STACY ROST

Seahawks veteran shares keys to slowing down 49ers offense

Dec 8, 2023, 11:08 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers against the Seattle Seahawks on Nov. 23, 2023. (Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks have a tough task at hand this Sunday, but one Seattle defender explained the keys to finding success against a team like the San Francisco 49ers (spoiler: it’s not easy).

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The 49ers are leading the NFL in EPA/play (0.186) and are third in points per game (29.3) behind only Dallas and Miami. That’s in no small part thanks to a bevy of offense weapons and some brilliant coordination. Misdirection and movement have been big parts of that – and players like Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey have been the beneficiaries of defensive confusion.

So, what’s the key to sound defense against these guys? Seahawks pass rusher Frank Clark, who’s played the 49ers plenty over his career, explained it bluntly: When a team does something well, they’re going to find a way to make it work against you.

“They’re very good (at misdirection),” Clark told The Huddle Thursday. “And normally when you’re good at something you tend to work it. Just like the Eagles and the (quarterback sneak). They’re the best team at it. I don’t see San Fran going away from it any time soon.”

Well, that’s not encouraging. But the 49ers haven’t been perfect all season long. So how have some defenses found success against them?

“You notice the teams that do have success against them play them more aggressive,” Clark said. “They play them straight up, they’re takin’ the fight to them. They’re not allowing the misdirection to get them off their game. It is a hard thing to do as a football player because you want to make the play. You see it and you want to go attack it. But as an offensive player, you already know that’s what you want us to do. I think it’s eye discipline, playing with key discipline, understanding your man, understanding your job.”

Clark further explained that remaining gap sound and limiting mistakes (including penalties) is key.

The Seahawks desperately need a win. They’re in the midst of a three-game losing streak and facing the possibility of four losses in a row should they fall to the 49ers. That’s never happened under Pete Carroll.

Losing streaks can be tough. What does a locker room dynamic become like?

“It’s difficult when you lose,” Clark said. “Because you lose as a team, you don’t lose individually. I think a lot of guys see it as an individual loss when they’re not successful or they don’t attain a stat they’ve been out there chasing. But it’s not really an individual loss. Guys gotta understand it’s a team loss. It’s something we didn’t do as a team, which is why we ended up in this position. And I’ve always said a loss involves coaches and players. It’s not just a guy who might have a penalty late in the game or a guy who might not have been available. No; it’s a team game. That’s why football is so wonderful because you’ve got to count on 11 guys… there’s a lot of factors that go into that through a week of preparation… You’re going through the week just trying to be as normal as you can, compete at the highest level you can, and hope that when you get to that game on Sunday that everything falls into place.

“Sometimes that don’t happen. And I feel like that’s what happened to us last week. It’s kind of been happening to us on this stretch; a lot of figuring out. But I feel like once you figure it out, you do figure it out, and that’s where you can get the ball going.”

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Bumpus: How Seattle Seahawks should use Bryant over Adams
• Huard: ‘Heat is on everybody’ to get Seattle Seahawks’ defense on track
• Rost: Reality is Seahawks have no choice but to be a playoff team
• Bumpus: How DK Metcalf had big game for Seahawks in Dallas
Huard: Seahawks’ defense ‘on its heels’ and has ‘significant’ issues

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