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Defense Aims to Deny Marshawn Lynch

Posted Sep 12, 2013

Patrick Willis and a ready-to-go Justin Smith would serve themselves well to stop Seattle's running game in Week 2.

To stop the Seattle Seahawks offense, Marshawn Lynch must first be contained.

The 49ers have won two of their last three matchups against their NFC West rival despite the fact that Lynch has rushed for 100-plus yards in each.

Keeping the running back in double-digits is atop San Francisco’s goal sheet for Sunday’s nationally-televised reunion.

“We don’t want to give up anything,” inside linebacker Patrick Willis said. “We don’t want to give up 100 yards rushing. We don’t want to give up 20 yards rushing. Our biggest thing is to make a team one-dimensional and that starts with stopping the run.”

That’s where Justin Smith comes in. Smith, you might recall, was injured and on the sideline during the teams’ last duel in Dec. 2012. His absence along the defensive line was felt.

“It was a big factor,” Willis said. “To me, he is one of the best defensive players in this game week in, week out. Anytime he’s not out there, we miss him. There’s no question about that. We got him back now, so we know he’s going to be a difference-maker for us.”

All Smith would say Thursday: “That was last year.”

As if to say: This is a new year.

The veteran defensive tackle, a Pro Bowler four years running, proclaimed himself healthy on Thursday. Still, the challenge of limiting Lynch on Sunday is a tall one.

Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said as much.

“The only guy that I would kind of compare him to – but it’s not a great (comparison) – would be Emmitt Smith because Emmitt would run with power and elusiveness and slashing-type running without great speed,” the 49ers coach said. “I know our guys have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He runs the ball extremely hard and he has that misdirection and cutting and slashing ability that’s unusual for a guy his size.”

Lynch can be quieted. The Carolina Panthers proved that in Week 1, holding the Seahawks running back to 43 yards on 17 carries.

Considering the differences in their scheme – Carolina runs a 4-3 to San Francisco’s 3-4 – there isn’t exactly a blueprint for success against Seattle’s ground attack. But it’s nice to know it can be done.

“I would Seattle would say they probably didn’t have their best game down in Carolina,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of being ready and we know they’ll be ready.”


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