The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2015 NFL season as the defending NFC champions. The team added one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Jimmy Graham and looked to repeat their dominant performance. The San Francisco 49ers finished 8-8 in 2014 and fired the head coach that took them to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship games in the previous seasons. No one expected them to recover from the coaching change and expectations for 2015 were low. After the first six games of the 2015 NFL season, both teams sit at 2-4 and are in last place in the NFC West. Here is a look at the Thursday Night Football game this week, where both teams try to turn things around.
What's Wrong With Seattle?
The Seattle Seahawks have lost four games this season, including losses to a division rival in the St. Louis Rams. Their only wins came against a struggling Detroit Lions team and a Chicago Bears team that was missing starting quarterback Jay Cutler and number one wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. However, things might not be all bad for Seattle. Their losses came against three undefeated teams in the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. No one has beaten those teams yet. With that said, only the Rams loss is puzzling and the Seahawks still have a solid chance of turning things around.
What's Wrong With San Francisco?
With Jim Harbaugh now coaching the Michigan Wolverines in college, the 49ers are trying to figure out their new identity. One of the biggest problems in San Francisco is that the 49ers don't have offensive weapons. Frank Gore is gone and Carlos Hyde is trying to make his name. He has 430 yards through six games but hasn't broken 100 yards since the first game of the season. Without a rushing attack, Colin Kaepernick needs to make plays and he is not capable of doing that on his own. Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith are the best two wide receivers the 49ers have had in years, but this 49ers team hasn't been able to make plays and Kaepernick has five interceptions and six touchdown passes through six games.
Seattle and San Francisco History
When this game was about Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll coaching against each other, it was about whose defense would smash the other in the mouth to win. Jim Tomsula was a defensive line coach before they hired him to lead their team as head coach, so the pedigree is nowhere near as distinguished. In the team's history, Seattle holds an 18-15 victory margin over San Francisco, although the Seahawks have gone 16-11 since moving to the NFC and becoming a divisional rival of the 49ers. In the four years that Harbaugh coached San Francisco, the two teams went an even 4-4 in the regular season with the Seahawks also winning a playoff game in 2013. One of the two teams have played in the last three Super Bowls.
Keys to Victory
The good news is that one of these teams has to win, outside of the rare chance for a tie. While defense is where the two teams have always dominated, San Francisco ranks a low 30th in the NFL in total defense, 28th against the pass and 20th against the run. Seattle is eighth against the run and 11th against the pass for eighth overall. Since Kaepernick struggles against tough defenses, that gives Seattle an advantage. Seattle also ranks higher on offense, at 13th in total offense. With Marshawn Lynch returning to full strength from injury problems, that opens up an area that has plagued Seattle in their losses. This is a game Seattle should win.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.
for more features.