Seahawks Insider

The 5 spot: 49ers in focus

Post by Eric Williams on Dec. 21, 2012 at 8:00 pm with 24 Comments »
December 21, 2012 8:00 pm
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) celebrates with quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) after scoring on a 10-yard touchdown reception against the Chicago Bears during the third quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Matt Maiocco, who expertly covers San Francisco for, has been kind enough to answer five questions on the 49ers heading into this weekend’s big matchup.

You can follow Matt’s coverage of the 49ers on the web and via Twitter.

Check out the Q&A below.

1. From a distance, Jim Harbaugh’s decision to switch quarterbacks from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick appears like the right move. Smith started against Seattle in the first game, so this will be the first opportunity for the Seahawks to play against the Nevada product. How has San Francisco’s offense changed with Kaepernick under center?

Maiocco: Kaepernick opens up the entire field in a way that Smith did not. With his strong arm and confidence to make every throw, Kaepernick will attack outside the numbers and down the field. He also runs a lot of zone read plays, where he can hand to Frank Gore or LaMichael James or keep the ball himself. Kaepernick had 50-yard runs in back-to-back games against St. Louis and Miami this month.

2. The Seahawks really had an issue stopping the diversity of runs San Francisco dialed up against them in the first matchup, including traps, wham plays and toss sweeps. We’re familiar with San Francisco’s offensive line coach Mike Solari from his time in Seattle. How much of the 49ers success is predicated on scheme, and how much is based on the talent level they have up front?

Maiocco: The 49ers built a physical offensive line in order to run the ball. Tackles Joe Staley and Anthony Davis are very good run-blockers. And so are the guards, Mike Iupati and Alex Boone. The 49ers have a lot of diversity in their run attack. They use split backs more than any team in the league. And they’ve started using a lot of full-house pistol formations, too, to get the defense balanced to the point where the 49ers can attack in any direction. They use their talent and scheme very effectively.

3. Michael Crabtree seems to have blossomed in his third season. What’s the reason for his improvement?

Maiocco: He has remained healthy. Last season, he played very well, but he got off to a slow start due to foot surgery right before training camp. He is running better than he has at any point in his NFL career. He has always had good hands, but now he’s able to turn short passes into long gains with yards after the catch. He’s a tough, physical runner.

4. Justin Smith’s availability is uncertain because of an elbow injury. How much does Smith being in the lineup help in the success of teammate Aldon Smith rushing the passer?

Maiocco: Justin Smith is the guy opposing offenses target. He dictates a double-team on just about every play. Even when he’s singled-up, he’ll often tie up to blockers to make things easier on Aldon Smith. If Justin Smith is unable to play, his replacement (Ricky Jean Francois) will get single-blocked, and the Seahawks can afford to pay a lot more attention to Aldon Smith.

5. There’s been a lot of talk about this being a rivalry game, with the “unique” relationship between Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, and supposedly the players from both teams not liking each other. But San Francisco has defeated the Seahawks four straight times. Do the 49ers really view this matchup as a rivalry?

Maiocco: The 49ers try to keep the nameless-faceless approach. But there is something special here because these teams are so similar. It’s about which team can out-physical the other. Other than Dashon Goldson jawing with — and ultimately getting penalized for “taunting” – Marshawn Lynch, I don’t know that there’s been anything above and beyond going on. I know in speaking with many of the 49ers’ players, there doesn’t seem to be any personal animosity. The 49ers have a healthy respect for the Seahawks players — and that includes Goldson’s view of Lynch.

Leave a comment Comments → 24
  1. If it were not for Harblow, I would enjoy the SF – SEA matchups as a good, fun rivalry. Much the way I always have enjoyed the St. Louis games in the past 10 years or so. But I dislike Harblow so much that I just want to see us stomp on him and his team. I’d really have a hard time coaching this one…way too much emotion. Thankfully I’m just fan. :)

  2. “…there doesn’t seem to be any personal animosity…”

    I don’t know about that. I have personal animosity toward the 49ers. Last year’s game up here got feisty in a hurry. Our guys have a chip on their shoulder after dropping 4 straight to our #1 rival.

  3. Great thoughts! I love this posts, getting good comments from other writers, Always very interesting

  4. Just win, baby. Ultimately, I would LOVE to see us blow them out here at home by 20+ points. But I honestly don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re too evenly matched. I think it’ll be a very close game that’s won by our Seahawks by less than 7 points. Let’s just beat the Niners. I don’t care by how many points, just as long as we end up on the positive side of the equation. I can’t be there in person to make my lungs bleed, but I’ll be doing it from my couch here in NJ. GO SEAHAWKS!!

  5. This will be a better “rivalry” when Seattle actually takes a few from SF and they are fighting for division crowns/SB births each year

  6. Hate Harbaugh too. Probably my least favorite guy in the league these days. No way this one is a blowout. If we win it – it will be a hardfought, contested game all the way through. I think it’s the hardest hitting matchup in the league these days (now that Pitt/Balt has taken a step down).

    Will be interesting to see what kind of game it is. Our O has been killing it lately, and really SF’s has too. Seems to me this game could either go the 17-14 route, or something more like 35-31, as both defenses have shown they can be touched. We’ll see.

