Saturday, December 22, 2012
5 Burning Questions and a Week 16 Prediction
1) Will Justin Smith play?
Smith has started 185 consecutive games, but missed the entire week of practice. He is officially listed as questionable for the game. His absence could loom large for a defense that will face a stiff test ahead of them this week in Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and a Seattle team that has put up 108 points the last 2 weeks.
If Smith cannot go, Ricky Jean Francois will start in his place.
2) Can the 49ers slow down Wilson and Lynch?
The duo have been putting up video game type numbers the last few weeks. Wilson has accounted for 8.7 yards per play and 7 touchdowns over the last 3 weeks when you combine his passing and rushing numbers. In addition Lynch has averaged 8.2 yards per rush and 5 touchdowns during that same span.
In recent weeks the Seahawks have increased their use of the zone option, and Lynch has been very impressive, averaging close to 12 yards per carry from this package.
3) Will Kaepernick do it again?
In the brief time that Colin Kaepernick has been the starting quarterback he has gone on the road and defeated the Saints and Patriots. The Superdome is one of the most hostile environments in the NFL, and the Patriots had been almost unbeatable at home in December before last Sunday night. Now he gets to take on the "12th man" and what many consider the loudest stadium in the league.
The Seahawks have not lost in Seattle in nearly one calendar year. Their last home defeat? Last December against the 49ers.
4) Can the 49ers count on David Akers?
Akers' struggles have been well chronicled. The 49ers kicker is currently 30th in the league in field goal percentage, and is below 50% from over 40 yards. Add to that a missed 39 yard field goal last week and this has to be cause for concern.
It took 4 Akers field goals to defeat the Seahawks in Seattle last season including kicks from 53, 44, and 39 yards, all distances from which Akers has struggled this year. If they need to rely on him again this year can they count on him?
5) How will the missed practice time effect Richard Sherman?
The Seahawks starting cornerback has missed the entire week of practice and also had to fly back to New York for a Friday hearing regarding his appeal of a 4 game suspension for using a banned substance. Will this have an adverse effect on the Seahawks best cornerback?
After back to back blow out wins the Seahawks are going to be in for a battle this week. Expect this to be a tough, physical contest much like the week 7 game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defense will be up to the task, and the offense will be methodical in breaking down Seattle.
49ers 21 Seahawks 13