Seahawks’ potential difference-maker vs 49ers: Their big play ability
The Seahawks could very likely have a new weapon in their offense when they take on the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in the form of wide receiver Josh Gordon.
With a muscular build on a 6-foot-3 frame and above-average speed, Gordon could make an immediate impact in his Seattle debut against an undefeated 49ers team that owns the best defense in the league, allowing a league-low 241 yards of total offense per game this season. But don’t count on Gordon jumping right into a starring role for the Seahawks.
“He is definitely a difficult wrinkle to last minute throw into a game plan,” 710 ESPN Seattle’s Paul Gallant said of Gordon on Monday’s edition of Danny and Gallant.
Added Gallant’s co-host, Danny O’Neil: “I think Josh might catch one or two passes. I think he’ll be an afterthought in this game.”
But here’s the thing: With or without Gordon, the Seahawks possess some serious big play ability in their top two receivers, Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. And their speed and aptitude for coming up with big catches on long passes from Russell Wilson may be what allows Seattle to beat San Francisco’s tough defense.
“It seems really strange to say that Seattle’s receivers are one of the keys to this game because I never feel that way,” O’Neil said. “I feel that Seattle has great receivers and I feel that they have a quarterback that makes the most of those opportunities. … The ability to have big plays downfield are the potential difference-maker in this game. … If Seattle has the ability to find time to go deep, I think there are questions about the speed at the back end of that (49ers) secondary.”
Those questions about speed could open things up for Lockett, who enters Monday’s game ranked seventh in the NFL with 767 receiving yards, and rookie Metcalf, whose 525 receiving yards are 34th in the league.
“When you have the kind of deep threats that Seattle has – Tyler Lockett is following up on what was an unbelievably productive season a year ago with an even better season, which I didn’t think was possible. And it’s not just the stats or the size of the stats, it’s how effective he is at the opportunities that he gets,” O’Neil said. “He goes downfield, he makes big catches, the average per reception (13 yards) shows you he’s a big play threat who’s incredibly efficient at catching balls that go his way. And then you add Metcalf to it, it’s a big play group. They specialize in going deep, and I think that lines up, if – and it’s a huge if – Russell has time in the pocket, there are huge opportunities downfield.”
Dealing with more than 49ers’ secondary
That big ‘if’ that O’Neil alluded to is San Francisco’s pass rush, which is as important a reason as any for the team leading the NFL in total defense. While Wilson and the Seahawks have the receivers that can get open downfield, they need time in the pocket to throw to those players, and that’s going to be extra tough against the 49ers’ defensive line.
“I don’t think he’s going to have that time (to throw),” Gallant said of Wilson. “I think it’s going to be really difficult for him to get more than three, four seconds (to pass in the pocket). If (San Francisco) had just one elite pass rusher, OK, I feel good. And Nick Bosa’s a young player, maybe you can think of a way to game plan against him. But you also have DeForest Buckner, who’s another former top 10 pick who I think is just as good.”
The advantage the Seahawks may have would be Wilson, who is plenty experienced at making plays under pressure.
“Here’s the one thing I’ll say about Seattle’s offense. Because it’s not a volume passing game, the pass rush won’t disrupt their passing game in the same way it would the Saints or Peyton Manning when he was with the Colts,” O’Neil said. “… The danger is if Seattle gets held to 17, 20 points and really isn’t able to have any big plays, I don’t think they have a defense to make that hold up anymore. But I think Seattle is going to be able to have some big plays down the field. I think that’s going to happen because their offense is not necessarily completely neutralized if Russell can’t get protection because Russell hasn’t had protection I would say for the bulk of his eight seasons in the NFL. He’s used to running for his life, Paul. He’s accustomed to it. This is right in his wheelhouse.”
You can listen to the full segment from Danny and Gallant in this podcast, beginning around the 35:45 mark.
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