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Seahawks-49ers preview: Seattle looking to steal a win and stay alive

A once promising season has quickly turned south for the Seahawks, who would drop below .500 for the first time since losing to the Rams in Week 1.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday at Levi’s Stadium the Seattle Seahawks will face off against division rival San Francisco 49ers for the second time in three weeks, though the stakes for this matchup are far lower than they were the first time around. When these two teams met on Thanksgiving it was effectively a winner take all matchup, as the winner of the showdown between the 6-4 Hawks and the 7-3 Niners would hold first place in the NFC West. San Francisco scored on the opening possession of the game, never trailed and handily defeated Seattle 31-13 and opening a two game cushion atop the division.

On the heels of that game both teams then hit to road to take on an NFC East opponent. The Seahawks saw their cold streak continue, losing 41-35 to the Dallas Cowboys in a game that featured no punts from either team and handed Seattle its third consecutive loss. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia the 49ers steamrolled the NFC leading Philadelphia Eagles 42-19 and setting up a rematch between the two teams in Week 14 with much less at stake, and the 49ers coming in heavily favored. As of publication, DraftKings Sportsbook has the Niners favored by a hair under two touchdowns, after opening as double digit favorites when the Week 14 lines were released.

A victory by the Niners over the Seahawks this time around could potentially give San Francisco a four-game lead in the NFC West with four weeks left to play in the season. They currently sport a three game lead over the Hawks and Los Angeles Rams, with the Rams officially holding second place in the division thanks to the season sweep by Sean McVay and company of the Hawks. That could change by the time the Hawks and Niners face off in the late slot, as the Rams play the Baltimore Ravens in an early game.

With all that in mind, the big question Sunday could be whether Seattle starting quarterback Geno Smith will be able to go or not. Geno has started every game for the Hawks since Russell Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos after the 2021 season, but Smith is listed as questionable with groin and elbow injuries. That could open the door for fans to see Drew Lock under center to start for the first time since he was acquired as part of the trade that sent Wilson to Denver and brought Lock, Noah Fant and Shelby Harris to the Seahawks. How much success Lock might have in what would be his first start since the 2021 season finale is anyone’s guess, but facing off against one of the best defensive units in the NFL would certainly be a challenge.

The 49ers defense has stymied the Seahawks offense in each of the past two seasons, with San Francisco outscoring Seattle 120-56 in the four games, with the Seattle defense and special teams accounting for a quarter of the points scored by the Hawks. If not for a special teams touchdown by Mike Jackson in the 27-7 loss in Week 2 of the 2022 season and a defensive touchdown on an interception return by Jordyn Brooks in the 31-13 loss on Thanksgiving, the Seahawks would have been held without a touchdown in both games.

Thus, winning and keeping their playoff hopes alive will be a tall task for the Seahawks regardless of who is under center, and it could fall to backup Drew Lock to keep faint postseason hopes alive for Seattle. That will be no small ask against a defense that is second in the NFL in points allowed and leads the league in quarterback hits, while the young and inexperienced offensive line of the Hawks has struggled to protect, particularly in passing situations.

In short, it could be a long day for whoever is under center for the Seahawks, whether that’s Geno Smith, Drew Lock or the recently signed Sean Mannion who has been elevated from the practice squad for the matchup. But, whichever of the quarterbacks gets the starting nod, they will not just be looking to keep the postseason hopes alive for Seattle, they will be looking to help Pete Carroll avoid losing four games in a row for the first time in his tenure with the Seahawks.