Our staff writers break down the San Francisco 49ers Week 12 matchup, a home game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Let's dive into the keys to the game in this "Four Downs" preview of Sunday's divisional matchup, presented by SunPower.1st Down: Who is a 49ers rookie to watch?@JoeFann: C.J. Beathard
What kind of encore does the rookie quarterback have up his sleeve? Beathard was sensational against the New York Giants with 288 passing yards and three total scores. Now he'll get his first chance to beat the Seahawks, something no 49ers quarterback has done since 2013. Topping San Francisco's top division rival would add to the intrigue of if and when Jimmy Garoppolo sees the field in 2017. It will be hard for Kyle Shanahan to make a switch at QB as long as Beathard's play warrants the starting role.
@KeianaMartinTV: George Kittle
Kittle will make his return on Sunday after missing Week 10 with an ankle injury. He has shown to be a major contributor in the 49ers offense. Kittle ranks third among 49ers pass catchers in both receptions (27) and yards (277) through 11 weeks, with four grabs going for 20 yards or more. Kittle also ranks second in the NFL among rookie tight ends in receptions and yards behind only Evan Engram of the New York Giants. He should be heavily featured in the 49ers passing game on Sunday.2nd Down: Who will score the 49ers first touchdown?
@JoeFann: Pierre Garçon
Hyde gashed the Seahawks for 124 yards on just 15 carries in Week 2. It was his second-straight 100-yard performance against Seattle. The 49ers are sure to ride their bell cow running back on Sunday as long as the game remains close. Hyde will have as good a chance as any to reach the end zone, especially given his involvement in the passing game. His 42 receptions rank fifth among NFL running backs this season.
San Francisco’s rookie quarterback has scored a rushing touchdown in each of the 49ers last two contests. Why not push for three? Beathard’s mobility has served him well over the last six weeks as the rookie has totaled 115 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Russell Wilson isn't the only mobile quarterback to game plan for come Sunday.3rd Down: What is the key statistic of the game?
The 49ers and Seahawks have allowed 32 and 26 sacks, respectively. That makes pass protection a pivotal storyline on Sunday. Just look at San Francisco's last two games. The 49ers allowed five sacks and 16 quarterback hits in a Week 9 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 10, Beathard was barely touched and the 49ers racked up nearly 500 yards of total offense. That means keeping Beathard upright will remain a top priority for San Francisco.
The 49ers have committed two or more turnovers in each of their last four contests, two of which have led to opposing touchdowns. San Francisco is tied for 20th in the league in giveaways (16). Ball security will be key for San Francisco against an imposing Seattle defense.4th Down: What is your bold prediction?
@JoeFann: Reuben Foster forces a turnover
Who else is excited for Foster's first game against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks? The rookie linebacker has posted double digit tackles in two straight contests but is yet to force a turnover. An interception or a sack-fumble against Wilson would be a welcome sight for the Faithful.
@KeianaMartinTV:* Carlos Hyde’s third-straight 100 yard game vs. Seattle *
Of Carlos Hyde’s four career 100-plus-yard games, three have come against the Seahawks. Seattle’s ninth-ranked rushing defense hasn’t quite figured out how to slow down San Francisco's fourth-year rusher. In Week 2, Hyde mustered 124 yards against Seattle, including two runs of 61 and 27 yards, respectively. Hopefully Hyde can build momentum off of his 98-yard performance against the Giants in Week 10 and continue his success against the Seahawks.