Seahawks vs. 49ers preview: What to watch for in Week 2

The Seahawks (1-0) look to remain No. 1 in the NFC West with a win over their division rivals on Sunday.

SEATTLE — Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith won the hearts of fans immediately after Seattle’s win over Russell Wilson’s Denver Broncos.

“They wrote me off,” Smith said after the Seahawks’ surprising 17:16 win on Monday night. “But I won’t write back.”

Smith’s viral comment after the game embodied the story of the 2022 Seahawks, a football team widely believed to be one of the league’s worst.

Instead, the Seahawks defeated their former franchise quarterback, at least for one night, who once defined their most successful run in team history.

Smith too has experienced a similar path full of naysayers. He was once a young quarterback with a chance to lead the New York Jets. He failed after two years. It got to him six full seasons working as a backup quarterback just to get another shot at redemption.

Now the unlikely pairing are hoping to continue turning their noses up at the people who wrote them off – one game at a time.

Let’s take a look at the Seahawks’ game against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend.

game info

  • Match: Seahawks (1-0) at 49ers (0-1)
  • Time: Sunday, 1:05 p.m
  • Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
  • Important Seahawks: Geno Smith (QB), DK Metcalf (WR), Jordyn Brooks (LB)
  • Key 49er: Trey Lance (QB), Deebo Samuel (WR), Nick Bosa (DE)

No. 1 in the division (for now)

I’m taking “Things You Didn’t Think Would Happen In Real Life” for $500, Alex. It probably won’t be long given the NFC West’s collective strength, but the Seahawks are the best team in the division with an unblemished 1-0 record.

The question now, of course, is whether the Seahawks can pull through an emotionally draining win on Monday night and refocus on a division rival just six days later.

TIED TOGETHER: Game-by-game predictions for the Seahawks

If the Seahawks can steal another game as big underdogs, suddenly the possibility of a 3-0 or 4-0 start to the season is a real possibility. Next up is a home game against the Falcons and a road meeting against the Lions.

Geno Smith, the game master

The Seahawks played nearly 60% of their plays in the season opener, a surprising number considering the Seahawks led most of the game.

However, the higher win rate didn’t really mean the Seahawks were expanding their offense.

The average depth of shot on Geno Smith’s 28 throws was just 5.1 yards, meaning the Seahawks focused on short pass concepts.

Smith finished the game with 195 passing yards, two touchdowns and a 7.0 yards-per-try walker — just like in his career. He was respectable and good enough to capitalize on a Broncos team that seemed content to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Can this model be sustainable to win football? It would take elite defense and excellent coaching to consistently win this way.

This conservative approach particularly hurt DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who rushed for just 64 yards on 10 catches.

At least the good news for Metcalf: He was targeted for 25% of his passing routes in the opening game, which is still an elite figure and matches his efficiency when Russell Wilson was his quarterback.

However, Lockett was only targeted on 15% of his 27 routes run, and he struggled with the quarterback switch. According to Player Profiler, he’s scored a goal on over 20% of his stretches under Wilson for the past three seasons.

The debut of Kenneth Walker III

Coach Pete Carroll said Walker III will play in Week 2 after missing the season opener with a hernia injury sustained last season.

Rashaad Penny led the backfield last week, playing 38 of 54 snaps (70%) and running 19 routes, according to Pro Football Focus. Travis Homer ran the other third of Seahawks routes as a pass catcher.

Now, Walker III, the second running back selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, will throw a wrench into the Seahawks’ running back hierarchy.

The Michigan State product may have to go up slowly in its first game due to injury and therefore have to play fewer snaps. But his claim for Penny’s lead role is undeniably a priority for the Seahawks in their long-term plans.

How the Seahawks split running back snaps will be a key area to watch Sunday afternoon.

injury report

The biggest injury to watch is 49ers tight end George Kittle, who missed the season opener with a groin injury. At that moment, the 49ers said Kittle will be a “game-time decision.”

Kittle trained for the first time on Friday after starting the week with multiple DNPs.

When he’s healthy, Kittle is one of the few bottlenecks in the league that can change entire game plans.

Kittle caught nine passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers’ last meeting against the Seahawks in 2021.

game prediction Seahawks vs. 49ers preview: What to watch for in Week 2

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