. Even if the defense does not lose edge contain and forces Lance inside, he is still a powerful enough runner to where if Seattle does not have multiple players rallying to the ball, he is going to be able to pick up positive yards.

The second play is a mixture of the Bears defense missing tackles and Lance doing a great job to keep a play alive and move the chains. Unless you are pressuring Lance from his blindside, he is likely going to be able to evade the first blitzer and extend the play as shown in the video. What is key with Lance is not only keeping him contained in the pocket but also preventing him from resetting his feet once forced off of his spot. Lance is a quarterback with roughly average accuracy, although that slips a lot when he has to throw from an uneven base on the move. Even if Seattle’s blitzers miss him in the pocket, if they can keep him moving and behind the line of scrimmage, they are going to win more of those plays than not.

The edge - The Seattle front seven - Seattle has enough athletes in its front seven between the likes of Darrell Taylor, Uchenna Nwosu, Jordyn Brooks and others to keep Trey Lance contained as long as possible. It will be interesting to see if Clint Hurtt decides to spy Lance with Jordyn Brooks in obvious passing situations to try and reduce his overall effectiveness.

Seattle’s linebackers vs the 49ers offensive line

Tackles and guards blocking in space and at the second level is a staple of offensive play caller Kyle Shanahan’s zone running scheme. 49ers left tackle Trent Williams is one of the best offensive linemen at blocking in space, making him a player defenses have to gameplan around. The first play for Williams is a side view of Lance’s touchdown from above. Williams is able to get out of his stance about as quickly as one possibly can and is able to immediately get into space and take the Packers defender head on, clearing him out of the play, opening the edge for Lance. There is not a whole lot for defenders to do on this play. Nobody is going to be able to stand up Williams in open space, so the only hope is that you can beat his outside shoulder to the spot and force the ball carrier to turn back inside to the help defenders. On the second play Williams simply bullies the defender. This play is partially Williams being a one-man wrecking crew and partially on the defender's awareness.

49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey is not nearly as good in open space as Williams is, but he is still serviceable in that area. On the third play we can see McGlinchey is able to beat the defender to the spot by getting to his outside shoulder. This effectively seals him off from being able to come towards the line of scrimmage and instead forces him to have to take on McGlinchey and then try to disengage and run parallel to the line. As shown the defender was not able to disengage quickly enough which meant he was only able to get a hand on Deebo Samuel who scores on the play.

The edge - 49ers offensive line - Despite holding up well against the 49ers running game last season I think San Fran has the edge in this one. Denver was routinely able to create large rushing lanes for Javonte Williams who averaged 6.1 yards per carry and Melvin Gordon who ripped off 4.8 yards a carry. Nathaniel Hackett is not Kyle Shanahan and Denver does not have Trent Williams on their offensive line, which makes me believe the Niners (even without Elijah Mitchell) are going to be able to rip off multiple large chunk plays in the running game this week.

Nick Bosa and Samson Ebukam vs Charles Cross and Abe Lucas

Nick Bosa is one of the best edges in the NFL. Since entering the league, the Ohio State alum has played in 36 games in which he’s registered 25.5 sacks, 38 tackles for loss and 102 pressures. Bosa has a full tool chest of pass rushing moves and is going to be a handful for Cross all game. On the first play, Bosa shows his ability to convert speed into power by driving the left tackle right back into Fields lap with a bull rush for a sack. On the second play Bosa, lined up on the left side, twists inside up the middle to register the sack on Dak Prescott. His athleticism allows him to accelerate in between the offensive linemen on twists and stunts such as this one and with Zack Martin being late to pick him up on it; it results in an easy sack. The 49ers are likely to send Bosa on multiple twists throughout the game to test the communication of the Seahawks offensive line.

Samson Ebukam is certainly not the pass rusher Bosa is, although he is a reliable edge who has posted 4.5 sacks in three straight seasons. On the first play Ebukam shows off a strong move where he jabs to the outside to get the tackle to overcommit and then cuts in, beating the tackle to his inside shoulder. He then chases down Justin Fields for the easy sack. On the second play we see Ebukam do a really good job striking Cam Robinson in the chest and keeping his arms extended throughout the play ,which allows him to disengage and make the tackle for the loss.

The edge - Bosa and Ebukam - The San Fran duo gets the edge on this one simply because of how good Nick Bosa is. Abe Lucas and Charles Cross held up in their first game which is all that you can ask for from two rookie starting tackles. Cross did get beat twice for sacks by Bradley Chubb, although he put plenty of strong reps on tape. I do think we see Bosa get home at least once in this game and register multiple pressures.

Week 1 review

DK Metcalf vs Pat Surtain II

Predicted edge Surtain ll - Actual edge Surtain ll

Surtain ll held Metcalf relatively in check for relatively the entire game and when the Ole Miss product did make a catch, it was at or near the line of scrimmage. His average depth of target on the night was just 4.4 yards, and his 7 catches yielded just 36 yards.

Javonte Williams vs Jordyn Brooks

Running game prediction Brooks - Passing game prediction Williams - Actual edge on both Williams

It is tough to peg a running back’s performance on one player, but I did miss the mark on the running game prediction as Williams ripped off 6.1 yards per carry on 7 carries Monday night. Williams also won the passing game matchup, as he routinely was able to create separation which led to him getting 11 catches on 12 targets for 65 yards.

Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory vs Abe Lucas and Charles Cross

Predicted edge Chubb and Gregory - Actual edge Cross and Lucas

Despite getting beaten by Chubb twice on the night, Cross held up strong against the former first round pick. Lucas did a great job throughout the night; Gregory didn’t register any stats outside of his forced fumble on Metcalf which came down the field. For their first starts in the NFL Lucas and Cross did a more than serviceable job in Week 1.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)

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