You’d think we see a more focused squad on Sunday as the 49ers have their opening game at home at Levi’s Stadium against their Seahawks. Wednesday, head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday night’s game between Seattle and Denver was “fun to watch” and how well-trained the Seahawks are with a range of talent, so it wasn’t surprising to see them go out and play the way they did.
Let’s not get it wrong; That was the Super Bowl in Seattle. And while they’ve held the Number Niners for the past decade, Pete Carroll’s group was fortunate to come out of the first week with a victory.
Earlier in the week, forecasts in Santa Clara called for a 40 percent chance of rain. As of Thursday morning, that number had doubled to 80 percent, with the temperature rising to 58 degrees. Rain reached 5 inches in Chicago. Sunday view only calls up to 0.35 inch.
I don’t expect puddles on the field, as we saw at Soldier Field, but there’s no doubt that conditions get in the way of how the 49ers are built. Shanahan built his attack like a track team. So, of course, one of the most important offenses advantages, speed, is invalidated in the first week and can come back again in the second week.
Despite the weather and the history of this rivalry, Vegas envisions this game as property where the 49ers are favored by 8.5 points over DraftKings Sportsbook. How will the Niners return again in Week 2? Let’s make three bold predictions to solve this question.
Aiyuk goes over 100 yards
Denver did everything they wanted with the Monday night attack. They had a 50 percent success rate, and 30 percent of their plays led to a first landing. Moving the ball wasn’t an issue, with Russell Wilson’s 0.43 EPA/play being the third highest among all QBs in week one.
Denver had gains of 67, 30, 27 and a few others in their teens. The big plays will be there to take it in. Brandon Aiyuk, the 49ers wide receiver, grabbed both goals for 40 yards. That target should be quadrupled on Sunday, especially if Deebo Samuel is to be used more in the background.
On Wednesday, Tre Lance had this to say about Ayuk: “It’s a huge weapon for us, and he’s done a great job, and it’s just going to start to look more and more like, I promise.” I’m taking the bait and I think the team will put the ball in Aiok’s hand.
We saw the high cross that Ayuk picked up for 31 yards. It’s also aligned in the slot 16% of the time. With Jamal Adams out, Seahawks are more experienced in high school. I love AIOK’s games across the board this week and I think he crossed 100 yards for the fourth time in his career.
Tre Lance leads the team in rush for the second game in a row
The Broncos did a number of head-scratching things Monday night. One of those was giving Jafonte Williams only seven campaigns, despite averaging over six yards a pop.
The Seattle defense had a brisk 21% success rate in early touchdowns. I think Shanahan is leaning Lance’s legs in the 1st and 2nd down this week to get ahead of the chains. Seahawks will turn into Deebo, which is exactly what San Francisco wants. It is impossible to turn off the option with built-in wrinkles:
You have to guess correctly, basically.
Lance ran for 54 yards compared to Deebo’s 52 yards. It’s going to be close, but I’d love for Lance to lead the team in the rush this week because he offers the biggest head-to-head advantage in the 49ers’ running game.
4 different players have a bag
The 49ers pressed Justin Fields 12 times, including Kisan and the quarterback hit 23 rebounds. They’ve been in the back court every other game, and that shouldn’t change against a team that starts with a pair of entry-level offensive tackles with a bust in the middle.
Charles Cross in the first round was tasked with allowing two bags, but one of them was on Gino Smith. The Geno dates back to its days in West Virginia, and it doesn’t move out of place once it hits the top of its place. This bodes well for the Niners’ defensive line.
Sunday would be disappointing if the defense only had two bags. Another part of the weather that wasn’t discussed last week was that he didn’t allow DeMeco Ryans to access any of his antics in apparent traffic situations.
Geno was money under pressure and when he started last week he went 8 for 9 against Blitz and 6 for 8 when he was under pressure. We must not say that these numbers are unsustainable, and on the way against the defense of the elite, one can expect a decrease in production.
If I were the Seahawks, I’d involve three bands with Nick Bosa and not let him beat me up. Obviously, it’s easier said than done when you have a threat at every position along the line of defense. This brings us to my prediction: Four different players have a sack on Sunday. Bossa, Shimson Ibokam, Eric Armstead, and Charles Ominiho.
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