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Game Preview: 5 Things to Watch When the 49ers Visit the Seahawks

No matter the records. No matter the time of year. The San Francisco 49ers annual trip to CenturyLink Field is always circled on the calendar.

San Francisco will aim to snap a four-game losing streak against the Seattle Seahawks. The 49ers have not won in Seattle since December of 2011, a game San Francisco won 19-17.

Most recently, the Seahawks downed the 49ers, 20-3, on "Thursday Night Football" in Week 7.

Seattle is 1-1 since that game and lost in Week 10 to the Arizona Cardinals, 39-32. Such a high-scoring affair is a rarity at CenturyLink Field with the combination of the renowned crowd noise and vaunted defense. The Seahawks have now lost two consecutive games at home for the first time since 2011.

The 49ers will look to make it a hat trick in Week 11. They'll do so with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, who will make his second start for San Francisco and first ever against the Seahawks. The signal-caller threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 9 win against the Atlanta Falcons. 

In addition to Gabbert's encore performance, here are the top five things to watch in Sunday's NFC West rivalry game. 1. Bowman's return to CenturyLink Field

We all know what happened the last time NaVorro Bowman played in Seattle so the details can be spared.

It's been almost two full calendar years since that fateful January evening in the 2013 NFC Championship Game. Now Bowman is approaching 100 percent and is ready to make his return to the Pacific Northwest.

The 49ers linebacker ranks third in the league with 88 tackles and was at his best in the team's most recent contest against the Falcons. Bowman said he plans to revisit the spot on the field where the injury took place during pregame warmups in what will be an emotional moment for San Francisco's leader.

2. Containing Marshawn Lynch

Bowman and the rest of San Francisco's defense held Devonta Freeman in check. The NFL's leading rusher at the time mustered just 12 yards on 12 carries in Week 9. The group will look to replicate that performance on Sunday against Lynch.

Seattle's running back posted his best game of the season against the 49ers in Week 7, rushing for 122 yards on 27 carries, including a one-yard touchdown.

Lynch has been a thorn in the side of the 49ers for years now. In his last eight games against San Francisco, Lynch has at least 90 rushing yards or a touchdown. The ball-carrier has five 100-yard performances in that time span. Lynch's nine total touchdowns and 1,004 total rushing yards against the 49ers are his most against any NFL team.

Containing Lynch on first and second down to set up passing situations on third down is the best formula to keep "Beast Mode" in check.

3. Torrey Smith vs. Richard Sherman

Smith was only targeted once against the Seahawks the first time around and was held without a reception. There were a number of factors contributing to that stat, but the coverage of Sherman was definitely one of them.

In a change from year's past, Sherman is tracking an opponent's top receiver as opposed to manning the left side of the field all game. That was the case in Week 7 against the 49ers, when Sherman shadowed Smith.

The 49ers top deep-threat will look for redemption against Seattle's No. 1 cornerback on Sunday.

4. The pass-rush for both teams

There were 11 sacks between the two teams in Week 7. Seattle had six sacks while the 49ers sacked Russell Wilson five times.

This will again be something to watch in Week 11. Despite giving up 363 yards and three touchdowns to Carson Palmer, the Seahawks still hit the Arizona Cardinals quarterback 13 times and sacked him three times. Gabbert will have to be ready to make contested throws under duress. The ability to make plays even with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril bearing down on him will be crucial.

On the other side, the 49ers defense will look for a repeat outing against Wilson where Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks each recorded two sacks.

5. The inactive list

Jim Tomsula announced on Friday that Pierre Garçon (foot) will miss Sunday's game. This marks the third consecutive game that Hyde has missed with the injury. Shaun Draughn is expected to start at running back in place of Hyde.

Anquan Boldin, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, is listed as questionable.

Tramaine Brock (shin), Brooks (shoulder), Keith Reaser (ankle), Eric Reid (chest), Bowman (shoulder) and Kenneth Acker (concussion/chest) are all listed as probable.

Brock, Reaser and Acker all missed the game against the Falcons. Their return to the lineup will make the rotation at cornerback one to keep an eye on during the game. Marcus Cromartie and Dontae Johnson played well in their absence and will likely still see playing time even with a healthy room of cornerbacks. Acker and Brock served as the team's two starters for the first eight weeks of the season.

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