The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco share only one thing in common – they share identical 2-1 records and the NFC West lead going into Week 4. That’s where the similarities end as the Seahawks visit San Francisco in a key divisional matchup pitting two of the top NFL running backs – the Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander and the 49ers’ Frank Gore.
The Seahawks aren’t one-dimensional, though; while it is true they have Alexander (66 carries, 275 yards, 2 touchdowns), they also have a decent quarterback in Matt Hasslebeck (63-for-97, 751 yards, 5 TD’s, 2 INT’s). Also contributing to the passing attack are wide receivers Deion Branch (13-199-1 TD), Bobby Engram (13-197-1 TD) and Nate Burleson (10-156-2 TD’s). The Seahawks’ defense, while ranked 26th overall, has allowed only 50 points. This suggests to me that their defense is a “bend but don’t break” variety.
The 49ers, on the other hand, are what one may call “offensively-challenged”. They’re led by Gore (52 carries, 175 yards, 3 TD’s), but the up-and-coming defense is what has elevated the 49ers to near the top of their division. Led by rookie linebacker Patrick Willis (26 tackles, 19 solo) and defensive end Bryant Young (13 tackles, 12 solo, 4 sacks), the 49ers’ defense has kept the team afloat to this point, despite their #19 ranking.
Alexander looks to improve on his numbers despite having a cracked bone in his wrist while Gore simply wants to return back to the Gore of last year. Expect Alexander to have his usual solid effort this weekend and Hasslebeck to be efficient in his passing; Gore should be fine Sunday, but quarterback Alex Smith may have problems with the Seahawks’ pass rush which will seal the 49ers’ fate in a Seahawks victory.