Good morning. We’ve got mostly cloudy with a chance of rain and temperatures in the low 50s expected for this afternoon’s game between Seattle and San Francisco at CenturyLink Field, so dress appropriately if you’re headed out to the game.
Here’s five keys for the Hawks if they want to keep those faint playoff hopes alive.
Control Gore: Any game plan against San Francisco begins with figuring out a way to contain Frank Gore, the engine that makes the Niners’ offense go. Seattle’s done a nice job of limiting his big plays at times during his seven years with San Francisco, but he’s also had some big performances, including a 16-carry, 207-yard effort in San Francisco a couple years ago. Seattle players respect Gore’s ability and will be prepared to stop him.
Limit red zone scores: The Niners have one of the worst scoring offenses in the red zone in the league, and often settle for field goals near the goal line. Seattle needs to continue that trend today in order to keep the score close. Specifically, they need to figure out where Vernon Davis is at all times. He’s one of Alex Smith’s favorite targets near the goal line. Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright will have their hands full.
Win on special teams: We know what happened in the first contest this season – Ted Ginn Jr. ran wild on two returns. The Seahawks cannot have a repeat performance. They need to control field position, and punter Jon Ryan has done an excellent job in that regard this season. Leon Washington also will factor in here.
Run the football: It’s pretty simple, but expect Seattle to hand the ball of at least 20 times to Marshawn Lynch against San Francisco’s vaunted front seven. We might even see some misdirection stuff like counters and reverses to keep the Niners’ defense honest. But expect the Seahawks to test that front and try to punch a rushing TD in there.
Play clean: Again, the Seahawks need to continue to limit penalties and win the turnover battle, which will be tough playing against a San Francisco team that leads the league in turnover differential at +25. Hawks need to steal a few possessions to have a chance.
My game advance focuses on the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force – Marshawn Lynch goes head up against the league San Francisco and the league’s best run defense.
Mike Silver of Yahoo Sports talks with Seahawks senior player personnel executive Scot McCloughan. And the former San Francisco general manager offers up this bulletin board quote for his former team: “They come to our place Christmas Eve,” McCloughan says laughing of the 11-3 Niners, “and we’re going to beat the hell out of ‘em.”
But read the story closely and you won’t find a whole lot of animosity (at least in the story itself) stated by McCloughan for San Francisco. It’s more of a piece to get his name out there for potential head personnel jobs that could be opening up in Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis.
In fact, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayarea.com quotes McCloughan stating the he said it in a joking matter, which sounds about right.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com previews the game.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times writes that the Seahawks and Niners are in for an old-fashioned, grind-it-out battle.
John Boyle of The Everett Herald writes that the Seahawks have plenty to play for today.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that the Niners already have faced talented rusher this season in Cedric Benson, LeSean McCoy and Steven Jackson – and they all have failed to gain much ground against San Francisco’s defense.