49ers Week 15 primer: It could get ugly in Seattle

Week 14 had to be rock bottom…right?

It can’t much worse than losing by double digits to an Oakland Raiders team that was 1-11 coming in, and had just been destroyed the previous week 52-0.

It can’t get much worse than your franchise quarterback looking completely lost,  as he either didn’t see plays develop in front of him, or was wildly inaccurate when he did.

It can’t get much worse than your head coach, who has brought you to three straight NFC Championship games, is on his way out the door and the team is playing like the whole situation is in their head.

It just can’t right?

Unfortunately, it could.

If there is any team that would want to officially end the 49ers’ season it would be the Seattle Seahawks, and CenturyLink Field has been a house of horrors for San Francisco.

Brace yourselves, this could get ugly.

Recent History

Since Colin Kaepernick took over as the starting quarterback, the 49ers are 1-4 against the Seahawks, and have lost all three games they’ve played in Seattle.

The two regular season matchups have been ugly and one sided in favor of the Seahawks, as the the 49ers have been outscored 71-16. The Niners did come close in last year’s NFC Championship game, but three fourth quarter turnovers by Kaepernick were the nail in the coffin in a 23-17 loss.

Players to watch

As the season continues to unravel, it’s hard not to keep the concentration on Kaepernick, who is clearly regressing and looks lost right now. He has 295 yards passing over his last two games.

That’s not the average, that’s how much he’s thrown for over the last eight quarters. To make matter worse, he’s only thrown one touchdown pass, and has been picked off four times.

While the struggles of the offensive line haven’t helped, much of the blame still has to go to Kaepernick as he continues to miss open receivers, either by being inaccurate or just not seeing them. If the trend continues, the 49ers will struggle to get in the end zone even once.

The Seahawks may be getting fed up with Marshawn Lynch off the field, but they have to be happy with him on it, especially when he plays the 49ers.

Over the last seven games against San Francisco, Lynch has 704 yards rushing and six touchdowns on the ground. As good as Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland have been, they still aren’t in the same league as Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. Expect Seattle to take advantage of that and stay true to their running game. Lynch had 104 of the 157 yards rushing Seattle gained in their Week 13 win over the 49ers.

Game changing factor

The 49ers have been held to under 20 points in six of their last seven games, and only have 10 touchdowns during that stretch. With the offense in shambles, do they have any prayer of breaking out against the best defense in the NFL?

Seattle, which held San Francisco to three points at home in Week 13, have found their groove defensively, only giving up 20 points over the last three weeks.

Unless the 49er defense can force a few turnovers, it will be difficult for them to get much going in this one.

Stats to know

Without Anthony Davis and Daniel Kilgore for much of the season, the San Francisco offensive live has been a shell of itself. They have given up a whopping 43 sacks through 13 games (third most in the NFL), and have a sack percentage of 9.3 (tied for second worst).

Perhaps even more troubling is the inability to run the ball consistently, which mostly stems from poor blocking.

A perennial top 10 team on the ground, the 49ers rank 16th in total rushing yards with 1,475. While they are averaging 4.0 yards per carry as a team, that number is a misleading because of Kaepernick’s 4.7 yards per tote.

49er running backs are actually averaging only 3.8 yards per attempt, which is the lowest in any season under Jim Harbaugh. If the trend continues, this will also be the first year Frank Gore finishes under 1,000 yards (on pace for 953) since an injury cut short his 2010 season. Gore has gained 1,000 yards or more in seven out of eight seasons as the starting running back entering 2014.

Bottom line

While the 49ers can tell themselves they’re still alive, in reality they aren’t. Given recent performances, I can’t think of one reason to believe that this game will even be competitive. San Francisco has the talent to turn this around and there is always a chance that happens, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Photo: Getty Images

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a contributor to 49erswebzone.com and Ninerfans.com. He's been a guest on numerous podcasts and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY.


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