Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann
Remember last season when the 49ers went 3-13 and had no defense? Remember during training camp when Jimmy Garoppolo threw five straight interceptions and made national headlines? Remember when second-overall pick Nick Bosa had his ankle crushed by a 300-pound lineman? Remember when everyone said going into Week 10 the 49ers would be undefeated? You don’t remember that last one because it never happened. Now, personally I thought they had an 8-8 floor and they are about to surpass that with no issues.
I know people want to talk about the 49ers’ schedule and the lack of talent they have faced this season. But here’s the deal: you can only play who is on your schedule, and it’s how you show up in those games that matter. When the 49ers played teams like the Bengals and Browns, they rolled right over them on both sides of the ball. This is what great teams do, they destroy bad teams. When the 49ers went into Washington they had to deal with the monsoon that hit, the great equalizer, they won. Bad teams lose in conditions like that and good teams win.
With each week that passes by with the 49ers winning, the more you hate to see it end. This Monday they face probably their toughest opponent of the season and one they know too well, the Seahawks. How can the 49ers stay undefeated against Seattle?
One thing in the 49ers’ favor is that this game will be played in Santa Clara. While the 49ers have played great on the road, you can’t discount the homefield advantage. Last Thursday the 49ers played on a short week and the Cardinals made a commitment to stopping the run. When that happened, Jimmy Garoppolo played lights-out and looked every bit the part of a franchise quarterback, throwing for over 300 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Seattle’s defense is not what it used to be, so the handsome one throwing up stats like that again should not be an issue. In fact, Seahawks have given up over 300 yards passing four times and allowed at least 28 points five times.
The 49ers are set up to get both starting tackles and the offensive swiss army knife Kyle Juszczyk back. Add that to Emmanuel Sanders, who is balling out, and this offense is ready to roll. And this game may come down to how good the offense plays because on the other side is everyone’s MVP pick, Russell Wilson.
Against both the Browns and the Buccaneers, the Seahawks were down by at least two scores and in both games, Wilson led them to victories. He may be a Seahawk and you may hate him, but you have to respect Wilson for what he can do on the field.
The defense can take some pressure off Garoppolo as they have done all season, but it won’t be easy. One nice stat for the 49ers is how much they rush the quarterback with only four players and don’t blitz. Russell Wilson was blitzed on 76 percent of his snaps, according to Next Gen Stats. On those dropbacks Wilson completed 19 of his 32 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. For context the 49ers have only blitzed 15.5 percent of the time this season.
You can argue the Bucs’ defensive game plan was their downfall and it’s not in the 49ers’ blueprint to make the same mistake. They have been getting pressure on the quarterback with just the defensive line. They are going to have to play better than they did against the Cardinals in order to beat the Seahawks. But you can give the defense a mulligan on the road, versus a division rival and on a short week.
Now they are playing at home, extended time off but against another divisional rival. It won’t be easy, but it hasn’t all been easy in 2019 and yet they have overcome adversity and currently sit as the only undefeated team this season.
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