The Opposing View: An Insider's Look At The Seahawks' Week 2 Opponent, The San Francisco 49ers – Senior Reporter
The Seahawks head to the Bay Area this weekend for their first NFC West clash of the 2022 season. While the Seahawks are looking to build off a Monday night win over Denver, the 49ers are trying to bounce back following a Week 1 loss in monsoon-like conditions in Chicago.
To learn more about this week’s opponent, reached out to 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares with five questions about the Niners:
Q: The offense struggled in a season-opening loss in Chicago, is there concern about Trey Lance and that group, or can we write that one off to a game marred by crazy weather?
Pallares: While confidence in San Francisco’s starting quarterback Trey Lance has not wavered in the slightest, weather was just one of the factors that affected the 49ers offense in their season-opening loss to the Bears. Throughout the week, Lance and his teammates spoke at length about playing a cleaner and more disciplined game of football. The 49ers collectively racked up 12 penalties to the tune of 99 yards, and some of which negatively affected the momentum of San Francisco’s offensive series. Additionally, there are plays that Lance has identified as ones he’d like back. Moving forward, the 49ers QB1 said it’s all about adjusting play calls and ball placement.
“For me, for us, we made too many mistakes early. I missed too many early, but we turned the page on that,” Lance said. “Going back and watching the tape, whether it’s practice or a game, that’s where I learn so much every single rep because little things can make all the difference, in the long run, especially in a game like that.”
The 49ers were also without a key playmaker in tight end George Kittle who is dealing with a groin strain sustained early last week. His status remains unclear for the time being, but his absence is a notable one for San Francisco’s offense. For all these reasons, there’s not much cause for concern about the offense, because the changes that need to be made for Week 2 can be handled in-house.
Q: The 49ers overcame a slow start (2-4) to nearly make the Super Bowl last season, does that make it easier for the team to remain calm coming off a tough opening loss.
Pallares: Experience definitely helps in situations like these, but regardless, head coach Kyle Shanahan and the team do a good job of staying even keeled. A loss in Week 1 isn’t much cause for overreaction especially when playing on the road and in adverse weather conditions. As I mentioned earlier, it’s also a huge benefit when you can easily identify the issues that need to be corrected headed into the next week.
“When we go over all the penalties that we had, I think a few of them were definitely avoidable,” Shanahan said. “We’re just trying to be more detailed in everything we do. Don’t let anything slide. Point everything out, nothing different than usual. I expect us to be a lot cleaner this week.”
Q: What does the loss of RB Elijah Mitchell mean for San Francisco, which as a team rushed for 176 yards in Week 1, and who steps up in his absence?
Pallares: The loss of Elijah Mitchell is a significant one, but there is plenty of talent on the offense to hold down the fort as he heals. Shanahan is looking to fifth-year running back Jeff Wilson Jr. to step up in Mitchell’s absence—that’s been clear since Mitchell was ruled out midway through Sunday’s game. Wilson Jr. took over the No. 1 running back position with some additional help from Deebo Samuel in the backfield.
“Jeff is such a good football player,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “Anything that we ask him to he does, whether it’s playing our third-down back, playing the fullback role when our wideouts have the ball, in the pass game or in the run game. He’s been a starter for us and Jeff, he’s just a very reliable guy. When Jeff’s healthy and able to stay fresh, he can play at a high level and he’s one of the guys that we trust as much as anyone around here.”
Wilson Jr. was injured at the start of last year but played in the final nine games of the regular season, racking up 294 yards and two touchdowns on 79 carries and made two appearances in the 49ers playoff run.
You can also count on Samuel getting some extra work in the backfield as was seen in Chicago. No. 19 barreled in for his first rushing touchdown of the season, and given his eight rushing touchdowns in 2021 (an NFL record for the most by a wide receiver in a single season), you can expect more from him on the ground this season.
Q: Aside from the obvious big names, what player or players do you think could be an X-factor in this game?
Pallares: The 49ers boast one of the most formidable front sevens in the league, and a strong performance from this group could greatly impact Seattle from getting any kind of offensive flow going on Sunday. This group had a strong start to 2021 with two sacks in the opener against Chicago.
It took defensive lineman Samson Ebukam exactly three snaps to get to Bears quarterback Justin Fields for the first sack of the game, forcing a quick three-and-out on Chicago’s opening drive. Later that same quarter, defensive end Nick Bosa notched a sack of his own, also on a third down play, for a loss of six yards, ending the Bears third offensive series.
While the defensive line was first to jump out in the sack count, I would never count the linebackers out of the mix. This trio accounted for 16 tackles versus the Bears (including one tackle-for-loss), and I anticipate productivity to only go up from here.
Q: What are a couple of matchups you’re most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Pallares: I am excited to see Trey Lance versus the Seahawks pass rush. One of the most dynamic parts of Lance’s game is his physical style of running, and he truly fights for every yard. We saw Lance rack up 54 yards versus the Bears, and if the Seahawks don’t contain him, it’s possible he can pick up even more yardage in Week 2.
