Back in action on a short week following Monday's loss in Washington, the Seahawks will look to snap a three-game losing streak and complete a season sweep against the rival 49ers at Lumen Field.
Which matchups will be most crucial determining which NFC West squad earns a late-season divisional win? Here are five battles to watch closely in Week 13:
--Seahawks running backs and tight ends versus 49ers linebackers Azeez Al-Shaair, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, and Tyrell Adams/Justin March: While San Francisco hasn't ruled out All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner, he's listed as doubtful to play on Sunday with a hamstring injury and the team already will be without Dre Greenlaw and Marcell Harris, leaving the team incredibly short-handed at the position. The 228-pound Al-Shaair has been decent against the run, but quarterbacks have had a field day testing him in coverage, as he has allowed 43 receptions for 395 yards and three touchdowns on 54 targets. Flannigan-Fowles, a former undrafted signee out of Arizona, has only played 137 defensive snaps in his entire career and weighs under 225 pounds. Without Harris available, Adams and March could vie for defensive snaps after being Aside from DeeJay Dallas and Adrian Peterson, it remains unclear who else Seattle will have available in the backfield, but the team should be able to find success running the ball if its backs can get to the second level. Gerald Everett and Will Dissly may find themselves with some very advantageous matchups in the passing game without Warner or Greenlaw to help cover them as well.
--Seahawks linebackers Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks versus 49ers running backs Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., and JaMycal Hasty: When these two teams met back in October, the 49ers were struggling to get their running game untracked. But since then, Mitchell has emerged as one of the NFL's best young backs, rushing for at least 90 yards in four of the team's past five games and adding 88 yards as a receiver during that span. As a team, San Francisco has averaged 178 rushing yards per game in a three-game winning streak and mad scientist Kyle Shanahan has once again found his groove destroying defenses via shrewd scheming on the ground. Mixing in plenty of pre-snap motion, the 49ers love to create extra gaps for defenses to account for and Wagner and Brooks will have to keep their head on a swivel to help plug up those gaps and contain Mitchell and his backfield counterparts. As has been the case all season, they will need to be prepared for frequent screens as well with Mitchell, Wilson Jr., and Hasty all being capable receivers who can create after the catch.
--Seahawks tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell versus 49ers defensive ends Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Samson Ebukam: Overall, the 49ers haven't been near as dominant getting after opposing quarterbacks as they were in the past couple of seasons. Per TruMedia, they rank 22nd in the NFL in sacks, 19th in sack percentage per 100 drop backs, and 31st in quarterback pressures. But Bosa still remains one of the NFL's premier rushers with 11.0 sacks, the fourth-most in the league, as well as 24 quarterback hits and 39 total pressures. Going against a less-than-100 percent Brown, he could be in line for a huge day, while Ebukam's quickness could pose problems for Shell on the right side. Meanwhile, Armstead's size and versatility should allow him to wreak havoc in the interior against third-string left guard Kyle Fuller while also getting his share of reps rushing from defensive end. Seattle will likely need to keep a tight end or running back in regularly to chip against Bosa and hope Shell can consistently win one-on-one against Ebukam or Armstead to give Russell Wilson a chance to unload the football from the pocket.
--Seahawks safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs versus 49ers tight end George Kittle: Minus playmaking superstar Deebo Samuel, the 49ers will have to lean more heavily on Kittle, who has been surprisingly quiet over the past two games with just five catches for 37 yards. In fact, he has only two touchdowns and 425 receiving yards all season, which may not necessarily be a good omen for the Seahawks. But if there's a matchup that led to Seattle's decision to trade for Adams, it was this one, as the team banked on the physical safety holding his own in coverage against one of the best tight ends in the game. Back in Week 4, he did just that, allowing one catch on four targets when covering Kittle, including whacking him in the end zone to break up a potential touchdown in the fourth quarter. Despite his smallish stature, Diggs has also battled Kittle down the seam on several occasions, chipping in to help break up the aforementioned touchdown and allowing a 41-yard reception on a tightly-contested pass in Week 17 last year. The standout center fielder will need to be ready for the 49ers to try to get the ball downfield to one of their best playmakers in Sunday's rematch.
--Seahawks receivers DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Dee Eskridge versus 49ers cornerbacks Emmanuel Moseley, Josh Norman, and K'Waun Williams: Norman and Williams didn't suit up last time these two teams met, so from a health standpoint, the 49ers will be in much better shape this time around in the secondary. Still, Metcalf has had his way in the past against Moseley defending him in coverage, catching 16 passes for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns in four games. Lockett has enjoyed several big games against San Francisco in the past as well, including scoring two touchdowns in a win against the rival in Week 17 last year. The X-factor in this game could be Eskridge, who has slowly started to work his way into more playing time since coming back from a concussion in mid-October. The second-round pick out of Western Michigan had two receptions last week and his speed could be a real problem out of the slot for Williams, who has allowed an 80 percent completion percentage on 35 targets with 146 yards after the catch. Of course, all this hedges on Seattle protecting Wilson well enough for him to get the ball to his wideouts.