The last time the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks met was a month ago when head coach Kyle Shanahan and his team rattled off a 21-13 victory to clinch the division on "Thursday Night Football." Since then, the 49ers have logged another three wins to close out the 2022 regular season with the league's longest active win streak and secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Seattle was less fortunate in the final stretch of the regular season, dropping two of their last four contests of 2022 before sneaking into the conference's final playoff spot. However, if you look beyond the final scores, you'll see that the Seahawks defense has been building over the course of the last few weeks. The unit is holding opponents to just under 11 points a game the last four contests and limiting those same opponents to just 33 percent on third down conversions.
"I think they are sound, definitely more disciplined as the season has gone on," quarterback Brock Purdy said. "They lost a couple of their guys, but overall, I think they play well together. They are guys that are still playmakers. They have a veteran in (Quandre) Diggs at safety. Overall, I think they're a team that you respect, a defense you respect. They're going to make you drive and the whole bend but don't break mentality."
That steadily improving defense is also what head coach Kyle Shanahan has zeroed in during his game prep.
"I think they're the seventh ranked defense over the last four games, so they've been keeping people out of the end zone, and I think they're sixth on third down, so they've been getting off the field too," Shanahan said. "Their offense has been running the ball better here in this last month. They're ranked sixth in running the ball over this four-game stretch, so they're playing pretty good right now. As good as they have been all year and turning on the tape, they're a better team than they were four weeks ago and it's not a surprise to me that they're in this position."
Seattle's stingy defense of late will have to contend with a 49ers offense that kicked things into high gear with Purdy under center. In five of the rookie's six appearances, San Francisco has scored 30-or-more points. Purdy has also registered a 100+ passer rating in four of his six games and thrown two-or-more touchdown passes in each of his five starts. One more thing that's working in the rookie's favor is that he'll face Seattle in a better place health wise. In Week 15, he was dealing with oblique and rib injuries.
"I feel really good going into this game, especially since we had a quick turnaround last time," Purdy said. "We played on Sunday, and we had to be ready to roll for Thursday, and obviously, I had the whole rib thing going on. I feel a lot better. I'm excited about that."