Seahawks-49ers rivalry returns to center stage after dormant stretch | NevadaAppeal.com

Seahawks-49ers rivalry returns to center stage after dormant stretch

Josh Dubow
AP Pro Football Writer
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half of an NFL football game, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Trash talking between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree. Barbs traded between coaches Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh. Incredible plays from Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick.

The once-fierce rivalry between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco had a bit of everything during a heated stretch early this decade capped by Seattle’s epic win in the NFC title game in January 2014.

Now for the first time in years, this game between NFC West rivals means a lot again heading into Monday night’s showdown between the Seahawks (7-2) and 49ers (8-0).

“We haven’t held up our end of the bargain the last few years, but this is an exciting game,” said 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, one of the only remaining players in San Francisco from the heyday of this rivalry. “There’s a lot riding on this game. It’s meaningful. But, at the same token, we can’t look at it as anything different. One of the reasons why we’ve been successful is we haven’t changed. We’ve been doing exactly what we’ve been doing all year from training camp to now, just continuing to do the same things.”

This is the first time since Thanksgiving night in 2014 where both teams have a winning record. Seattle won that game 19-3, prompting a Twitter apology to 49ers fans from CEO Jed York and a turkey celebration dinner for Wilson and Sherman at midfield of San Francisco’s home.

Harbaugh was forced out following the season and the 49ers won just 17 games in the next four seasons, taking most of the steam out of the rivalry.

But now with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo set to make his first start against Seattle after missing both meetings last year with a season-ending knee injury in Week 3 and a much-improved defense in San Francisco, the 49ers have more than enough to match up with Wilson and the Seahawks in coach Kyle Shanahan’s third season.

“They’ve come a long way in a short time, and Kyle’s done a really nice job to turn the corner to get to this point,” Carroll said. “Just judging off the last couple of years, they’ve always shown really good signs. This is a high-tech team, they’re on their stuff; their schemes, their principles are really good. They’ve always been that, they just had trouble getting it all together and getting their wins but, they’re together now. They really are sharp in all aspects of their team.”

AIR RAID

Seattle’s pass defense used to be among the elite of the NFL. Now it ranks near the bottom of the league.

The Seahawks are giving up 278 yards per game through the air, ranking 28th in the league, and have been really bad in the past two games. Seattle gave up 460 yards passing to Matt Schaub and Atlanta two weeks ago, although the yards could be reasoned because the Seahawks built a 24-0 lead and the Falcons were forced to throw in trying to catch up.

Last week against Tampa Bay may have been more concerning. Jameis Winston was barely pressured by Seattle’s meager pass rush and a quarterback with a knack for careless throws made none, throwing for 335 yards and two touchdowns.

Surprisingly, Seattle is 4-0 this year when allowing more than 300 yards passing, but those four wins are by a combined 15 points.

REPLACING KWON

The 49ers suffered a big loss last week when linebacker Kwon Alexander went down with a season-ending torn left pectoral muscle. Alexander had 34 tackles, one forced fumble, one interception and four pass breakups and was considered the heart and soul of the defense. Rookie Dre Greenlaw will replace him.

“Since Day 1, the defense has been what it is because of him,” starting middle linebacker Fred Warner said. “He was playing at a Pro Bowl level, but the things people didn’t notice is what really made him stand apart.”

GETTING HEALTHY

The Niners should be getting several key pieces back this week, with left tackle Joe Staley expected to return from a broken leg that sidelined him in Week 2. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk could return from a knee injury and right tackle Mike McGlinchey (knee) also might be back.