Losing running back Chris Carson for the season put a damper on the Seattle Seahawks’ playoff outlook.
Luckily for them, they were able to reunite with Marshawn Lynch - signing him to a deal for the rest of the season. His addition shrinks the hole significantly left by Carson.
With Lynch now in the fold, it could cause the defense of the San Francisco 49ers to alter their game plan. However, defensive coordinator Robert Saleh does not believe that is the case. When asked if the addition of Lynch changes the defensive game plan - Saleh answered:
“For us, it doesn’t. Carson’s a big bruising back, very similar to how Marshawn is. So, the tackling plan, all that stuff, is still the same. He’s a load to tackle, he’s going to lower his pads and you’ve got to have a specific way to tackle him.”
While adding Lynch is a great replacement this late in the season for Carson, he doesn’t really add anything above the replacement level. Meaning Lynch doesn’t bring a different dynamic to the Seahawks offense. Both players are nearly identical, so there is no need to live in the moment and change the defense.
The 49ers approach will be the same as if Carson was there. Although, it is hard to neglect that Lynch’s addition doesn’t add suspense and intrigue. He is a big name known outside of the football world. The hype will definitely feel heightened with him now being featured for the division clinching game on Sunday in Seattle.
“It’s cool for the fans, cool for the media to talk about, but he’s another player that we’ve got to hit as hard as we can. It’s no different than Carson and the way he runs the football. It’s cool that they need the emotional boost, but we look at it the same.”
But that hype will be seen and felt only for the fans and media. The 49ers have understood what this game has meant for weeks. They have shown that in almost every game this season with the game against the Atlanta Falcons as the exception.
Sunday at CenturyLink Field will be the toughest battle the 49ers will have endured this season. It’s not just facing a great team with the division and a first-round bye on the line.
Playing at CenturyLink is one of (if not the toughest) places to play in the league. The last time the 49ers won there was in 2011. Kyle Shanahan’s group will look to end that losing streak that will catapult them into playoff prominence.