Moore: Ignore 49ers’ record — this will be an important, and close, game for Seahawks
Most of the focus this week has been on the return of Richard Sherman, but the outcome of the game between the 49ers and the Seahawks is more important than whether the former All-Pro cornerback gets burned by Russell Wilson and his receivers.
Even if it happens, Sherman will blame someone else if he gets beat, just like he did last week in a loss at Tampa Bay. He’s never wrong. It’s never his fault. He’s the smartest guy in the room. As his athletic ability declines, those things will never change.
If nothing else, Sherman’s return adds zip to a game that would lack headline material otherwise, even if it’s extremely important to the Seahawks. This starts a five-game stretch to the end of the season in which the Seahawks will be heavy favorites in three games (two against San Francisco, one against Arizona), slight favorites perhaps (over Minnesota) and underdogs against the Chiefs.
It’s not inconceivable to think they could finish 10-6, and 9-7 is certainly possible for this 6-5 team now. For most of the season, I’ve been thinking it would be great if they could “sneak” into the playoffs by getting the final wild-card spot. But at this point, it’s worth rooting for the No. 5 wild-card spot because it would most likely give the Seahawks a first-round game against the NFC East champion.
Right now the Rams and Saints would get first-round byes as the No. 1 and 2 seeds. At 8-3, Chicago is the best bet to be the No. 3 seed, which would put them against the No. 6 wild-card team. It would likely be a tougher matchup than one against the NFC East champ.
Then again, after Dallas shut down the high-powered Saints 13-10 Thursday night, maybe you don’t want a piece of the rejuvenated Cowboys (7-5) should they win the NFC East. I’d still take my chances against a Dallas team you beat 24-13 in September in Seattle over a Chicago team you lost to 24-17 the week before at Soldier Field.
Point being, it all lays out nicely for the Seahawks now after they successfully negotiated a five-game stretch against some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, going 3-2.
After the 49ers got throttled by Tampa Bay 27-9 last week, it’s hard to picture them beating the Seahawks as 10-point underdogs. It’s hard to fathom how the Niners could score only nine points against one of the worst defenses in the league. San Francisco is down to its third-string quarterback and possesses a -17 turnover differential. Their defense has come up with only two interceptions all year.
If I were Pete Carroll, I’d show my players the tape from San Francisco’s game at Green Bay last month. The 49ers led by 10 points in the fourth quarter only to lose by three, one of Aaron Rodgers’ latest comeback victims. So if they had a double-digit lead at Green Bay, they’re not quite as bad as their 2-9 record suggests.
If I’m the Seahawks, I’m loading the box and trying to do whatever I could to stop Matt Breida, the second-year running back who has racked up 738 rushing yards, averaging 5.8 yards a carry. The Seahawks are last in the league, allowing 5.3 yards per carry. I don’t know what the issues are — everyone says they’re easily fixable, but we’re 11 games in, so easily fixable sounds more like un-fixable to me now.
That’s the Niners’ best hope, relying on Breida to set up make-able 3rd-down situations for quarterback Nick Mullens, who mismanages games as much as he manages them.
I don’t see the 49ers pulling off the upset, but I’m guessing it will be close to the finish. The Seahawks rarely get blown out, but they don’t blow anyone out either. Seahawks 24, 49ers 20