Doug Baldwin is coming off his most productive game since his rookie season. His seven receptions and 91 yards led the team versus Carolina. The performance by Baldwin was only possible because Russell Wilson showed an increased willingness to rely on his slot receiver, and the two demonstrated a chemistry that was missing for 2012. That improvement should get the attention of 49ers players, coaches, and fans, because history shows us Baldwin saves his best for games against his old college coach that passed on him in the 2011 draft.
Baldwin leads the Seahawks in receiving yards, receptions and receiving touchdowns in the four games against San Francisco since Baldwin entered the league two years ago.
It is not even close. Baldwin more than double his next closest teammate. The down side to this picture is that nobody has been that productive through the air. Baldwin’s 168 yards works out to an average of 42 yards/game. That is up only slightly from his average in all other games during that time of roughly 38 yards/game. The most any Seahawk quarterback has thrown for vs. SF in that time was Tarvaris Jackson gaining 197 yards through the air in the 33-17 loss in SF in 2011. Wilson had a great 115.3 rating in the 42-13 win last year, but only had 171 yards passing.
Not surprisingly, Baldwin also leads in receptions, and by a large margin. His average of 4 receptions per game is up 54% from his typical 2.6 receptions per game versus other opponents. There are not many receptions to go around against the 49ers, as Wilson has never completed more than 15 passes in one game when facing them.
Averaging a touchdown per game is outstanding production versus any opponent, but is even more impressive against a defense like the 49ers. It dwarfs Baldwin’s average of 0.1 touchdowns/game in other games. A full four of Baldwin’s seven career touchdowns have come against this one opponent. No receiver has caught more touchdowns against San Francisco over the last two years than Baldwin.
All that came before Baldwin found his rhythm with Wilson. It also came before San Francisco nickel back Chris Culliver was injured, and before Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson moved on to Tampa Bay. Baldwin was a standout throughout training camp and carried it over into the first game of 2013. The 49ers would be wise to brace for impact. Every team has a nemesis. San Francisco may be reintroduced to theirs come Sunday.