It’s all about the ball, right? Well for the Seattle Seahawks, they need every little edge they can get to upset the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday. San Francisco has dominated them over the last four games and is a heavy favorite to make it five consecutive wins.
Of course, the Seahawks almost pulled off a shocker against the Dallas Cowboys last week, so it’s not like Seattle is uniquely unable to get upset victories. As simplistic as this may sound, the path of a potentially season-changing win comes down to a tale as old as time:
During the 49ers’ winning run against the Seahawks, Seattle’s turnover differential is a pitiful -7. Jordyn Brooks’ pick-6 is the only takeaway Seattle has managed, and the Seahawks’ normally solid special teams have given it away twice on botched punt returns. Geno Smith has turned it over four times.
San Francisco’s record when they have no more than one giveaway is almost perfect. The post below was written before the Philadelphia Eagles game, so the record should be 24-1, but you get the general idea of how dominant the 49ers are when they play clean football.
49ers since 2022— Scott Kacsmar (@ScottKacsmar) November 30, 2023
23-1 with 0-1 giveaways
0-7 with 2+ giveaways
That one loss was against the Cleveland Browns, which would’ve been a win had Jake Moody not hooked his game-winning field goal wide right.
If we extend this out to 2021, the 49ers are 34-3 with 0-1 turnovers and 2-13 with 2+ turnovers. It’s really that simple! This stat also does not necessarily mean they lost the turnover battle. In the Seahawks’ most recent win over the 49ers back in December 2021, both teams had a trio of turnovers, but Gerald Everett ran out of time to personally break the tie.
This is easier said than done, but it’s not impossible. The Seahawks have forced 15 turnovers on the season, which is tied for 19th and not anything exceptional. Brock Purdy has thrown just six interceptions and the Seahawks have only eight (one of them off of Purdy, in fairness).
If fumble recovery is generally luck-based, forcing fumbles can be a skill. Seattle has forced only nine fumbles but they’ve recovered seven, which is a high ratio but also not indicative of a team that’s great at stripping the ball free. Tre Brown and Uchenna Nwosu are the only players with multiple FFs, and we know Nwosu isn’t adding to his total.
Seattle’s defense has no choice but to gamble. Go for interceptions, try and punch the ball out, do anything to spark some life into a struggling unit. We know it’ll be hard against the 49ers, and it’s even harder to take the ball away if Niners players are wide open by 10 yards. I’d rather gamble and go bust than watch this defense go on a weekly parade of “limiting” 50-yard plays only to get crushed by an avalanche of 10-29 yard throws where the only “win” is that it wasn’t a touchdown.
Sometimes, you might just hit the jackpot.