“There’s always going to be better decisions I can make (when running), but on Sunday, I felt like I protected myself pretty well,” Lance said. “I felt good for the most part, maybe on a couple (plays) I could have gotten down one step faster…For the most part, when I’m running between tackles or running on third down, I’m never going to slide and go fourth-and-two or give up on the play and send our defense on the field in a situation like that.”
Another matchup to be on the lookout for is the 49ers secondary against the Seahawks go-to receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Both of these wide receivers are capable of making big-time plays, so the onus is on San Francisco’s secondary to stick to their assignments and take away those deep throw touchdown opportunities. Safety Talanoa Hufanga had a breakout game in Week 1, so expect to see some pass breakups from him come Sunday.
The Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco for Week 2 of the 2022 season, the 48th meeting between the two teams. Take a look back at some of their previous matchups.
Seattle Seahawks fullback Dan Doornink (33) runs upfield during an NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco, Oct. 7, 1979. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 35-24. (AP Photo/Al Messerschmidt)
San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana (16) passes during an NFL football game against Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Nov. 25, 1985, in San Francisco. The 49ers won the game, 19-6. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)
San Francisco 49ers Ronnie Lott pulls down Seattle Seahawks receiver Steve Largent (80) for a short gain in the first quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Aug. 29, 1986. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Jerry Rice (80) of the San Francisco 49ers dives into the endzone for a touchdown after catching a 30-yard pass from Joe Montana during the second quarter on Friday, Sept. 1, 1989 in Seattle, against the Seahawks. Unable to make the play for the Seahawks in Dwayne Harper (29). (AP Photo/Bill Chan)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg gives the number one sign as he lines up behind Seahawks tackle Andy Heck (66) during the second quarter at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Sept. 1, 1990. The Seahawks beat the 49ers 30-10. (AP Photo/John Mabanglo)
Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Sam Adams (98) fights his way through the blocking of 49ers offensive guard Derrick Deese (63) during a 9 to 13 Seattle Seahawks preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers on August 26, 1994 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. (AP Photo/Paul Spinelli)
Seattle Seahawks running back Ricky Watters (32) evades San Francisco 49ers’ Monty Montgomery on a first-quarter run Saturday, Aug. 19, 2000, in Seattle. Watters made a first down on the play. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander (37) makes touchdown on Saturday, August 25, 2001, in San Francisco, California. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 28-18 in a preseason game. (AP Photo/Al Golub)
Seattle Seahawks defensive back Reggie Tongue (25) moves in to finish off tackle on San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Tai Streets (89) on Sunday, December 1, 2002, in San Francisco, California. The 49ers defeated the Seahawks 31-24. (AP Photo/Al Golub)
Seattle Seahawks’ Antonio Cochran (78) celebrates a fumble recovery by teammate safety Ken Hamlin on the first play after the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2003, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-19. At left is 49ers’ Ron Stone. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks’ Ken Lucas (21) grabs San Francisco 49ers Jamal Robertson on a run in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 26, 2004, in Seattle. Robertson was held to no gain on the play, and the Seahawks won, 34-0. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
San Francisco 49ers’ Shawntae Spencer, left, pushes Seattle Seahawks’ Joe Jurevicius out of bounds on a first quarter pass reception, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, front left, is brought down by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Manny Lawson, back, and linebacker Brandon Moore, right, in the second half of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006. San Francisco won 20-14. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) smiles after greeting former teammate and San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterback Trent Dilfer after an NFL football game Monday, Nov. 12, 2007, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 24-0. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Justin Forsett (30) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers running back Michael Robinson (24) during an NFL football game in San Francisco, Sunday, Oct. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) passes under pressure by San Francisco 49ers’ Takeo Spikes in the fourth quarter during an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, in Seattle, Wash. Hasselbeck completed the pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The Seahawks won 20-17. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Seattle Seahawks running back Michael Robinson #26 during an NFL football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers December 12, 2010 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco Ca. The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 40 – 21 in regular season week fourteen action. (Ap Photo/ Bill Nichols)
San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith (94) bull rushes the quarterback during an NFL game against Seattle Seahawks offensive lineman Robert Gallery (72) on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011, in Seattle. The 49ers won the game, 19-17. (AP Photo/Greg Trott)
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) catches a pass in front of San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver (29) during the second quarter of an NFL football game in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
NFL Football: NFC Conference Playoff: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks Game Action CenturyLink Field/Seattle, WA, USA 1/19/2014 X157457 TK1 Credit: Rod Mar
FILE – In this Jan. 26, 2014, file photo, Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman (25) tips a pass in the endzone intended for San Francisco 49ers’ Michael Crabtree (15) in the final minute of the second half of the NFC championship NFL football game in Seattle. Seattle’s Malcolm Smith intercepted the tipped pass. Sherman was fined $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct/taunting after he made a choking gesture after the play toward the San Francisco bench that he said was directed at quarterback Colin Kaepernick. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls (34) scores a touchdown between San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Gerald Hodges (51), strong safety Jaquiski Tartt (29) and linebacker Michael Wilhoite (57) during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner intercepts a 49ers pass near the goal line and heads upfield.
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