The San Francisco 49ers opened their 2022 season with a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears. Heading into Week Two, the 49ers will host their division rival Seattle Seahawks for the home opener at Levi’s Stadium this Sunday. Here are three keys to a bounce-back Niners win.
49ers Running Game
San Francisco will be without their starting running back, Elijah Mitchell, for two months due to an MCL sprain. In the meantime, somebody else needs to step up in the backfield to fill that void in the offense. Shanahan stated this week that he would roll with the “hot hand” when it comes to the running back position which insinuates that the starting job during Mitchell’s absence is up for grabs.
Jeff Wilson Jr. came into the game in Chicago, but he struggled only averaging 2.4 yards per carry. This Sunday against Seattle could be an opportunity for rookie running backs Tyrion Davis-Price and Jordan Mason. The Niners need a reliable starter who can at least be steady for the next couple of months. Look for one of the youngsters to step up to the plate on Sunday. No matter who is lined up in the backfield, they have to do well.
Starting tight-end George Kittle also returned to practice this week after suffering a groin injury the week before. If Kittle plays, it should open up the entire offense, but it would especially benefit the running game tremendously due to his run-blocking ability.
The Seahawks also struggled to stop the run against the Denver Broncos in Week One. With likely another rainy game coming up, look for the Niners to exploit Seattle’s run defense.
The 49ers Need To Play Disciplined
One huge factor in the Niners’ Week One loss was their 12 penalties which gave up 99 yards and five first downs to the Bears. Interestingly, the Broncos lost to the Seahawks in similar circumstances. Both the 49ers and Broncos dominated in yards and won the time of possession. However, they both also committed 12 penalties giving up the length of the field to the other team while also losing the turnover battle two to one.
The Seahawks benefitted from a lack of discipline similar to the Bears. The 49ers have to play a clean game and not beat themselves for the second straight week. If the Niners don’t make too many mistakes there is a chance that this game won’t be close. The last thing you would want if you’re the Niners is to outplay your opponents, but lose the game because of self-inflicted wounds and start the season 0-2.
Keep an eye on how many penalties are called on the 49ers. If we include the preseason, the 49ers have been called for double-digit penalties in three straight games. This trend needs to stop now.
Contain Seahawks Playmakers
The Seattle Seahawks may not have a top-tier roster. They are in a full rebuild at this moment. That being said, they do have some playmakers who can score on a single play when it comes to wideouts D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The 49ers’ secondary will be key in making sure that they don’t break free into open space for easy touchdowns. The two touchdowns they gave up last week in Chicago were due to weaknesses in coverage.
While one could say Justin Fields is a better quarterback than Geno Smith, the Seahawks also have much better receivers. Tight end Noah Fant is also worth mentioning as he was dealt to Seattle this off-season as a part of the Russell Wilson trade with the Broncos. The pass rush of the Niners should play a big part in not allowing any big plays to develop, but the secondary still needs to play tight coverage. Look for Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Samuel Womack and Talanoa Hufanga to be crucial in the outcome of this game.