The 49ers are coming off a tough week 1 23-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers at Levis Stadium. The offense looked lost at times and struggled to block the Panther defensive front. The task doesn't get any easier for the team in week 2. They will be traveling to Seattle to take on the division rival Seahawks. The 49ers have lost 7 games in a row to the Seahawks and will try to get their first win in Seattle since 2011. Seahawks have been one of the best teams in the NFL for the last 5 years, and have had the 49ers number the last 3 or 4 seasons. I take a look at key areas for the 49ers to go into Seattle and get HC Kyle Shanahan his 1st win as an NFL Head Coach.
49ers' offensive line
The offensive line for the 49ers was the biggest issue for the team in the week 1 loss to the Panthers. Guard play especially was the undoing of the team. G Zane Beadles was routinely beaten by the Panthers defensive tackles throughout the game. Kyle Shanahan stated that there will be compition at this spot during the week leading into Sunday’s game. If the 49ers are going to have a chance at beating the Seahawks they are going to need to keep QB Brian Hoyer upright. Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the NFL and have a lot of talent on the defensive line. The 49ers offensive line is going to have to be a lot better this week if the team is going to come out of Seattle with a victory.
Get RB Carlos Hyde the ball
Carlos Hyde was on the field for 45 of the 57 offensive snaps in week 1. He is clearly the 49ers lead back. Hyde needs to get the ball early and often in Seattle. Hyde only had 9 rushing attempts in week 1. That number needs to double this Sunday. Kyle Shanahan ran the ball early in the 1st quarter last week with success, then seemed to get away from it as the game went on. Shanahan relied on play action passing and did get Hyde involved out of the backfield. Tough to rely on play action when you havek gone away from the run. Look for Hyde to get the ball a lot more in week 2.
Quick throws early
The 49ers offense is a rhythm offense. Look for Kyle Shanahan to have the 1st few drives involve a lot of quick throws to WR Pierre Garcon and TE George Kittle. With check downs to the backs in space. Brian Hoyer has shown that he can get into a rhythm and have success with 3 and 5 step drops to crossing WRs in the middle of the field. The 49ers need to get the Seahawks on their heels and neutralize that tough Seahawks defensive front using quick passes and crisp routes by the WRs. Young rookie slot WR Trent Taylor has shown that he belongs in the NFL and should be involved in a few more plays this week. He seems to catch everything that his thrown his way.
Get TE George Kittle involved
Rookie TE George Kittle played 54 of the 49ers 57 snaps in week 1. That’s an impressive number for a rookie TE. He is clearly the teams number 1 TE and will be moving forward. TEs have had success against the Seahawks defense in the past. Kyle Shanahan is going to look for ways to get Kittle involved in the passing game to free up the middle of the field for run plays. I look for Kittle to have a good game on Sunday, and to be a difficult player for the Seahawks defense to match up with.
Hit QB Russell Wilson early and often
Seahawks offensive line was terrible in week 1 at Lambeau field in Green Bay. The Packers defensive front was all over Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who had a rough day because of the pressure. 49ers have a lot of draft capital invested in the defensive line and that is going to need to start paying off. DL DeForest Buckner, DL Arik Armstead and DL Solomon Thomas will abuse the Seahawks shaky offensive line. The Team was getting pressure on Panthers QB Cam Newton, but just couldn’t finish. The 49ers had no sacks in week 1 and will look to change that this weekend.
Stop the run
The 49ers were the worst defense against the run in the NFL last season. Last week the team gave up a total of 116 yards and the longest run the Panthers had on the day was 11 yards. So far this defense looks to be much improved against the run. The Seahawks are a run 1st team and will look to run the ball early and use play action to their advantage later in the game. 49ers defense will need to be disciplined in the run game to keep the Seahawks RBs in check.
Mistake free football
In week 1 the 49ers had 10 penalties for 74 yards. Rookie HC Kyle Shanahan is going to have to get his young team to minimize the penalties. The team had to many self-inflicted wounds against the Panthers and it cost them on multiple drives. A team the caliber of the Seahawks will make a young team like the 49ers pay for every mistake. The team can't afford to give the Seahawks free yards on pre snap penalties.
Stop the Seahawks big plays
Big plays are a big part of the Seahawks offense. Russell Wilson has a knack for finding his WRs down field after he has rolled away from pressure. He's one of the most accurate QBs throwing downfield on the move. Every time the 49ers play the Seahawks it seems like Wilson finds a WR down the field once or twice a game for a 30 plus yard play. The 49ers young secondary will need to be disciplined in coverage.
This Sunday’s game is going to be a big test for this young 49ers team. They are coming off a 20 point loss at home and are 13 point underdogs on the road in one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan will look to learn from some of his mistakes in week one and play a little more conservatively in a hostile environment on the road.