Seahawks vs 49er preview: Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly renew Pac-12 rivalry at the NFL level
Old Pac-12 rivals Chip Kelly (left) and Pete Carroll face off on Sunday (www.csnphilly.com)
Old Pac-12 rivals Chip Kelly (left) and Pete Carroll face off on Sunday (www.csnphilly.com)

Nine years ago had USC’s Pete Carroll and Oregon’s Chip Kelly faced off, UW Husky football fans would have rooted for a meteor to take out both teams.  This Sunday however, your Seattle Seahawks, led by Pete, and those Santa Clara 49ers, led by Chip, face-off in a rivalry match.

Both teams have their share of problems.

Blaine Gabbert’s arm

Image result for blaine gabbert stats
#7 Kaepernick replaced by Blaine Gabbert (right). Image courtesy of www.cbssports.com

We have seen the 49er score 55 combined points over two games,  a great output by this team but that number masks a deeper problem, Blaine Gabbert and his accuracy.  Gabbet has never been a particularly accurate passer with a lifetime 56% completion percentage and he is proving that yet again this year.

On 71 attempts, Gabbert has only completed 39 for 413 yards—75 of those yards are one play. His average per attempt is a league low 5.82 and Gabbert already has 2 interceptions. If the Hawks can get any kind of pressure, it will lead to a stagnant air attack by the 49ers.

Russell Wilson’s ankle

Hawks fans were not impressed by what we saw from the offensive line, and it has become even more clear after these years that Russell Wilson’s speed and elusiveness are what kept the Hawks offense afloat in spite of the offensive line. Without the speed, the offense has only generated 15 points on the season.

Without a healthy ankle, Wilson has been unable to ward off oncoming pass rushers. Several times, over the last two games, we saw Wilson unable to escape that he should’ve escaped—if healthy.  An amazing runner, we have seen Russell only for run 9 times (for 30 yards) in 2 games.  This is far below his career average of 37 yards per game on the ground.

When the Seahawks are on offense

Look for the entire offense to go through running back Christine Michael and Jimmy Graham. With a beat up Thomas Rawls and Doug Baldwin.  Offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell will need to exploit a terrible 49er middle of the field.  Last week, the 49ers were unable to bottle up Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen.  Jimmy is capable of out playing a Greg Olsen, we need to see Bevell dial him up.

The 49er defense is hyper aggressive, so long developing plays will be a bad choice.  Bevell will need to simplify what this offensive line has to do and ask them to run less complicated running plays that get Micheal the ball quickly and use his speed to the line as running wide on this 49er team would prove to be a mistake. A lot of counters and traps would be the best bet.

When the Seahawks are on defense

Chip Kelly is running his Oregon Blur offense with the 49ers. He hasn’t changed his approach and will still hike the ball under 15 seconds.  In 2 games the offense has amassed a decent 622 yards and 7 touchdowns.  The numbers aren’t bad for a team that is rebuilding.

The hurry up offense will require that the Hawks play a base defense and play it smartly. The Hawks just need to line up and play conservatively as they are man for man better than pretty much every offensive player on the 49ers.

Colin Kaepernick on the cover of Time Magazine

We won’t devote too much time to Colin in this article, but it is important to note that he does have the backing of his coach. With the poor effort by the starting QB Blaine Gabbert, it may only be time before Kaepernick sees the field.

Full quote from 49ers coach Chip Kelly on QB Colin Kaepernick appearing on cover of Time Magazine: “I think it’s an issue, you look at what’s gone on in Tulsa and Charlotte the last two nights, it’s an issue that’s at the forefront of our country and it needs to be addressed and needs to be taken care of because what’s going on is not right,” Kelly said. “I think, again, he’s shedding light on a situation that is heinous and shouldn’t happen in this country. We all have inalienable rights as a citizen of this country and they’re being violated and that’s what I think Colin is standing up for.”

Key stats

Pete Carroll and Chip Kelly are known for run first offenses that wear down defense. This year it would be hard to tell that is the case for both the Seahawks and 49ers who tie for 26th in the league for yards per carry.  Both teams average an abysmal 3.2 yards per carry.

But it isn’t like either team is lighting it up through the air; both the Hawks (240 yards per game) and the 49ers (204 yards per game) have been unable to string together drives. Each team ranks in the bottom 1/3rd of the NFL.

Defensively, the Seahawks have been the best in the league.  They rank #1 only allowing 248 total yards per game and #1 in scoring defense allowing a league best 9.5 points per game.

The 49ers have been ok on yardage allowing 357 yards per game.  But have been Jekell and Hyde on allowing other teams to score.  Against the LA Rams, the 49ers shut out the Rams offense only to fall apart vs the Carolina Panthers allowing 46 points.

SSU prediction

The only reason the Hawks would lose this is if that ankle of Russell Wilson’s gets worse.  Hawks are too good on defense to give up many points.  If Darrel Bevell can get his act together and dial-up Jimmy Graham, the Hawks should win handily.  Seahawks over 49ers 21-14.

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News Reporter
Abraham DeWeese is an avid local sports fan and a “Man-About-Town” in the Seattle sports scene. He's a lifelong resident of the Seattle area, living in the beautiful Greenlake neighborhood.