Thursday, October 18, 2012

5 Burning Questions and A Week 7 Prediction

Here are 5 questions that 49ers fans should be looking for answers to during their week 7 match up with their NFC West Division rival Seattle Seahawks:

1.) Will the 49er offense regain it's balance?

  • As they did in their week 3 loss to Minnesota the 49ers went away from the strength of their offense, the running game, in their Sunday loss to the Giants.  Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman called a total of 15 running plays in the game, 8 on their first 2 possessions.  The 49ers responded to the loss by running the ball 44 times the next week against the Jets.  The 49er offense needs to get the ground game going to be successful, and I think they will need to get 25-30 carries tonight between Gore and Hunter if they are going to win.
2.)  How will Alex Smith rebound?
  • Smith is coming off his first 3 interception game of the Harbaugh era.  In the 2 49er losses this season he has accounted for 4 interceptions.  Tonight he looks to rebound against one of the best young secondaries in the league.  The Seahawks are tied for 2nd behind the 49ers (6.0) in average yards per pass at 6.2 yards per pass.  In addition they bring with them one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, with 17 sacks through their first 6 games.  While I expect them to pound the ball on the ground, it will be equally important to stay out of 3rd and long situations to help minimize the effect of the Seahawks front 4.
3.)  Will the 49er Defense be able to slow down Marshawn Lynch?
  • One of the keys for the 49er Defense to be successful tonight is their ability to take Lynch out of the game, and force Russell Wilson to beat them.  In their 2 meetings last season Lynch carried the ball 34 times for 140 yards (4.1ypc), and he became the first back to score a rushing touchdown against them all season.  So far this season Lynch is averaging 21.3 carries per game, and his average is just over half a yard better on the road, 4.6 on the road compared to 4.0 at home.  
4.)  Are David Akers and the Special Teams up to the task?

  • After setting an NFL record with 44 FG's in 2011 and hitting on 84.6% of his attempts, Akers has hit on only 68.8% of his attempts in 2012.  For a team that is continuing to struggle to score TD's, Akers is on pace to match his 52 attempts from last year, this is particularly concerning.  Had Smith not thrown 3 interceptions against the Giants, more attention may have been paid to his early season struggles.
  • The 49er coverage units have struggled mightily as well.  Entering tonight's game they are allowing 33.1 yards per kickoff return, and tonight they are tasked with stopping Leon Washington who is second in the NFL with an average of 31.7 yards per kickoff return.
5.)  After participating in a season high 16 snaps last week, how many snaps will Colin Kaepernick receive at Quarterback?
  • Of Kaepernick's 16 snaps, only 6 came prior to the 49ers being down by 20 points.  Do to the nature of how this game will most likely play out, my guess would be that we will see Kaepernick for about 5 snaps at QB tonight.


In looking at this game, I see it being a low scoring slug fest with a final score of 13-9.  This game will come down to how well the 49er Defense can take Lynch out of the Seahawks game plan.  If Lynch carries the ball at least 25 times the Seahawks will win.

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