Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francsico 49ers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

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Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI
Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI | License Photo


KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Levi's Stadium. TV: CBS, Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Kristina Pink (field reporter).


SERIES HISTORY: 38th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 22-15. The Seahawks have won seven in a row, including the last three meetings at San Francisco. The 49ers' last win was 19-17 at San Francisco on Dec. 8, 2013. The teams have met just once in the postseason, with Seattle winning 23-17 at home in the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

KEYS TO THE GAME: One thing became painfully (for Seahawks fans) obvious during Seattle's heartbreaking 34-31 loss to Atlanta on Monday: Russell Wilson needs some help.

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Wilson looked like a wizard at times, wending his way through Falcons pass rushers, turning 10-yard losses into runs for first downs. He rushed for 86 yards and threw for 258 and two scores, accounting for all but 50 of Seattle's 360 yards. He was also sacked three times.

The Seahawks need to find a run game. Not one of the collection of backs has been effective since rookie Chris Carson was lost for the season.


On defense, the Seahawks once-vaunted Legion of Boom now resembles a M*A*S*H. unit. Without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, Byron Maxwell will fill out a defensive backfield anchored by Pro Bowler Earl Thomas.

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Up front, Seattle will try to slow down San Francisco running back Carlos Hyde, who ran for 124 yards in the first meeting, a 12-9 Seahawks win in September.

C.J. Beathard, who played well in the 49ers' first win of the season, 31-21 over the Giants two weeks ago, will again start at quarterback again. Although Beathard's scrambling ability wouldn't be confused with Wilson's, he does present the Seahawks with a challenge. Beathard has scored on the ground four times in five games.


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--Seahawks LG Luke Joeckel vs. 49ers DT DeForest Buckner. If Joeckel is able to play, he will face a formidable matchup in Buckner. Buckner caused problems for Seattle in their first matchup in September and could pose a challenge for Joeckel if he's not back to full strength just yet.

--49ers WR Marquise Goodwin vs. Seahawks CB Justin Coleman. The 49ers finally connected with the speedy Goodwin on a long touchdown pass in their last game. Now he'll seek an encore against a secondary desperate for healthy bodies. And if C.J. Beathard can't do it, then maybe Jimmy Garoppolo can.


PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell. If Shaquill Griffin is unable to play due to a concussion, Maxwell will be back in the starting lineup for Seattle just a week after re-signing with the team. The loss of Richard Sherman to a torn Achilles moved Jeremy Lane into the starting lineup. Griffin's absence would necessitate another replacement.

FAST FACTS: Seattle QB Russell Wilson is 4-0 with 959 passing yards and six touchdowns in the past four meetings. He passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns and added 86 rushing yards and a touchdown last week. He has led Seattle in rushing yards in three of the past four games. ... WR Doug Baldwin has 243 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his past three games. In his past four on the road, he has 28 catches for 329 yards and two touchdowns. Since 2015, he ranks third in the NFL with 25 touchdown catches. ... TE Jimmy Graham leads the NFC with seven touchdown catches and ranks first among NFC TEs with 46 receptions. He has three receiving touchdowns in his past two games. He has three touchdowns in his past two division games. ... WR Paul Richardson has three touchdown catches in his past five games. ... LB Bobby Wagner ranks second in the NFL with 92 tackles. In the past three meetings, he has 25 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Since 2014, he leads the NFL with 477 tackles. ... LB K.J. Wright has 22 tackles and sack in past three vs. San Francisco. Since 2013, Wagner (596) and Wright (507) are the only pair of teammates with 500 tackles. ... 49ers QB C.J. Beathard completed 19 of 25 for 288 yards and two touchdowns for a career-high 123.4 rating in Week 10. He aims for a third game in a row with a rushing touchdown. ... RB Carlos Hyde has 229 yards from scrimmage in the past two games. In his past 10 home games, he has 1,084 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns (six rushing). He has 227 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his past two games vs. Seattle. ... WR Marquise Goodwin had an 83-yard touchdown catch in Week 10. He has 293 receiving yards (73.3 per game) and a touchdown in his past four games at home. He is tied for team lead with 500 receiving yards. ... Rookie LB Reuben Foster led the team with 10 tackles in Week 10. He aims for his third game in a row with 10-plus tackles.


PREDICTION: The Seahawks, who trail the Rams, Falcons and Lions in the wild-card standings, know what's at stake and are unlikely to underestimate the one-win 49ers. But, if quarterback C.J. Beathard is efficient against the Seattle defense, San Francisco can keep it close.

OUR PICK: Seahawks, 26-19.

--Ched Whitney

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