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San Francisco 49ers: Front Seven Key to Defeating Seattle Seahawks

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | After coming off an impressive Week 1 victory over the Green Bay Packers, the San Francisco 49ers are gearing up to take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

This heated rivalry will feature two of the top teams in the NFL. From the fans to the players, both organizations clearly don't like one another. But in order for the 49ers to come out with a win, Aldon Smith and Co. must put consistent pressure on the mobile Russell Wilson.

Last week against Green Bay, Smith led his team with two sacks. But more importantly, other members of the front seven stepped up. Justin Smith appears to be back to his normal self, collapsing the pocket while pressuring Aaron Rodgers. The linebacking duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman picked up where they left off last season, stuffing the run for most of the day.

Squaring off against the Seahawks, the 49ers will be faced with a more balanced offense. Last year in Seattle, the 49ers held Wilson to just 171 passing yards, but he still threw for four touchdowns and ran for 29 yards.

Although the Seahawks offense hung 35 points on the vaunted 49ers defense, San Francisco played without its "engine" in Justin Smith. A case could be made that he is their most important player. Ever since he tore his triceps in Week 15 against the New England Patriots, the defense has slipped throughout their playoff run.

Fast-forward to Week 2 of the 2013 season, the 13-year pro is back to full strength and the defense brings back nine of its 11 starters. Aldon Smith is already experiencing the benefits of having him in the lineup, as he was in the face of Rodgers for much of the afternoon in the season opener.

However, wrapping up Wilson is no easy task based on his ability to extend plays. Seattle also returns all five members of its starting offensive line from last season, so there should be further continuity within the pocket.

Marshawn Lynch sets the tempo for the Seahawks. His bruising running style can wear down any defense, making it vital that the 49ers slow him down early. Over his last three games against the Red and Gold, Lynch has averaged just over 125 total yards to go along with three touchdowns.

The 49ers may have held Eddie Lacy and the Packers to just 3.3 yards per carry, but the Seahawks are a much more potent rushing team, especially at home. The 49ers know what they'll be getting out of their starting linebackers, Smith and Ray McDonald. But the difference makers could hinge on the performance of nose tackle Ian Williams and defensive end Glenn Dorsey.

Despite receiving just his first career start last week, the 49ers believe in Williams, signing him to a two-year extension this past offseason. While Dorsey has had an up-and-down career in Kansas City, he is a premier run defender when healthy.

Both linemen only played a total of 19 snaps last week, but going up against a run-first team may demand more of their services.

It will be up to the guys in the trenches to get after Wilson and his running backs early. Failure to do so could result in a long night at CenturyLink Field.

Travis Chan is a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers. He is currently covering the team on the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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