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Week 7 preview: Seahawks at 49ers

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Seattle Seahawks (2-4) at San Francisco 49ers (2-4)

Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif. – TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson

*Keys to the game: Something has to give with the Seahawks having allowed 26 sacks and QB Russell Wilson scrambling away from countless others while the 49ers have recorded only nine sacks and entering the game last in the league in pass defense. This intense rivalry is often dictated by the work in the trenches, and Seattle needs to get RB Marshawn Lynch (3.3 yards per carry) untracked and try to control the clock early while traveling on a short week. TE Jimmy Graham was targeted 12 times last week – three times as many as any other Seahawks – and his eight receptions for 140 yards, many of which came with Wilson scrambling, lend confidence the two are finally starting to build chemistry.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick failed to throw a touchdown pass in either meeting last season while the Seahawks swept the series by a combined score of 36-10. He’s coming off his best game of 2015, throwing for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Baltimore, and Seattle’s secondary has been the main culprit in five consecutive losses after holding a fourth-quarter lead. But this still isn’t a favorable matchup for Kaepernick and the 49ers will be diligent in trying to establish RB Carlos Hyde from the outset to keep their inconsistent signal-caller from forcing the ball downfield in long passing situations.

*Matchup to watch – Seahawks secondary vs. 49ers TEs Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald: Davis was targeted only once with no receptions last week in returning from a two-game absence due to a knee injury, while McDonald had one catch for 10 yards. Expect the duo to be far more involved in the gameplan Thursday with the Seahawks continually suffering from communication breakdowns in allowing three touchdowns to tight ends in the past two weeks. SS Kam Chancellor has been involved in miscues in coverage on all three.

*Player spotlight – Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman: Reinstated by the team after being released from jail, Seattle is expected to led Lynch’s lead blocker play while an investigation stemming from a hit-and-run charge is conducted. Coleman was suspended for last week’s game in which Lynch averaged 3.2 yards on 17 carries.

*Fast facts: Kaepernick has a 52.9 passer rating with no touchdowns and four of his five interceptions on the season during his first 10 attempts of games. … The Seahawks have outscored opponents by 43 points (107-64) through the first three quarters of games this season, but have been outscored by 28 (61-27) in the fourth quarter.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Bitter rivals who competed for the NFC championship just two years ago have fallen on hard times. The difference is the Seahawks didn’t gut their roster and suffer defections to retirement. Seattle has more weapons on both sides of the ball, and will protect it better, as long as the secondary doesn’t self-destruct late for a third consecutive week.

*Our pick: Seahawks 23-16


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