Everywhere a Seahawks fan has turned this week, they have been faced with two things: (1) everyone picks the 49ers to win the NFC West (2) everyone picks the 49ers to beat the Seahawks on opening day. People sometimes use the term “everyone” as hyperbole. That’s not the case here. Literally every web site, sports radio host, sports radio guest, you name it has picked a 49ers victory this Sunday.
Danny O’Neil went as far as to say on the Brock and Salk show today that the Seahawks won’t score an offensive touchdown, and could be blown out. Anyone who has read this blog for more than a year knows I’m not a rose-colored glasses fella, but come on people! This is Alex Smith and the 49ers coming into OUR house on opening day. The same team that lost their last visit here in a game that meant everything to the 49ers and nothing to Seahawks? Have the 49ers improved so much and Seahawks slid so far that this game is a foregone conclusion?
The big changes since that game for the 49ers are that they have added a couple (supposedly good) rookie offensive lineman. The big changes for the Seahawks? Buckle up:
+ Lofa Tatupu will play
+ Matt Hasselbeck is healthy
? Mike Williams and Deon Butler replace Housh and Burleson
+ Lawyer Milloy and Earl Thomas replace Deon Grant and Jordan Babineaux
+ Justin Forsett replaces Julius Jones
? Mike Gibson replaced Rob Sims at LG
– Tyler Polumbus replaces Ray Willis at LT
+ Marcus Trufant is healthy
+ Red Bryant and Chris Clemons replace Lawrence Jackson and Patrick Kerney
? New offensive system
? New defensive system
So much of the focus around town has been on the turnstile of roster changes and the big question marks on the offensive line that people seem to forget there are meaningful positive changes for the Seahawks going into this game. I don’t think it’s hard to argue that the Seahawks personnel has improved more since the game in Qwest last December than the 49ers has. Granted, there is still an overall talent gap, but we WON that game. People keep asking what a Seahawks win on Sunday would look like. Go no further than that last game. Look at all the things that went right for the 49ers in that game:
– Alex Smith throws for a career-high 310 yards and sterling 95.6 passer rating with zero interceptions
– Vernon Davis gets a career-high 111 yards receiving
– Matt Hasselbeck was sacked 5 times by 5 different players
– Alex Smith was only sacked once
– The Seahawks running backs averaged 3.04 YPC
– The 49ers averaged 4.4 YPC
– Patrick Willis had 16 tackles
– The Seahawks converted 25% of 3rd downs
Do you really think the 49ers are going to get more than 5 sacks on Sunday, even with a shaky offensive line? Is Alex Smith really going to outdo those numbers? As bad as the Seahawks running game appears to be, is 3.04 yards too much to ask?
The things that went right for the Seahawks were that Matt had a solid game with a 107.2 QB rating, although he did lose a fumble. The 49ers lost two fumbles, and the turnover battle 2-1. The 49ers were 1-13 on 3rd down and 0-2 in the red zone. The 49ers had 8 penalties to the Seahawks 4.
Seriously, be critical. Which list of positives will be harder to re-create on Sunday? The Seahawks very well may lose to a good 49er team this week, but the group think surrounding this game is ridiculous.
When I close my eyes and picture Sunday, I see Mike Williams being the difference. I don’t think there is a CB in the NFL that can match-up to him. I believe in the defense’s ability to stop the run. I believe in Matt Hasselbeck. I believe in the 12th man, especially on opening day. I believe the 49ers are the most overhyped 8-8 team in history. I believe Alex Smith is a losing quarterback. I believe we have nothing to lose. I believe.