Dragonslayer: A Seahawks Vs 49ers Wildcard Preview

Enter The Dragon (Nhat Meyer/ Bay Area News Group)

In many mythological tales, heroes are tasked to undertake an insurmountable feat to which the likely outcome of success feels as likely as a tiki torch staying lit during a cyclone storm. These stories have gotten recycled over the years into various fiction and in film.

In The Lord Of The Rings, a tiny two foot dude had to carry with him a magical ring to which the most sinister and powerful force in the land was searching for it, and he had to take it to a volcano called Mount Doom, and toss it into the flames with thousands of seven foot orcs (who would gladly eat him for a snack) hanging around the place. Good luck with that.

In Star Wars, a naive farm boy had to fly a tiny x-wing fighter down this narrow exterior corridor of the Death Star with skilled tie fighter pilots behind him (including his evil dad who happens to be the greatest pilot in the galaxy) looking to blow him into pieces, and he had one shot with a photon torpedo to get it inside an extremely narrow shaft that, if launched perfectly, said torpedo would travel down the shaft and hit the main reactor of the planet killing battle station, and blow it up. His chances of success were like my chances of not being socially awkward at an Oscar party.

In the 1960’s WWII war film The Dirty Dozen, a small group of US military convicts had to conduct a secret mission to assassinate top level Nazi officers in a mansion surrounded by enemy soldiers everywhere, and a few of these guys had the psychological profiles of the Dumb and Dumber dudes if they were homicidal maniacs. Basically, this was a suicide mission, and if any one of these convicts actually managed to be lucky enough to make it out alive, their prison sentences would be lifted. Frankly, I would stayed in my cell and took my chances with Brutus.

So, as I circle to this game this Saturday between the feel good Seattle Seahawks and the dominant looking San Fransisco 49ers, I cannot help drawing parallels. On it’s face, the chances of the Seahawks going to Santa Clara and pulling off an upset feels pretty remote.

The strength of the 49ers is their defense, for certain, but their offense is no slouch, either. They can limit any good offensive team from scoring, and they can put up a lot of points. Call me crazy, but I think that’s a pretty good thing to be in this league. I mean, this is what I want Seattle to be. They were this once, but that feels years ago, now.

In his Tuesday press conference, when Pete Carroll was asked about what makes the 49er defense so special, there was a very sobering tone in his delivery. He described them as being able to line up, and not fool anyone, that they run a simple scheme, but they are so talented that they can play so fast and connected that it becomes a challenge for any offense to do anything against them.

When I was listening to Coach Carroll describing that 49er defense, my first thought was that’s how his Legion Of Boom defense was once described. It was a simplistic 4-3 scheme but because the players were so good and they knew it so well, they could dare a Peyton Manning in his prime, and then stop him.

The San Fransisco 49er defense is Darth Vader. It’s powerful, and menacing, and it knows it can take any opponent down. It’s hard to run on, and it’s hard to pass on, and Seattle’s greatest weakness right now is probably the interior of its offensive line. No doubt that the 49ers are looking at Seattle’s struggles at guard and center, and they are licking their chops in this one.. again.

If Seattle cannot get a run game going to help out Geno Smith, that defensive line will be all about destroying Geno’s cinderella story. It’s that simple, and this isn’t bringing up what Seattle must do defensively to slow down an offensive that has all kinds of top end weapons and a good offensive line, and a rookie seventh round pick quarterback who’s been channelling Joe Montana for the last six weeks.

So, I am really painting a pretty big gloom and doom scenario for the Seahawks this Saturday, aren’t I? Well, of course I am!

The Seahawks are going into this game spotty on their offensive line, thinner at receiver and tight end than they were the last time these two teams met (which it wasn’t pretty for Seattle), and they are thinner at linebacker now, as well. They are also apparently going to have to play this game in some crazy cyclone type of weather scenario, and God only knows what can happen with the ball in that situation.

Maybe, just maybe in some weird way, this psychotic weather forecast benefits Seattle, but that’s like thinking that because Halle Berry forgot to put in her contact lenses, she will think I’m Brad Pitt when I’m standing next to her at that Oscar party. These are the hopeful thoughts of a desperate soul down to their last saltine cracker before that have to start eating rat feces for survival.

