San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks: Breaking Down Seattle's Game Plan

Marlon Maloney@@marlonmaloneyCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2014

November 27, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) looks at San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 19-3. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

Not much time has passed since the Seattle Seahawks dismantled Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving. The 19-3 victory for Seattle has led the teams down divergent paths. San Francisco is coming off a stunning 24-13 loss to the Oakland Raiders, dropping them to a 7-6 record.

While the 49ers continue to bath in the turmoil surrounding their coaching situation, they've likely missed out on any real opportunity at making the playoffs. The 49ers offense has struggled mightily over the last three weeks, scoring just 33 points in the process. 

In the meantime, the Seahawks (9-4) are in the thick of the NFC's playoff race, allowing just 20 points over the same three-week time span. Though Seattle's defense appears to be in championship form, its offense will need to take advantage of the next three weeks to show improvement.

The 49ers have the second-best road record in the conference at 4-3, but haven't had much luck playing in Seattle of late. San Francisco has not won in Seattle since Dec. 24, 2011. With the way each team's season has gone, the 49ers will be hard-pressed to pull off an upset, but Seattle cannot afford a slip up.

49ers and Seahawks NFL Ranks
San Francisco 49ersCategorySeattle Seahawks
319.4 (24th)Total Offense367.1 (11th)
18.8 (26th)Scoring Offense24.8 (11th)
205.9 (27th)Passing Offense197.0 (29th)
7.1 (23rd)Yards Per Attempt7.4 (15th)
113.5 (16th)Rushing Offense170.1 (1st)
4.0 (21st)Yards Per Attempt5.2 (1st)
40.0 (21st)3rd-Down Percentage40.9 (16th)
308.5 (3rd)Total Defense274.5 (1st)
20.6 (10th)Scoring Defense18.1 (2nd)
211.2 (4th)Passing Defense190.4 (1st)
6.7 (7th)Yards Per Attempt6.4 (4th)
97.2 (7th)Rushing Defense84.1 (3rd)
3.9 (10th)Yards Per Attempt3.5 (3rd)
41.7 (16th)3rd-Drown Percentage39.4 (14th)
NFL.com

On Defense

Colin Kaepernick had one of the worst games of his career the last time these teams played. Seattle loaded the box up with eight defenders on early downs to stop any form of San Francisco's ground game.

Kaepernick was inaccurate throughout the night, forcing throws and throwing two interceptions to Richard Sherman. It was such a poor outing for Kaepernick that all 16 of his completions were to targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Seattle can't count on Kaepernick's throws to be so erratic the second time around, but they would be wise to continue loading the box to stop him and Frank Gore from running. There's a chance the 49ers will attempt more three-plus receiver sets to spread out the field and create more running room.

Tight end Vernon Davis has essentially been a non-factor throughout the season and—this is complete speculation—may be dealing with some sort of injury. Still, San Francisco will be looking for ways to back defenders away from the line of scrimmage. An effective Davis will take either a linebacker or safety away from run support.

Seattle will need to continue generating a pass rush to help nullify any of San Francisco's adjustments. Should Jonathan Martin remain in the lineup at right tackle, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril should dominate the line of scrimmage and wreak havoc on the 49ers passing game.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 07: Quarterback  Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks hands the ball off to  Marshawn Lynch #24 in the first quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on December 7, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylva
Elsa/Getty Images

On Offense

The 49ers have been gashed on screen passes over the last two weeks, which includes the first matchup with Seattle. How the Seahawks' division rival was so unprepared for one its opponent's most called and simple plays is unclear, but Seattle must continue to take advantage of it.

The Raiders completed nine passes to their running backs for 73 yards last week, and Seattle would be wise to do the same with Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. Lynch has already posted career highs in receiving yards (324) and touchdowns (4). 

Lynch rushed for over 100 yards the last time these teams faced each other, and he appears likely to do the same this week. However, the Seahawks offense was largely ineffective throughout the game, converting just 5-of-14 third downs.

San Francisco linebacker Chris Borland was a force in the game, racking up 16 tackles and helping to limit Russell Wilson to one of his lowest rushing totals of the year. Borland was used as a spy on several downs in the game, a tactic the Philadelphia Eagles reenacted with Connor Barwin.

Seattle's receivers will need to do a much better job of getting open if Wilson is unable to find room to scramble.

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