The Seahawks kick off their intradivision games in week four versus the San Francisco 49ers. Here is what to look for when the teams face off.
First off, the 49ers are surely going to look a little different this season than they did last. San Francisco was decimated with injuries in 2020 and a shell of themselves in 2019 when they made the Super Bowl.
Still, even while extremely talented in 2019, the Seahawks had a chance to win the NFC West except for a late stop at the goal line by the 49ers. Seattle is good enough to play and beat the 2019 49ers so the 2021 49ers, if healthy, are not unbeatable.
Seahawks versus 49ers could be a preview of the top two teams in NFC West
49ers key additions: Quarterback Trey Lance (2021 NFL draft pick), center Alex Mack, edge rusher Samson Ebukam
In week four (and likely later in the season too), Seattle will probably not face Lance. Lance is a raw rookie not yet ready to start in the NFL. But Seattle could see him for a few snaps and Lance’s athletic ability could be troublesome.
Mack and Ebykam are solid veterans who won’t be Pro Bowlers most likely in 2021 but will still be good additions. San Francisco also signed edge rusher Arden Key and receiver Mohamed Sanu and they might both fit better with the 49ers than former teams.
49ers key losses: Defensive end Kerry Hyder, cornerback Richard Sherman (still unsigned), defensive lineman Solomon Thomas
Hyder signed with the Seahawks, of course, and that is very good news if he plays to his potential. Hyder will be among the rotation of pass rushers for Seattle so he should be fresh when he gets on the field. He can also line up inside at tackle.
Sherman might still end up with the 49ers but it’s looking less and less likely and losing him and Ahkello Witherspoon (another Seahawks signing) makes the cornerback situation in San Francisco a bit unknown.
Seahawks advantages in week 4: Russell Wilson and his receivers, Seattle safeties
San Francisco will have a better pass rush in 2021 but Seattle’s skill at receiver and tight end should still make for some splash plays against the 49ers. D.K. Metcalf had 161 yards receiving in week 7 last year against the 49ers and then didn’t do as well in the last game of the year when the whole Seattle offense was grinding to a stop.
But the addition of Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator who worked with the Rams and knows the 49ers and tight end Gerald Everett should help out Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Seahawks disadvantages in week 4: Stopping the run game
The 49ers are really good at running the ball and coach Kyle Shanahan is a near-genius on how to scheme a run game. When the 49ers made the Super Bowl run in 2019, they didn’t throw the ball in the playoffs, they ran it. This controlled clock and scored points. Seattle’s run defense might be in question in 2021 and Shanahan will try to take advantage of that.