PFF Preview: Seahawks @ 49ers: Week 13
Two non-traditional Thanksgiving teams square off in one of the fiercest rivalries in recent times as the defending world champion Seattle Seahawks (7-4) clash with the San Francisco 49ers (7-4). The 49ers’ new home hasn’t been kind to them so far this year only winning three out of five at Levi’s Stadium, while the Seahawks continue to struggle on the road losing three of five. This game could help iron out the tight NFC West and Wild Card playoff pictures as they both fight to stay in contention.
A lot will be talked about with the position battle between Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree, but the real battle in these games takes place in the trenches. The NFC Championship game was a hard-hitting affair and arguably the difference in the game came from defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Both were disruptive in pass rushing, wreaking havoc mostly from the left side. Bennett notched a +3.3 pass rush grade with one sack and three hurries, while Avril finished with a +3.0 pass rush grade, recording a sack and two hurries. Their Pass Rushing Productivity marks were 16.3 and 14.7, respectively. This season, the pair have continued their stellar play as they currently are the only two defensive lineman grading positively for the Seahawks at +15.3 and +9.9, while their pass rushing grades stand at +14.9 and +12.4.
The task of slowing down Bennett and Avril will fall on left tackle Joe Staley and right tackle Jonathan Martin. With Anthony Davis still not practicing because of concussion symptoms, Martin looks to start his seventh game this year. Martin has struggled filling in for Davis, -8.4 in 478 snaps including a -4.5 in 269 pass block snaps. He has given up five sacks, a hit and 16 hurries giving him a 92.9 Pass Blocking Efficiency. Staley on the other side has been much stronger in all facets of the game. While he is no longer showing his ridiculous 2012 form, he still rates very well, +13.0 overall and +5.3 in pass blocking. Staley has a PBE of 95.6, giving up four sacks, two hits and 17 hurries but with 416 pass block snaps. In the NFC Championship game last year, Staley only allowed one hurry on 30 snaps.
Max Unger – Unger is the Seahawks’ lone offensive lineman with a PFF grade in the green. Doing it in six of the 11 games, Unger boasts +12.4 overall with a +14.0 run block grade. He has only given up six QB hurries.
Marshawn Lynch – Recipient of the PFF game ball in last year’s battle, “Beast-Mode” has a +12.8 rushing grade this season, good for second in the NFL. Lynch is also second in our Elusive Rating among running backs with at least 100 carries.
Bobby Wagner – Wagner missed the five weeks before the Week 12 matchup against the Cardinals, but he showed no rust grading at +2.9 (+2.8 run defense) recording a hit, a hurry, and three stops. Wagner ranks fifth in the NFL for the entire season and also is second in the NFL in Tackling Efficiency at 25.5.
San Francisco 49ers
Anquan Boldin – A monster game last week from the veteran. Topping 100 yards for the first time since the Divisional Round Playoffs, Boldin graded +3.7 in receiving and paced the NFL with 4.28 Yards Per Route Run.
Justin Smith – Smith is following two down years (by his standards) in 2012 and 2013 with a +21.7 grade that ranks fourth in the league for 3-4 defensive ends.
Chris Borland – Enough can’t be said about the “undersized” rookie from Wisconsin. While last week showed some weakness in his game missing three tackles, he still is a run-stopping force recording 27 run stops in just 132 snaps, good for a 20.5 Run Stop Percentage, tops in the NFL.
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