SERIES HISTORY: 40th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 24-15. Seattle holds the two largest winning streaks in the series, winning six consecutive games from 2003-2005 and maintaining a current nine-game win streak. Overall, the Seahawks have won 12 of the past 13 matchups, including a memorable 23-17 win in the 2013 NFC Championship Game. The 49ers' last home win over the Seahawks was 19-17 in Week 14 of the 2013 season.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll hinted that his team will be starting from scratch in preparation for the 49ers despite playing them less than two weeks ago. Though this strategy makes sense, the Seahawks shouldn't be afraid of using that prior matchup to help devise a game plan either. San Francisco's secondary aside from Richard Sherman has been hurt by injuries and Russell Wilson threw three touchdowns on his first six pass attempts on Dec. 2. While unlikely to repeat that feat, expect Seattle to feed running back Chris Carson early to help set up the play-action passing attack with hopes Wilson can capitalize on the porous secondary for the second time in a month.
Defensively, pressure and tackling will be the biggest keys for Seattle. Led by defensive tackle Jarran Reed's six quarterback hits, the Seahawks were able to get Nick Mullens to the turf all afternoon. But as a credit to the second-year quarterback, he kept fighting back and benefited greatly from horrific tackling in the secondary during the second half of the first matchup. He wound up throwing for over 400 yards, with big chunks of that yardage coming after the catch.
The 49ers were surprisingly successful in shutting down the Denver running game in the Week 14 home win over the Broncos, and would significantly increase their chances of winning by doing the same against the Seahawks.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--OUT: S Maurice Alexander (concussion)
--DOUBTFUL: G/T D.J. Fluker (hamstring)
--QUESTIONABLE: WR Doug Baldwin (hip), S Bradley McDougald (hamstring), DT Jarran Reed (oblique)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
--OUT: S Jaquiski Tartt (shoulder)
--QUESTIONABLE: RB Matt Breida (ankle), WR Marquise Goodwin (calf), DL Cassius Marsh (concussion), LB Mark Nzeocha (groin), WR Dante Pettis (foot), CB K’Waun Williams (knee)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--49ers TE George Kittle vs. Seahawks SS Bradley McDougald. The more the 49ers can occupy McDougald in run support, the better the chances of freeing up their most potential offensive weapon -- Kittle -- in the Seattle secondary. Kittle got free for just 70 yards (low by his standards) in the earlier loss at Seattle.
--Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett vs. 49ers CB Richard Sherman. When these two teams met in Week 13, all eyes were on Doug Baldwin facing off against his long-time college and NFL teammate Sherman. But with Baldwin spending the vast majority of his time running routes out of the slot, the two players weren't matched up against one another very often. Baldwin missed last week's game with a groin injury and may not be available for this rematch, making the contrasting battle between the speedy Lockett and physical Sherman a spectacle worth watching closely.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Seahawks LB Austin Calitro. The Seahawks hoped Mychal Kendricks would be able to give the defense a lift replacing K.J. Wright at weak-side linebacker upon returning from suspension last week. But after miraculously finishing the game with a fractured tibia as well as a knee injury, he was placed on injured reserve, moving Calitro back into the starting lineup. When called upon this season, Calitro has played well and finished with a career-high 10 tackles when Seattle beat San Francisco in Week 13.
FAST FACTS: SEAHAWKS QB RUSSELL WILSON passed for 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs with 140.9 rating in Week 13 meeting. Ranks 4th in NFL with 111 passer rating. ... RB CHRIS CARSON had 90 rush yards & TD last week. ... WR TYLER LOCKETT has career-high 755 rec. yards & 9 TD catches in 2018. ... WR DOUG BALDWIN has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3. ... LB BOBBY WAGNER led team with 9 tackles & blocked FG last week. Aims for his 8th in row with 8+ tackles. Had 12 tackles, sack, FF, FR, 2 PD & 98-yard INT-TD in Week 13 meeting. Is 1 of 2 (COREY LITTLETON) with 100+ tackles (106) & 10+ PDs (11). ... S BRADLEY McDOUGALD has 5+ tackles in 6 of his past 7 vs. NFC West. ... 49ERS QB NICK MULLENS completed 20 of 33 (60.6 pct.) for 332 yards with 2 TDs & 1 INT for 102.1 rating last week. Passed for career-high 414 yards with 2 TDs vs. 1 INT for 95.3 rating in Week 13 meeting. Aims for 3rd in row with 300+ yards & 2+ TD passes. ... RB JEFF WILSON JR. (rookie) rushed for 90 yards last week. Had career-high 134 scrimmage yards (73 rec., 61 rush) in Week 13 meeting. ... RB MATT BREIDA has 100+ scrimmage yards in 2 of his past 3. Ranks 2nd in NFL with 5.6 yards per carry average (min. 100 attempts). ... TE GEORGE KITTLE had 7 catches for 210 yards last week, highest single-game total by TE in franchise history & 3rd-highest by TE in single game in NFL history. Ranks 2nd among TEs in rec. yards (1,103) & 3rd in receptions (69) this season & is 1st TE in franchise history with 1,000+ rec. yards in single season. Is 1 of 2 players (CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY) with 700+ YAC (708) in 2018. ... Rookie WR DANTE PETTIS aims for 4th in row with TD catch. Ranks 3rd among rookies with 5 rec. TDs in 2018. ... DL DeFOREST BUCKNER has 4.5 sacks in his past 5. ... Rookie DB D.J. REED had career-high 12 tackles & both 1st-career sack & FF last week.
PREDICTION: The Seahawks are rolling, having won four straight games to put themselves in position for a playoff spot. They won't be derailed by the gritty 49ers.
OUR PICK: Seahawks, 27-20