Week 17 will be for all the marbles in the NFC west as the San Francisco 49ers head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. In the first matchup between these teams, the 49ers were missing George Kittle and eventually would lose Emmanuel Sanders. Two key players were absent that factored into the loss for the 49ers.
Now the Seahawks are facing injuries to two key players in Chris Carson and Duane Brown. While there is nothing the Seahawks can do about Brown, the Seahawks did something to shrink the hole left by Carson (who was put on injured reserve).
Seattle turned back the clock and signed the beast mode Marshawn Lynch for the rest of their season. Lynch has not played since October of 2018 with the Oakland Raiders, so he is fresh and can be an issue. However, getting caught up in his reunion with the Seahawks is a mistake.
Containing Russell Wilson remains the top priority for the 49ers in the final showdown.
Look no further than last week when the Arizona Cardinals limited Wilson profusely. It was why the Cardinals went into CenturyLink Field and handed the Seahawks a devastating loss. Adding Lynch this late in season after losing Carson is a great consolation for Seattle. However, he’s not an upgrade over Carson - who is easily the most overlooked running back in the NFL.
Even if Lynch can replicate Carson’s production, the threat level of Seattle does not change. It only changes if Lynch is able to truly be an upgrade over Carson. Measuring his above replacement level is what matters, not whether or not he’ll make a football impact. Lynch Should impact the game, but will he be over the top better than Carson?
That’s unlikely and is why staying focused on Wilson is still the No. 1 concern for the 49ers. With Lamar Jackson running away with the MVP award this season, some people tend to forget that Wilson is still playing at an MVP level. Just because he had a bad game against the Cardinals doesn’t mean he lessens as a threat. If he gets streaky during a game, then he easily becomes the best passer out there. Stopping him while he is red hot would be almost impossible.
In week 10, the 49ers did an excellent job slowing down Wilson. He wasn’t able to make great plays and arguably had his worst game of the season up to that point in the season. Even though the 49ers ended up losing that game - it definitely wasn't because of how Wilson performed. Robert Saleh is sure to look back at that game to replicate the game-plan to a certain degree. He can't out right mirror it because the Seahawks are sure to adjust to what they saw in week 10.
The 49ers also played the run well against Seattle. Carson made a sizeable impact, but nothing that really damaged the defense. Lynch could have some breakthroughs because of great he is at making defenders bounce off of him. But thinking he will play a major role and even produce incredible numbers is not realistic, especially against this defense.
Signing Lynch to sober up the damaging loss of Carson is a solid move for Seattle. Nevertheless, the focus will and should be Russell Wilson. If the 49ers cannot contain him, then emerging with a win will not be possible.