Clayton: Seahawks facing tough task in biggest game in quite some time

Dec 27, 2019, 5:26 PM | Updated: 5:30 pm
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch...
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch returns to action in a tough game against the 49ers. (Getty)

Desperate times call for desperate moves.

Seahawks’ Pete Carroll explains how Marshawn Lynch returned to Seattle

After losing their top three running backs in three weeks, the Seahawks brought back a retired Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, who hasn’t played in 14 months. What a blast from the past. Both were members of the 2013 Super Bowl team. Turbin is Russell Wilson’s best friend.

And Lynch is Beast Mode. His return has energized the locker room, caused better practices and will excite the Seahawks fans when Lynch goes on the field Sunday.

Can it work? Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers is the biggest Seahawks game in a couple of years. If the Seahawks pull off the win despite their problems, they win the NFC West and get the No. 3 seed, most likely set to play the Minnesota Vikings.

If the Seahawks lose, they would be the No. 5 seed and would most likely have to travel to Philadelphia.

With so much on the line, let’s study this game.

• For weeks, the San Francisco 49ers were the team battling the most problems with injuries. There were times they were down eight to 10 players, particularly on defense. Over the past couple of weeks, they have gotten healthier. Richard Sherman missed only one game with a hamstring injury. George Kittle missed the Seahawks game a couple weeks ago, but he is back.

The Seahawks got a break in the past couple of days. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will play despite a core injury that has forced him to miss all but two games since the first 49ers game. Shaquill Griffin is back at cornerback after missing two games with a hamstring injury. Mychal Kendricks will play his second game since recovering from a hamstring injury.

Two big missing parts are free safety Quandre Diggs and left tackle Duane Brown.

• Pete Carroll has to decide whether he wants to pound the ball with running backs or go into a quick passing offense. A quick passing offense might be an option to continue. The offensive is banged up and is coming of a horrible pass blocking game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The first decision is whether to start George Fant instead Jamarco Jones at left tackle. Jones struggled last week with Chandler Jones, who had four sacks and two forced fumbles.

The interior of the line is banged up but has stayed on the field. Most fans and experts thought it would be hard for D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati to play more than 10 games, but they have been in the 13- to 14-game mode this season.

• The defense faces two big challenges stopping the 49ers running attack and containing tight end George Kittle. Kittle is a monster for defenses to stop. Not only is he great catching the ball but he’s the best tight end for breaking tackles after the catch.

The Seahawks are the second worst defense for stopping tight ends. They have caught 90 passes for 1,013 yards and six touchdowns. It would have helped if Diggs were back, but the Seahawks have to find a way to limit completions and big plays at tight end.

• The Seahawks have to find a way to get to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In the first meeting in San Francisco, Garoppolo made mistakes when he was pressured. In that game, the Seahawks were able to get a four-man pass rush. A four-man rush has been missing most of the season.

Garoppolo is good, though. He’s completing 68.5 percent of his passes and has 27 touchdown passes. Putting pressure on him is the key.

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