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The Opposing View: An Insider's Look At The Seahawks' Week 12 Opponent, The San Francisco 49ers

Five questions from about this week’s opponent; five answers from team reporter Lindsey Pallares.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The Seahawks host the 49ers at Lumen Field on Thursday night, a Thanksgiving showdown that will be the first of two meetings between these teams in the span of 18 days. To help you get ready for this week's game, we reached out to team reporter Lindsey Pallares with five questions about Seattle's Week 12 opponent:

Health has obviously been a big part of it, but what other factors have led to the 49ers turning things around with two big wins following a three-game losing streak?

Pallares: The return of wide receiver Deebo Samuel and left tackle Trent Williams cannot be overstated, and their returns did a lot of good in terms of opening up the offense. With Williams, you've got one of the best run blockers in the game, and you can see that immediately reflected in the production of the ground game. With Williams injured/out over Weeks 6-8, the 49ers were averaging roughly 95 yards in that three-game span, and with him back, San Francisco has averaged just under 130 rushing yards a game. As far as Samuel is concerned, he's a hybrid weapon that can help take some of the attention off running back Christian McCaffrey because opposing defenses have to gameplan for him, and one of the trademarks of his game are the yards after catch which he continually flashes.

Aside from the health of these two very important playmakers, we've heard head coach Kyle Shanahan and several players speak about it, and they chalk it up to returning to what worked in those first five games of the season. The 49ers play fast, physical and on the defensive side of the ball, production up front leads to success in the secondary. The addition of Chase Young at the trade deadline was a nice boost to an already stacked D-line, and San Francisco was able to disrupt Trevor Lawrence (five sacks) as well extinguish any kind of run game for the Jaguars, holding them to 59 yards on the ground. On offense, Brock Purdy has taken care of the ball well and been precise in the passing game, and Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle have been two of his top targets, catching nearly everything thrown their way.

What has gone into Brock Purdy taking the kind of leap he has made in his second season, and, this relates to the last question, but what has allowed him to bounce back so well from a couple of subpar performances during that losing streak?

Pallares: Purdy, despite coming back from season-ending elbow surgery, has made a huge jump from his rookie to sophomore season, and it has a lot to do with who he is as a player. He has continued to be a student of the game and his position, and in addition to working on all the physical therapy necessary to recover from the elbow surgery also worked in the offseason with quarterback coach Will Hewlett and orthopedic specialist Tom Gormely. Also given the fact that Purdy minimized his time away from the team with his speedy recovery, he was able to build chemistry and get his reps with the rest of the 49ers offensive unit heading into the season.

As for his performances out of the Bye, it's been just about minimizing mistakes late in the game. Head coach Kyle Shanahan was very supportive of Purdy during the 49ers three-game losing streak and was satisfied with how he was handling opposing defenses. Turnovers were one of the areas of improvement highlighted, and Purdy has balanced letting it rip and being precise very well the last two games. Also, getting a week off from throwing, Purdy noted, allowed him to come back refreshed for the Week 10 against the Jaguars.

Talanoa Hufanga has obviously been a big part of the 49ers' defensive success over the past two seasons, how does the loss of the All-Pro safety to a torn ACL affect what San Francisco does on that side of the ball?

Pallares: The loss of the All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga was a significant one for the 49ers, and that's a sentiment that's been echoed from the coaching staff to the locker room. Hufanga started ten games and amassed 51 total tackles (one tackle for loss), two quarterback hits, three interceptions and three passes defended in 2023, and was part of a one-two punch with safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. He's a big part of the takeaway ability of the 49ers defense, and like the rest of the unit, is a physical player. His presence on the field will be missed, but San Francisco feels good about what they have in rookie safety Ji'Ayir Brown. We saw a small sample size of what he can do in that role against the Buccaneers which included four total tackles, an interception and three passes defended. He will have big shoes to fill, but defensive coordinator Steve Wilks has spoken at length about his readiness and eagerness to keep getting better since he arrived in The Bay. His upside is good, and the team is looking to him now.

Aside from the obvious big names, what player or players could you see being an X-factor in this game?

Pallares: Chase Young is the newest addition to the 49ers D-line, and I expect to see his role grow as he settles into the defense. San Francisco got good production from Young in his first outing against the Jags, and he got his first solo sack against Tampa Bay.

What matchup/matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Thursday?

Pallares: I'm looking forward to seeing Geno Smith and Seattle's offensive line contend with San Francisco's pass rush. The 49ers are coming off two disruptive outings against Jacksonville (five sacks) and Tampa Bay (four sacks) and don't plan on taking their foot of the gas anytime soon. Smith has been sacked 21 times this season, which lands him in the middle of most sacked QBs, but this is one of the better pass rushes in the league headed to Seattle.

The Seahawks and 49ers face off on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the 49ers.

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