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Last week, I broke down how the Carolina Panthers might beat the San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers just didn’t pull it off and replicate what they accomplished in their Week 10 meeting between the two teams.
That doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t sound.
The problem, of course, was that the Panthers couldn’t hold up coverage on Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin all at once.
They focused on Crabtree, and the result was a huge game by Boldin.
Niners Nation at SBNation did an excellent All-22 breakdown of Boldin’s game and how the focus on everyone else led to his breakout.
As pointed out in the article, part of the problem was that the Panthers did not have enough bodies to contain all of the moving parts of the 49ers. The other breakdown was a staggering lack of hits on quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Panthers notched just one sack on Kaepernick, though they did get six quarterback hits—most of them coming on Kaepernick scrambles. They never broke Kaepernick’s rhythm, as they had in Week 10, and allowed him too much time to make choices, as well as too much room to hit his primary reads.
If the Seahawks are going to shut this offense down, they need to do better than that.
They have to hit the receivers coming off the line to disrupt the timing between Kaepernick and his receivers while getting into the backfield to hit the quarterback as often as possible.
It’s then a matter of containing Kaepernick when he runs, which means Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas will be pulling a lot of duty in run support.
It’s also going to require that the Seattle safeties make quick decisions. Do they move to help cover a receiver or spy Kaepernick? When do they release from coverage to step up and contain Kaepernick when he looks to run?
If the front seven can hit Kaepernick while cornerback Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner do their usual job of hand-checking and hacking receivers, the Seahawks should be able to contain the Niners' potent passing offense and avoid having to have Chancellor and Thomas make those choices too often.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.