JOE FANN

Fann: Wild Card weather forecast could aid Seahawks’ chances vs 49ers

Jan 12, 2023, 2:28 PM
Seahawks McCaffrey...
49ers RB Christian McCaffrey carries the ball against the Seahawks at Lumen Field on Dec. 15, 2022. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Mast/Getty Images)

I wrote on Tuesday about how I think the Seahawks are going to get boat-raced this Saturday against the 49ers in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.

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And while I still believe that’s the likely outcome at Levi’s Stadium, the current weather forecast adds a wrinkle to the matchup that could aid Seattle’s chances of pulling off the seismic upset as 10-point underdogs.

Northern California has been hit hard by storms all week, and as NFL Network’s Andrew Network’s Andrew Siciliano pointed out, the weather is expected to remain grim on Saturday with the potential for heavy rainfall and 20 mph winds.

In a matchup that features such a comprehensive talent gap, any added variable could theoretically level the playing field to a certain degree. But before I dive into why inclement weather might benefit Seattle, it’s worth noting that San Francisco could stand to gain as well.

A few of San Francisco’s most-pronounced strengths are in the trenches on both sides of the football. The 49ers rank second in rushing yards allowed defensively (Seattle’s offense ranks 18th in rushing) and eighth in rushing yards on offense (Seattle’s defense ranks 30th in rushing yards allowed). Poor weather could accentuate those edges. That’s before mentioning high-speed winds could limit Seattle’s attempt to expose San Francisco’s 20th-ranked passing defense (arguably the team’s biggest weakness).

The good news for the Seahawks is that sloppy conditions would limit the 49ers’ immense advantage in overall team speed. Their offense excels with Kyle Shanahan scheming players open and setting up his playmakers in the open field. San Francisco ranked sixth in total yards after the catch (2,192 yards) during the regular season.

That was on display in San Francisco’s Week 15 win at Lumen Field where both of George Kittle’s touchdowns (of 28 and 54 yards, respectively) were YAC-heavy, as was a 28-yard reception by fellow tight end Tyler Kroft.

Defensively, Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw’s sideline-to-sideline playmaking ability and Nick Bosa’s elite first step could be neutralized some by a muddy playing surface. All three of those players dominated in Week 15 with a collective 18 tackles, one sack, three quarterback hits, three passes defended and one forced fumble.

Finally – and arguably most importantly – Seattle desperately needs to win the turnover battle in order to have a chance on Saturday, and the current forecast could help them get there. Fluky fumbles, botched snaps, muffed punts, drops, tipped balls, blocked kicks, etc. (you see where I’m going with this) all become more possible in heavy rain and wind.

The Seahawks have become known for winning bizarre games in the Pete Carroll era, and they should welcome maximum chaos on Saturday.

This entire conversation might be moot should the weather shift for the better come kickoff. However, if Seahawks fans are looking for sources of optimism and avenues for an upset, this might be the most realistic.

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Fann: Wild Card weather forecast could aid Seahawks’ chances vs 49ers