By Jim Moore
The Seahawks and 49ers have a lot in common, as you know:
• They’re both in the NFC West.
• They both have 4-2 records.
• They both have quarterbacks who are criticized from time to time.
• They’re both built around their running games and defense.
To me, they look to be comparable talent-wise on both sides of the ball. Maybe I’m missing something – and in my case it’s usually a lot of things – but I see a Seattle team that might be better equipped on both sides of the ball than the 49ers.
Wouldn’t you rather have Russell Wilson than Alex Smith? (Ron Jaworski told “Brock and Salk” that he wouldn’t, but John Clayton would.)
Wouldn’t you rather have the Seahawks’ defense than the 49ers’ defense? I would. The Seahawks’ defense is younger and on the rise and might be better than the 49ers’ defense already.
The vaunted 49ers, who had 42 sacks last year, are on a pace for 24 this year. They went from sacking Eli Manning six times and hitting him 12 times in the NFC Championship game last year to hitting him once and recording no sacks in Sunday’s 26-3 loss to the Giants. Justin Smith has no sacks this season.
Though their defense is No. 1 overall, the 49ers are more susceptible to a rushing attack than the Seahawks; San Francisco is ninth in the NFL in run defense, allowing 92.7 yards a game while the Seahawks are No. 2 at 70 yards.
So if you go by the numbers, Marshawn Lynch should have a bigger game on the ground than Frank Gore. I say this realizing that Gore has killed the Hawks in the past; in 12 games against Seattle, Gore has rushed for 1,079 yards, including two games in which he ran for more than 200 yards. (I lifted these stats from Eric Williams’ Seahawks blog in the Tacoma News Tribune.)
Lynch will get at least 20 carries against the 49ers because Wilson won’t be throwing downfield as much as he did against the Patriots in that shockingly terrific 24-23 win on Sunday.
The 49ers have not lost two consecutive games since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach last season. (AP)
As much as coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have loosened their grip on Wilson the past two weeks, I have a feeling the screws will be tightened again this week. The 49ers’ secondary is not nearly as vulnerable as the Panthers’ and Patriots’; San Francisco is second in the league in pass defense, allowing 183.2 yards a game.
I’m hoping the Hawks run some screen plays on Thursday, guessing that the Niners will do everything they can to get their pass rush going. I say suck ’em in and flip it over the top to Lynch for big gainers.
I also think we’ll see Wilson scrambling more than ever before. I’m ready for some RG3-like runs in the open field when he gets to the yellow line and keeps zig-zagging his way toward the end zone. He’s smart enough to avoid big hits and potential injuries.
If Carroll asked me for advice, I’d tell him to run a quarterback draw or two and try some draws with Lynch and Robert Turbin as well.
If you’ve been following my Seahawks prediction columns on 710Sports.com, you know that I’m 5-1 against the spread, correctly picking every Seattle game but the Monday nighter against Green Bay.
If you haven’t been following these prediction posts, where the heck have you been? I’m trying to make money for you so you can quit your job and join me for a round of golf at Trophy Lake, where I’m writing this column right now.
I can’t understand why the 49ers are favored by eight points – maybe three, but not eight.
I was prepared to take the Seahawks straight up until I read Larry Stone’s story in The Seattle Times Wednesday morning. Stone told us that in the Jim Harbaugh era, the 49ers have lost five regular-season games, including Sunday to the Giants. After the four previous losses, they bounced back in a big way, going 4-0, winning by a combined score of 93-11 while forcing 14 turnovers and not allowing a touchdown.
That’s obviously ominous stuff.
As a result, for the first time this year, I’m going halfway with the pick, taking the Niners to win but the Hawks to cover the eight-point spread in a low-scoring game.
My prediction: 49ers 13, Seahawks 9