Practically the only thing that I can think of where Seattle might have some advantage is that Ken Walker has been hot running the rock lately, and Seattle didn’t have him in the game during the last matchup back in early December. Walker (aka K9) is a legitimate big play artist with the ball in his hands, and I believe he’s on a trajectory of superstardom in this league. On a wet and windy game where linebackers and DBs might have hard time finding their footing, he could have enough explosive plays to open things up more for Geno Smith to find his guys downfield as the game wears on, if they can manage to stay within a one score game.

For that to happen, the defense has got to be ON IT. It is worth noting that for the last four games, their defense has been trending in positively. Cody Barton has played well at middle linebacker in place of Jordyn Brooks, and Tanner Muse has been a pleasant surprise next to him. The pass rushers have also come alive more lately, most notably defensive end Darrell Taylor. The corners and safeties haven’t been bad, either.

The key for the Seahawk defense is to stop the run, though, and by nature of design, the 3-4 base defense isn’t as ideal of a run stopping scheme as a 4-3 defense is, and Seattle is does a lot of 3-4. This game against a 49er offense that runs it at you in a lot of different ways really has me missing Pete Carroll’s old 4-3 scheme. It was a good match against Kyle Shanahan’s offense. My hope and prayer is that everyone on this defense balls out extra special this Saturday to prove my concerns wrong. That would be awesome.

The only other last thing that gives me some hope for a Seattle upset to occur is that there are enough instances where when a divisional rival sweeps another divisional rival during the regular season, and those teams find themselves playing against each other in the playoffs, the team that was swept figures out a way to win. It has been said before that beating a team three times in a calendar season is hard to do in football.

Maybe it’s that the team that was swept has a better sense on how the plays will come in against them in the playoff match, and they will have better answers against those plays. Maybe it’s because the team that has won twice underestimates the opponent more, and the team that was swept is playing with more overall determination, and it surprises. Maybe it’s because the coaches of the team that was swept have looked at the few things that worked well, and have come up with a better plan to put those things in action. Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things with a little bit of luck, as well, but I can think of a number of occasions where the team that was beaten twice in the regular season wins the match in the post season.

So, maybe, just maybe the Seahawks travel down to Santa Clara and play a game against a superior divisional opponent, and they find a way to beat their mortal enemy. After all, David figured out how to beat Goliath with a rock and a sling, Luke figured out how to beat the Empire, and Eminem figured out how to beat the bully rapper with his witty words.

Maybe the Seahawks led by Geno Smith, with a help of K9, and a defense that stays gritty enough, figures out how to take down George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey, and Nick Bosa, and Fred Warner, and Deebo Samuel, and the rest of this 49er roster that is too intimidating to continue listing. As crazy as it sounds, maybe it really isn’t that bonkers.

After all, what does Seattle have to lose? They have gotten farther this season that most of the talking head experts thought they would. If they get boat raced by the 49ers, nobody will be shocked, the storyline will be that they were a team that exceeded expectations, and are another offseason away from true contention, at least.

In a way, this might free them up more. They might look at this like the band of misfit brothers from The Dirty Dozen, and say “fuck it, let’s go right at that dragon and slay his ass.” Maybe this inspires things to happen that catch the 49ers off guard ,and gets them out of their sorts. Maybe they force Brock Purdy into a bad play and turnover that leads to an easy score that puts Seattle up in the game, and makes San Fran play a little tighter.

Maybe, just maybe Seattle does just enough to stay in it, where Geno throws an absolute dart to Tyler Lockett for a score that stuns the Santa Clara crowd, and the Seahawks feed off of that momentum at the end.

Maybe, just maybe the 49ers pick a bad time to have an off game, and Seattle picks a great time to have a signature game.

Am I going to pick Seattle to win this game? Not really, but I’m not going to say that they have no shot at it, either.

I think they do, but they are going to need a lot of things to go right to kill this dragon of the NFC West. They’re going to have to get through the orcs, and past the tie fighters to pull this one off.

Thank God they have emerging talents like K9 and sensational rookie phenom cornerback Tariq Woolen. Thank goodness they have a pro bowl quarterback in Geno Smith, and a pro bowl safety in Quandre Diggs, and a pro bowl kicker in Jason Myers, as well.

If I have to slay a dragon, I want these guys on my team. Here’s to hoping they pull it off.

What a cherry on top of Seattle’s surprising season that would be. Either way, though, I’m proud of this team, and I look forward to what they do next year. But let’s get it done.

Go Hawks!


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