The San Francisco 49ers hit the road this week and look for their seventh-consecutive win as they take on the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on Amazon Prime Video's "Thursday Night Football." The Week 15 game marks the second contest of the 2022 season between the divisional rivals. In Week 2, the 49ers earned the first victory of the matchup, defeating Seattle 27-7.
"They're always a tough matchup," defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans said. "We know this team is going to come out, they're going to play physical, they're going to compete. It's always a fun matchup when the Niners and Seahawks get together."
For this week's Four Downs, 49ers team reporter Lindsey Pallares and 49ers Spanish insider Jesús Zárate have joined me to break down several storylines ahead of the team's Week 15 contest against Seattle. We also answer questions directly from the Faithful exclusive for the 49ers Supporters Club. To get your questions answered, sign up for the 49ers Supporters Club here.
1st Down: What's Changed Since the 49ers-Seahawks Matchup in Week 2?
@LindseyLares: A battle tested 49ers team
There have been multiple shakeups to the 49ers roster and their position in the NFC West since the last time the team played the Seahawks—that honestly feels like a lifetime ago. I'll try and condense the rollercoaster of a season that's transpired into two starting quarterback changes, a major trade for running back Christian McCaffrey, three season-ending injuries to the defensive back position group and a quick ascent to the top of division standings following the Bye in Week 9. I'm sure I missed some things, but essentially, the team that took the field in Week 2 looks a lot different in two phases of the ball, and this group has been battle-tested and continues to prevail. The 49ers are playing meaningful December football, and if they can sweep the series with Seattle, that will have really positive implications for them down the road.
@JesusZarate87: Changes on both sides of the ball
A lot has changed since the last time the 49ers played Seattle in Week 2. Brock Purdy is now the 49ers starting quarterback and has done a good job so far. Now for the defense. Even though it doesn't have key players like Emmanuel Moseley and Javon Kinlaw, the unit has emerged as the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The Seahawks have also changed a lot. Back then, people didn't think the Seahawks would be competitive without Russell Wilson, but Geno Smith has exceeded expectations and is doing a good job as their starting quarterback. So, both teams have changed a lot since they first faced each other very early in the season.
@BriMcDonaldTV: An unlocked Seahawks offense vs. the NFL's No. 1 defense
In an initial scouting report of Seattle, defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans talked about how much the Seahawks offense has evolved since the two teams faced each other earlier in the season. With Geno Smith getting comfortable and finding his rhythm under center, he's finding offensive weapons such as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett deep downfield to create explosive plays. However, they'll be matched up against the league's No. 1 defense. Over the past few weeks, the 49ers have captured the league's attention, and the unit ranks first in the NFL in big plays, also earning the top grade among many other defensive categories.
2nd Down: Biggest Storyline Heading into #SFvsSEA?
@LindseyLares: Question marks at quarterback
All eyes are on Purdy as the team prepares for "Thursday Night Football." The rookie quarterback is day-to-day with oblique and rib injuries and if he is cleared to play, will be making his first start on the road. Purdy was nothing short of impressive on Sunday, connecting on 16-of-21 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and San Francisco needs more of that on Thursday. The question mark surrounding his availability is arguably the biggest storyline heading into Thursday. If Purdy can't start, the team will look to Josh Johnson to make the tenth start of his NFL career. Johnson arrived a little over a week ago for his fourth stint with the 49ers.
@JesusZarate87: NFC West standings
When San Francisco and Seattle play there are always very interesting storylines around this big rivalry. This week, I believe the biggest one is NFC West standings. San Francisco is currently first in the division at 9-4 and Seattle is second with a 7-6 record. There will only be three games left after Thursday's matchup for each team, so in that scenario, Seattle would not have a chance to catch up with the 49ers if they don't find a way to win this week.
@BriMcDonaldTV: Sweeping the Seahawks
Should the 49ers defeat Seattle on Thursday night, they'll have swept the Seahawks in the season series for the first time since 2011 and remain undefeated against divisional opponents this season.
3rd Down: Which 49ers Player Deserves a Trip to the 2023 Pro Bowl Games?
I am happy to hear Greenlaw getting some Pro Bowl attention after a couple of really big outings against the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he scored a fumble recovery touchdown and notched an interception, respectively. He's been such a crucial part of the 49ers linebacker corps and continues to produce. This season, he's recorded two, team-leading 15-tackle games, most recently against Tampa Bay. In addition to the numbers, Greenlaw has earned praise from head coach Kyle Shanahan and fellow teammates week in and week out. This is a player that this organization wants to see get his first Pro Bowl nod, and he's doing everything he needs to on the field to prove he belongs there.
In a roster full of stars like the 49ers have, a big group of players deserve to be in the 2023 Pro Bowl, but if I had to choose one, I think Hufanga definitely needs to be a Pro Bowler this year. It would be a first trip for the second year player out of USC if in fact he's voted into the Pro Bowl. This year has been a breakout year for him. He leads the 49ers in interceptions with four and is third on the team in total tackles (70) after starting in all 13 games so far. Hufanga also has seven passes defended, five tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a sack this season. He has been a key member of the 49ers defense all year, so his hard work needs to be rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl.
McCloud III has had a huge impact on the 49ers special teams as a return specialist, and his contributions to San Francisco should definitely earn him his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Last season, the 49ers had struggled on special teams, and now, with major help from McCloud III, San Francisco's special teams squad is one of the better units in the entire NFL thus far.
4th Down: What is Your Bold Prediction for the Week 15 Matchup Against the Seahawks?
@LindseyLares: The 49ers will sweep the Seahawks for the first time since 2011.
@JesusZarate87: Seattle ranks sixth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.4 points per game. However, my bold prediction is that they will not score more than 14 points with the way San Francisco's defense has been stopping teams.
@BriMcDonaldTV: The 49ers offense will have a high scoring game, recording at least 24 points against the Seahawks.
Pro Bowl voting for the 2022-23 season is open. Be sure to cast your votes daily for your favorite 49ers players here.