Are the 49ers any real threat to the Seahawks?

The Seattle Seahawks moved to 3-1 with a win over Washington on Monday night, tied for first in the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers sit right behind at 3-2.

Most expected Seattle and San Francisco to battle for the division title and top seed in the NFC before the season. The Seahawks were thoroughly outplayed in a loss to the San Diego Chargers, but have looked impressive otherwise, adding wins over the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers to their resume.

The 49ers, while not necessarily off to a bad start, have a few issues. San Francisco owns solid wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, but the 49ers aren’t quite firing on all cylinders yet.

Colin Kaepernick commited four turnovers¬†Week 2, handing the Chicago Bears a come-from-behind road win. San Francisco’s offense couldn’t get much going in a 23-14 Week 3 loss to Arizona, as the 49ers mysteriously abandoned the run while giving Frank Gore just six carries.

There are also a few reports that Jim Harbaugh is causing friction in the 49ers’ locker room, although those must be taken with a huge grain of salt at this point. In any case, the 49ers look a little more vulnerable at this point in the season than they have in years past.

Still, San Francisco is a very dangerous team that the Seahawks must be wary of. With apologies to Arizona, a solid team that could approach 10 wins again with better quarterback health, the 49ers remain the biggest threat to the Seahawks in the division and perhaps the conference.

The 49ers have been better over the past two weeks, with a pair of five-point wins over the Eagles and Chiefs. Perhaps even more importantly, San Francisco has returned to its identity of running the ball and playing outstanding defense.

Week 3’s 26-21 scoreline doesn’t really reflect how dominant the San Francisco defense was, as Philadelphia was held to 213 total yards. The fact that the Eagles still had a great chance to win late in the fourth quarter does say something, but the 49ers absolutely dominated one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Gore has also ran the ball 42 times for 226 yards over the past two games to lead the San Francisco offense. The 49ers also shut down Kansas City’s passing game and limited Jamaal Charles to 80 yards on 15 carries, which most teams in the league would certainly be happy with.

The current San Francisco roster also isn’t at full capacity due to injuries and suspensions. Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Tramaine Brock and Vernon Davis are among those who have missed time.

Seattle and San Francisco don’t meet until Week 13, meaning most of those players will be back. Smith will be a huge concern in particular, as he will be back in form four weeks removed from a suspension and will be going up against a suspect Seattle offensive line.

The Seahawks are still one of the top teams in the NFL and have the defense to shut down San Francisco. But their offensive line looked terrible last week and the 49ers have the ability to take away any team’s running game.

Seattle’s schedule doesn’t help matters either, as the Seahawks play at San Francisco before traveling to Philadelphia Week 14 and then returning home to face the 49ers the very next game. It’s hard to imagine either team doing better than a split, meaning the division will again come down to the wire.

While the Seahawks are a Super Bowl-caliber team again and the 49ers have looked a little off early on, San Francisco remains a huge threat.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is a journalism student at the University of Washington, currently covering sports for The UW Daily in addition to Sports Out West. He has been closely following Seattle sports his entire life.


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