The good news?
The Seahawks will still have mathematical hopes for making the playoffs even if they lose to the 49ers at Lumen Field Sunday.
The bad news?
Those playoff hopes are already so small you basically need the Hubble Telescope to see them.
So, for Sunday, the bigger goal for the Seahawks is simply winning a game and feeling good about themselves again, even if just for a few hours.
And maybe the sight of the 49ers — not only a longtime rival but one of only three teams Seattle has beaten this season (28-21 on Oct. 3) — will spur the Seahawks on.
Onto our keys to the game.
49ers DE Nick Bosa vs. Seahawks offensive tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell
Bosa, the second overall pick in 2019, is tied for fourth in the NFL with 11 sacks, getting at least one in all but three games this season. Bosa lines up on either side, and in the first game against the Seahawks got a sack when going against Brown.
He had five total pressures in that game, via Pro Football Focus, and got what was his second-highest pass rush grade of the season. Brown has steadied his play of late while Shell has been somewhat up and down (he didn’t play in the first game due to injury with the since-released Cedric Ogbuehi starting) but didn’t allow any pressures Monday.
QB Russell Wilson
Before this season Wilson had never lost more than two consecutive starts. Suddenly, he’s lost four in a row — the last three weeks after returning from a right middle finger injury and surgery, and the Oct. 7 game against the Rams in which he was hurt, with Seattle trailing 16-7 when he left.
Wilson had a 10-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio before he was sidelined but is at 2-2 in the three games since he returned — which doesn’t include the two-point play on Monday against WFT. And he’s thrown for 7.97 yards per attempt or less in all three games since he returned after throwing for 9.31 or better in four of five games before he was hurt.
In other words, and as the eye test has made as obvious as any stat, he just hasn’t been the same since he returned. A 49er team allowing 5.3 yards per play, tied for sixth in the NFL, will be a tough test. But Seattle needs Wilson to bounce back soon if the season is to avoid becoming a complete disaster.
This is another week where coach Pete Carroll has stressed the importance of trying to get the running game going to help the overall offense, one reason the team brought in 36-year-old Adrian Peterson to beef up an injury-riddled running back corps.
Seattle is 14th in the NFL for the season in passing play percentage, throwing it 59.16% of the time. But that number has skyrocketed to 69.28% in the last three games since Wilson returned from injury. Being behind most of the time has been a factor.
But Seattle also has not been able to run it consistently well enough to keep the ball for very long. The 49ers are allowing 4.3 yards per carry, 18th in the NFL, but in their current three-game winning streak haven’t allowed more than 67 against the Rams, Jaguars and Vikings. Still, expect Seattle to give the running game a major shot Sunday.
Carroll used exactly that word following Monday’s gut-wrenching loss at Washington when asked about the challenge keeping the team together in the face of the team’s hopes for this season seeming realistically dashed.
”We’re going to play for the pride of it,” Carroll said. “We’re going to play for the people that we are and we’re going to represent. I don’t know how else to look at it but that way.”
Will the players? The reality is, most are also playing for their NFL futures and contracts down the road, and that pragmatism shouldn’t be underrated. But Carroll can also point to the end of WFT as evidence that the Seahawks won’t give up. Each week from here on out, though, will present its own test of the team’s perseverance.
RB Adrian Peterson
That Peterson played just two weeks ago with Tennessee means that physically he should be ready to go Sunday, assuming he has enough command of the playbook.
What can Seattle expect out of Peterson?
That he also has played only three games this season means he should have fresh legs — as fresh as possible at 36, anyway — and at this point, even a momentary spark to the running game would be welcome.