3 Bold Predictions for 49ers in 2022 NFL Playoff Matchup vs. Seahawks
The San Francisco 49ers are widely expected to cruise past the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL wild-card round.
San Francisco owns two wins over its NFC West rival and has the better team on paper.
However, there could be a few flaws that the Seahawks expose to keep the game relatively close inside Levi's Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Seattle's passing offense had some success against the 49ers in their last head-to-head meeting. That part of the offense could allow Pete Carroll's team to hang around.
As for the 49ers, they have to keep doing what they do best. Their run-heavy system thrived since the arrival of Christian McCaffrey.
Brock Purdy's emergence as a reliable starting quarterback is due in part to the system put in place by Kyle Shanahan.
Most rookies would have a hard time settling into a postseason game, but Purdy has proved to be unflappable in his starting role.
Tyler Lockett Burns 49ers Secondary Again
Tyler Lockett has 16 catches for 175 yards in two meetings with the 49ers this season.
The veteran Seattle wideout has found all sorts of space inside the San Francisco secondary, and that trend could continue on Saturday.
Geno Smith will likely lock into his two best targets when in the pocket. If DK Metcalf is occupied, Lockett will be the guy he throws to often.
Lockett might be the most important player on offense for the Seahawks on Saturday. He has had previous success against the 49ers and he is a tough player to handle in the red zone.
The 30-year-old leads the Seahawks with nine receiving touchdowns, and he owns the extra intangible of playoff experience.
Lockett has played in six postseason games. He has two 100-yard performances and two touchdowns since he made his playoff debut in 2016.
The 49ers could be torched by Lockett and still win the game because that is exactly what happened twice in the regular season.
Christian McCaffrey Is Unstoppable
A lot of observers will point out how successful Christian McCaffrey was against the Seahawks in Week 15.
McCaffrey's 138 total yards were the most recorded by any player. He truly was the difference-maker for the 49ers.
San Francisco should give McCaffrey another heavy workload on Saturday with the hope that he can once again produce large totals, and so he can help keep the Seahawks off the field.
McCaffrey had 32 touches from 26 rushes and six catches in Week 15. He was targeted eight times in the passing game.
The former Carolina Panthers running back had 17 touches in Week 16 and 25 touches in Week 17.
San Francisco will utilize the running back at a high rate. He could have close to 30 touches as the 49ers try to bury the Seahawks early.
Brock Purdy Does Not Throw a Touchdown Pass
Brock Purdy comes into Saturday with six consecutive multi-touchdown games through the air.
The rookie signal-caller had two touchdown passes in his second career start against the Seahawks in Week 15.
But there is a chance that streak comes to an end because of how the 49ers can hurt the Seahawks.
The return of Elijah Mitchell last week could convince Kyle Shanahan to rely heavily on the run game in the red zone. Mitchell and McCaffrey could make up for a majority of the red zone touches.
Purdy could still make some vital throws to George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk and others. He might have Deebo Samuel at his disposal, too, depending on how the wide receiver progresses this week.
Those big plays in the air can set up easy rushing touchdowns for McCaffrey, Mitchell and even Purdy himself, who has multiple rushing attempts in all but one of his starts.