  7. While it’s true that we have lost our last 4 to them, our last win was a thumping during our home opener for the 2010 season, and we’ve lost the last two by 9 points combined. I do agree we need to win more often for it to be considered a true rivalry. Like Cutler said, it’s not a rivalry if one team wins all the time, no matter how much bad blood or how bad the seahawks want it. As it stands, it’s a rivalry in the sense that we know and they know that we are the closest competition in the division and perhaps even in the entire NFC.
    Although the Rams have played them very tough this year.
    Seahawks win a thriller 27-24!

  8. I never liked Harbaugh as a player and despise him as a coach. Most college players in the NFL always talk very highly of their college coach but Sherman’s comments about Harbaugh being a bully when he played for him solidifies my belief that he is just a plain A-hole. I cannot stand his smug look and 9ers games I have watched no matter if a penalty or reviwed call on the field doesn’t go his way even if the video shows it blatantly he screams and yells like a 5 year old girl on the sidelines. I CANNOT stress enough how much I actually HATE that guy. I normall dont hate any opposing teams coach. I respect all NFL coaches. Even those who beat the Seahawks. Harbaugh just rubs me the wrong way. He reminds me of the idiot high school jocks that pick on the wimpy kids. Just a total waste of a human being. I hope Pete and Co. ruin his Xmas. I want this win so bad I cannot stand it. I am a fan who can normally move on from the worst of defeats and not let it affect me the day after a game but this game has me so jacked up that if we don’t beat that idiot I will be crushed. I can respect the players as San Fran has an incredible team. They just have the most arrogant coach I have ever seen. Arrrrrrgh! WIN seattle PLEASE WIN!!! It’s all I want for my Xmas is a Seahawks drubbing of Jim Harbaigh. I want Pete to run up the score if we get ahead. Gonna be a tough game so i doubt it will be a high soring game. Harbaugh you can suck it and suck it hard you turd!!!!

  9. **sorry for the misspellings and grammar. My mind is fucntioning at a very low level so early in the a.m.

  10. montanamike2 says:

    This is one game where i would like us to run up the score, about 4 games worth.

  11. confucious says:

    Thanks for the link Sandpoint. This game has a lot less to do with matchups and much to do with composure. The 49ers are used to winning, business as usual. The Seahawks just found out what the true meaning of consistency is. Albiet against struggling teams in the Bills and Cards. It is much easier to become emotional about a situation when you are new to it. If they play steady x’s and o’s and keep their heads in the game, we win. Let emotion and negative momentum effect their play, who knows. It is time to take the next step boys. Make this game business as usual.

  12. confucious says:

    Defensive line play early is crucial to the Seahawks success. In many games this year the defense has got off to such a slow start, especially the dline. The 49ers think they can run on us. If they can keep RW and the offense off of the field, that is their best chance. I think we’ll do alright a the clink. I actually think this will be a statement game. 28-17 Hawks.

  13. Ewalters7354 says:

    Can someone please tell me how Kirk Cousins beat our RW for ROTW?

  14. Ewalters7354 says:
  15. The thing I want is NO! dumb ass penelties. Play with a chip but give these guys nothing for free. I expect it to be close as well. 17 14. Seahaawks win…

  16. rramstad says:

    Two comments.

    Sunday is Harbaugh’s birthday.

    Is it just me, or does even the SF columnist above come off a bit cocky? I understand he’s proud of his team, but the way he answers the questions, it sounds like he believes there are no weaknesses on his team… which I don’t believe, every football team has weaknesses, or at least areas of relative less strength.

    OK, I guess three comments. From the Patriots game, my impression is that the 49ers are susceptible to the intermediate passing game, and this will be especially true if we get good play action going. Teams have to honor the threat of the Beast running, and will respond twitchy to handoffs in his direction. If Wilson can get the quick slants and hitches off, immediately after faking, it’ll work, and work well. Ball control will be key… frankly, it’s a lot like a west coast offense scheme, in terms of the play calling, with a LOT of play action to freeze the LBs.

  17. SF has a somewhat methodical approach to moving the ball down the field. Pretty much opposite the up tempo, snap the ball quickly, kind of thing the Patriots run. It’s almost as though with their run first style of ball, they want to slow things way down in order to limit the number of offensive snaps the other team gets and also keep their defense fresh.

    To counterattack we might benefit from a really fast, up tempo, maybe even no-huddle offense. Keep them on their heels a bit, limit their number of substitutes (although they don’t sub much anyway) and gas their defense so that come 4th Qtr we can grind it hard on them and pout them away.

    But still, this is going to be a really hard game. SF scares me more than any other team in the league. Way too balanced both sides of the ball.

  18. Hammajamma says:

    One of the things Bevell has done very well is continue to expand the looks from which they run certain plays, eliminating the defense’s ability to key on certain formations. This game should really test his creativity. Not that your going to fool SF because they mostly stay in base sets anyway, but if RW has success in the read option game, countering that schematically may be difficult because they run it out of so many formations and down/distance scenarios. Coaching adjustments are going to fascinating to watch.

  19. How would you guys feel about Harbaugh if he was coaching the Seahawks and instantly turned them into an NFL powerhouse after a decade of mediocrity?

    I don’t like him either, but that’s mainly because he’s coaching the Niners and isn’t media-friendly. Parcells and Bellichick aren’t too different.

    I also understand why fans of other teams don’t like Pete Carroll. The fake punt wasn’t classy, but if the Seahawks had remained at 47 points, they wouldn’t have gotten as much attention (or made history) as they did with another 50-point effort.

  20. WonTonsInMySoup says:

    GO HAWKS. I hate the damn Forty Whiners. They have some pretty classless fans too.

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