It’s almost like some things never change, as the second Sunday of the NFL season features a division showdown between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers with far more than just bragging rights on the line. If Seattle wins they will remain alone in first place at the top of the division. On the flip side, should the Seahawks falter and allow the Niners to emerge victorious, San Francisco would take over first place by virtue of the head to head tiebreaker over Seattle and the division record tiebreaker over the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
In any case, it’s the second game of the Trey Lance era in the Bay Area, whatever that will turn out to amount to, and Jordan Elliott of Niners Nation was gracious enough to take the time and answer five questions for Field Gulls readers. So, without wasting any further time, here are the questions and answers.
1. It’s no secret how much success the 49ers have experienced in recent seasons with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. How much leash does Trey Lance have in terms of patience from a fanbase that is coming into the season with somewhat lofty expectations?
The 49ers made a firm commitment to Trey Lance early in the offseason, making their intentions clear that he would be entrenched as the starting quarterback heading into the season. While retaining Jimmy Garoppolo as the backup certainly complicates things, I don’t think it will have much of an effect the leash that Trey Lance will have.
Kyle Shanahan has repeatedly acknowledged that they accounted for the growing pains Lance would endure when they planned out their vision for the upcoming season, and I think he and the 49ers brain trust believe the roster is deep enough to absorb some of those bumps in the road early on.
The only way I can see Garoppolo taking over is in the event that Lance misses time due to injury and the 49ers offense operates at noticeably higher level of efficiency in his absence. Barring anything health related, it’s Lance’s job this season.
2. Both the Seahawks and 49ers played in low scoring affairs in Week 1. In the case of the Niners, such a low scoring game was not all that unexpected given the weather conditions. Do you expect another low scoring affair, or do you think fans would be better off taking the over this week?
I think week one was more of a one off type situation than a foretelling of things to come. The 49ers committed an egregious amount of penalties and turned the ball over in the red zone well before Mother Nature intervened and left her mark on a low scoring affair in Chicago.
I do think Seattle’s red zone defense was far less of an anomaly as many people made it out to be. The Seahawks ranked third in red zone defense in the entire NFL last season and even if they don’t force turnovers inside their own 20 they’ve proven they are more than capable of holding teams to field goal attempts when the field shrinks and their backs are to their own end zone.
I see the over under at 42 currently, and with it being so close from a judgment standpoint I would say bet the over. Life is short and nobody goes to their deathbed saying “I wish I spent more time betting the under”.
3. The 49ers, along with most teams, had issues on both sides of the ball in Week 1. What should Seahawks fans be looking for as the Niners look to bounce back on both sides?
The biggest issue the 49ers had in week one was staying out of their own way. They committed 12 penalties and extended two drives by the bears offense with an automatic first down on a third down stop that would have gotten the defense off the field. Both of those drives ended in touchdowns for Chicago.
Right now the 49ers defense is absolutely pulling more of the weight than the offense. If Seattle is able to hang around early and keep the defense off balance by not allowing them to pin their ears back and get after Geno Smith and those rookie tackles, Seattle has a shot to steal this one late.
Special teams could end up playing a huge role in this one, and as of now I would give the nod to the Seahawks in that facet of the game.
4. We know the big names - Lance, Kittle, Samuel, Aiyuk, Warner, Bosa and all the others. But who is a player that Seattle fans may not be familiar with who could play an unexpectedly large role in the outcome of this divisional matchup?
I’ll give you one from each side of the ball because I had a hard time picking between the two. On offense, it’s rookie right guard Spencer Burford. The fifth round pick has shined since being selected in April’s draft, but he has a tall task in front of him paving the way in the run game against a Seattle front that made timely plays week one against Denver. I’m looking forward to seeing how Burford fares against Al Woods specifically, who is one of the most underrated interior linemen in the NFL in my opinion.
On defense it’s Charvarius Ward. Seattle has two exceptionally talented wideouts, and Ward gives the 49ers a true number one who excels playing press man, which should come in handy against a big physical receiver like DK Metcalf. Ward is also deceptively fast, and has the ability to run down the field with Metcalf, which is something the 49ers have lacked in recent seasons when these two teams matchup.
5. What’s your prediction for the game?
I have the 49ers winning this game, but I think it is far from a gimme. This Seahawks team is much better than most national pundits projected coming into the season. Between that and the fact they have owned the 49ers for the past decade, it’s hard to confidently predict a 49ers win despite the edge I believe they have from a talent standpoint.
Ultimately I think the 49ers are able to take a lead into the second half, and the deciding factor of this game will be Nick Bosa, Samson Ebukam and that ferocious 49ers pass rush going up against Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. I liked both players coming out of the draft and I think they will be foundational pieces for Seattle moving forward, but it’s a tall task to ask them to outplay one of the better pass rushes in football in their second start in the NFL.
And that’s it, meaning it’s now just time to sit back and wait anxiously for the start of the chaos that is Seahawks football Sunday afternoon.
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