NFL Wire News

Week 15 Preview: 49ers at Seahawks

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San Francisco 49ers (7-6) at Seattle Seahawks (9-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at CenturyLink Field, Seattle – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews

*Keys to the game: The 49ers’ offense has lacked an identity much of the season, but the wheels became particularly wobbly during an embarrassing 19-3 home loss to the Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day. QB Colin Kaepernick completed just 10 passes, RB Frank Gore averaged 3.6 yards per carry and the offensive line was powerless to support either.

Kaepernick would be wise to stop throwing in the direction of CB Richard Sherman, his arch nemesis who has picked off three passes over the past two meetings. And offensive coordinator Greg Roman would be wise to get Kaepernick out of the pocket and utilize his multi-dimensional skills. Kaepernick has hurt the Seahawks with his legs in the past, but stands little chance as an inaccurate pocket passer attacking the Legion of Boom.

The Seahawks’ offense remains a mishmash of RB Marshawn Lynch bowling over and QB Russell Wilson darting around would-be tacklers. It ain’t pretty, but it has been effective. If San Francisco can keep Wilson hemmed in, Seattle’s wide receivers don’t gain separation easily and pass protection breaks down quickly.

*Matchup to watch – Gore vs. Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner: Seattle’s defensive resurgence coincided with Wagner’s return from a toe injury. The Seahawks have allowed just 191 combined rushing yards in victories over the Cardinals, 49ers and Eagles.

*Player spotlight – 49ers CB Dontae Johnson: The rookie is expected to start in the injury-ravaged secondary if Chris Culliver (knee) is sidelined.

*Fast facts: Sherman has two interceptions while allowing two completions over the past three games for an opposing quarterback rating of 0.0, according to Pro Football Focus. … Wilson has 33 regular-season victories, tied with Dan Marino and Matt Ryan for the most in NFL history by quarterbacks in their third NFL seasons.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Billed as one of the games of the year when the schedule came out, the 49ers now have the feeling of a grenade with multiple hands grasping at the pin. Anything can happen in a rivalry as bitter as this, but the Seahawks would love nothing more than to be the team to yank that pin and watches the seemingly inevitable implosion play out.

*Our pick: Seahawks 26-16


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