STACY ROST

Rost: 3 things we learned ahead of Seahawks’ matchup with 49ers

Sep 16, 2022, 4:44 PM
Seahawks 49ers...
Trey Lance #5 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi's Stadium on October 03, 2021. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Seahawks will get running back Ken Walker III and left guard Damien Lewis back for a Week 2 matchup against the 49ers, and will also see Josh Jones start in place of Jamal Adams at safety.

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But that’s not all we learned. Here are three interesting nuggets from this week’s The Huddle on Seattle Sports Station.

Tariq Woolen needed a creative way to make it through the crowd noise

Lumen Field, already a notoriously raucous stadium, was especially loud Monday night. That’s to the surprise of nobody; fans were well prepared and responding both to the return of Russell Wilson, but also to a primetime environment in which their team was an underdog at home. The roar during Denver’s final missed field goal, deafening on the field, vibrated even through the mostly-insulated press box.

It also meant it was nearly impossible for the Seahawks’ defensive players to hear one another on the field. That’s not a new challenge for defenders, but it does put a bit more pressure on a rookie like cornerback Tariq Woolen.

Thankfully, Woolen got a little help from outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, who earned an NFC Defensive Player of the Week nod for his play Monday.

“I remember on the first play of the defensive drive they had called a play and I was in the huddle and I’m like, huh? I tried to put my ear inside (the huddle). Because the D-line is in there and the secondary is on the outside… in the game, you’re looking at him and you think he’s just mumbling or his mouth is moving but no noise is coming out,” he said. “After that first series, that kind of went out the window a little bit because I just made sure Uchenna just echoed it to me because he was closer to me, so I (would) just ask him if I didn’t hear it in the huddle.”

The 49ers’ defense is still really good, but not without flaws

San Francisco’s defense boasts one of the best edge rushers in the game in Nick Bosa, who racked up 15.5 sacks last season, and All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner. Last year the 49ers ranked as the No. 3 overall defense in yards allowed, behind only the Bills and Panthers. They were a top-10 pass defense and rush defense, and racked up 48 sacks as a team. Much of the same unit returns in 2022, with just three new starters.

But they can also hurt themselves: they were the third-most penalized team last year in terms of yards. They had 12 last week against Chicago.

“The fixable thing is those penalties,” ESPN’s Nick Wagoner told The Huddle. “You would like to think. But I say that with the caveat of this has been a little bit of an issue for this team in recent years, so maybe it won’t go away as easily.”

The Seahawks still have questions at run defense, and the 49ers have questions on the OL

The Seahawks defense limited the Broncos to a single touchdown Monday night in a performance that included two goal-line forced fumbles. Their plan worked for a Wilson-led offense that had twice as many passing attempts (42) as Seattle. But it also left them susceptible to the run. Broncos running back Javonte Williams got just seven carries, but averaged 6.1 yards per attempt. They’ll face a wholly different test against Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, a team that finished seventh in rushing yards last season.

On the other side, the 49ers’ offensive line will have a challenge of its own.

“Their offensive line has three new starters,” Wagoner said of the 49ers’ O-line. “They have Mike McGlinchey, their right tackle, who’s coming off of a serious quad injury. That’s four question marks next to the best left tackle in football in Trent Williams. You combine that with an inexperienced quarterback in Trey Lance, and that’s a tough thing to solve.”

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