NFL Sunday Night Preview: San Francisco vs. Seattle

Russell+Wilson+Arizona+Cardinals+v+Seahawks-640x366 So far everyone the Seattle Seahawks has beaten has been against opponents with losing records. That includes their best effort against the San Francisco 49ers last month. But the 49ers won’t be the same with Colin Kaepernik out for the rest of the season with surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, and that change at quarterback has the 49ers feeling good about their chances for revenge tonight.

Back up and now active quarterback, Blaine Gabbert will od his best to win a second straight start and get San Francisco back on track by sendng the Seahawks packing which would also result in their first three-game home losing streak in seven years.

Seattle sits at 4-5, and this year they look less and less likely to mount a return to the Super Bowl, a feat they accomplished the last two years in a row. Currently the Seahawks are three games behind the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals, two behind the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons for the wild-card race. They would have to be flawless to get ahead of the competition.

And another thing that would keep them from doing that is the frustration that is building, especially since their last loss of 39-32 at home to the Cardinals in Week 10.

“It’s real frustrating because we know we can play and we’re just not there the way we need to be yet. So the battle of this season is to find it,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We have plenty of good play in us, and we have to find the consistency that allows us to get the game done. When we have, we’ve gotten nice wins, and when we don’t we have to suffer like that.”

Seattle’s wins, even though coming off weaker teams also included a dominating Week 7 victory of 20-3, at San Francisco, who has a worse record, sitting at 3-6. The Seahawks were able to hold the 49ers to 142 yards of offense, which translated to their best defensive effort of the season, so far.

That defense and lack thereof, has caused a lot of problems and were instrumental in their losses. They gave up an average of 30.8 points and 393.2 yards, and four of those defeats came against competition that is likely headed to the playoffs. Those games were tests that they failed miserably.

“I think there’s something there in our consistency in these games against these really good teams,” Carroll said. “We have it, it’s available to us, but we haven’t captured yet. We’re working at that,”

So the 49ers are in a hunt for some redemption and a turnaround in their season. They will stick with Gabbert coming out of the bye week. He gave San Francisco hope when he led them to a 17-16 upset of the Falcons on Nov. 8. He was named the starter to replace an ineffective Colin Kaepernick who later on decided to have surgery. Gabbert was able to complete 15 of 25 passes for 185 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions to win for the first time since 2012 against Tennessee.

49ers’ Coach Jim Tomsula, though hasn’t ruled out a return to Kaepernick in the future, but it obviously won’t happen this season. And if Gabbert can redeem the team a little, he might even start next year.

“I liked the way (Gabbert) handled the game. I liked the way he played the game, and I want to move forward with Blaine and we’ll go from there. That’s all I have for you going into this game,” Tomsula told media gameday.

Gabbert is 6-22 as a starter, though his record does not show it, he will be in good position to help the 49ers try to beat the Seahawks at the raucous CenturyLink Field for the first time since Dec. 24, 2011. Their offense needs a spark and he could be that, since they’ve only totaled 40 points in their four straight losses there, and that includes the 2014 NFC title game.

“It’s going to be loud, we know that,” Gabbert said. “In these stadiums where it is extremely loud, you really have to focus one play at a time because if you don’t hear a call, you don’t hear the play, one or two guys aren’t going to be on the same page and that’s the difference between winning and losing games.”

Gabbert was able to find common ground and stay on the same page with running back Shaun Draughn and wide receiver Quinton Patton when they played Atlanta. With that syncronicity they were able to combine for seven catches and 108 yards. Unfortunately, this time out as well, Anquan Boldin – the team leader with 31 receptions – will be out with a hamstring injury. Running back Carlos Hyde will also miss a third straight game with a foot injury.

Seattle will have to grapple with a problem only they can solve, as last week they had a season-high 14 penalties, that directly contributed to the offense going 1 for 8 on third downs. They’re converting just 31.4 percent of third downs. They have split four home games, which is a dramatic change from their 44.2 rate while going 7-1 there last year. So both teams are drastically underperforming, when only a few years separated from appearences at the big show.

If the Seahawks lose tonight it will be their first three-game home losing streak since losing five in a row in 2008 so their pride is at stake. They recently got Marshawn Lynch back and that can only help. But that depends on the QB, as the star running back only carried the ball eight times for 42 yards and a touchdown last week. That’s a huge drop after gaining 193 yards on 48 carries over the previous two games – both wins – before heading into a bye week.

He was being bothered by an abdominal injury last week and today he is listed as questionable, against San Fran for the same reason, but Carroll told media that he thinks he’ll play.

“He’s questionable with a positive bend,” Carroll said.

Lynch didn’t practice this week. He’s had at least 20 rushes in each of the last seven matchups against the Niners with Seattle winning six. He ran for a season-best 122 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries in last month’s win over the 49ers. Him being healthy will be a huge factor is the Seahawks want to dominate the 49ers again. We think he can.

Our Pick: Seahawks over 49ers, 28-10