San Francisco 49ers Fight for NFC West Lead Thursday Night: Fan’s Take

Niners Strive to Bounce Back Against Seattle

Yahoo Contributor Network

The rematch of last season's NFC Championship Game was supposed to be a 60-minute, hard-fought battle between two of the top organizations in the NFL. Instead, the New York Giants had their way in all three phases of the game. The Giants proved that running through a Patrick Willis-led defense, forcing Alex Smith into turnovers and stopping the Niners' rushing attack was not impossible. With the Niners kicking off Week 7 on Thursday night, Jim Harbaugh and his team can quickly put this performance in the rear-view mirror and direct their attention to the Seattle Seahawks.

While the Niners suffered a disappointing defeat, Seattle enjoyed a last-minute win over the New England Patriots. Their most recent victory is a strong reflection of their head coach, Pete Carroll. Carroll is a firm believer in competition even among his own players, and that non-stop effort to compete payed off against the three-time Super Bowl champions. The Seahawks may not have many stars on the roster, but they are scrappy and find ways to win.

The front four of the Giants gave Alex Smith a lot of problems last week, so how will he fare against the Seattle secondary who features three Pro Bowlers? Cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner stand at 6'3'' and 6'4'' respectively, which gives them a size advantage against most receivers. Behind them, safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas can pick off passes and make the big hit. With the secondary's unique blend of size and speed, Smith (or even Colin Kaepernick) must take extra precaution in not turning the ball over.

As if their defensive backfield did not pose enough problems, the Niners could be without left tackle Joe Staley due to a concussion. The Seahawks are second in run defense but can also get after the quarterback with Chris Clemons and rookie Bruce Irvin. There are very few holes in Seattle's defense. If Frank Gore cannot get going early, it will be up to Smith and his receivers to convert on critical passing downs.

Russell Wilson has only played in six regular season games, but has shown poise in the pocket while helping lead his team to wins. However, it is Wilson's mobility that makes him unique. His legs allows him to extend plays, avoid sacks and scramble for tough yards to keep drives alive. His physical abilities make up for his lack of experience, which could present the Niners defense with problems.

San Francisco finished seventh in sacks last season, but they have had difficulty getting to quarterbacks this year. The Niners failed to record a single sack against the Minnesota Vikings or New York Giants, and Eli Manning seemingly had all day to throw last week; the Niners happened to lose both contests. If their front-seven cannot put pressure on Wilson, the Seahawks will wear down their defense with long drives led by Marshawn Lynch.

Sitting in third place of the NFC West, the Niners can vault right back into first with a victory. Seattle shares the same 4-2 record and is living up to their offseason hype. With the division lead at stake, the Niners must execute flawlessly for four quarters in order to defeat the "never-say-die" Seahawks.


Travis Chan is a longtime fan of the San Francisco 49ers, Giants and Golden State Warriors. He is also a contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Travischan1.

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