It’s no secret that Century Link Field has been like kryptonite to the 49ers over the past two years. The main reason for this is the noise level at the stadium which seems to give Colin Kaepernick and company a lot of trouble on offense. To put into perspective how bad its been, consider that San Francisco has only lost seven regular season road games under Jim Harbaugh. In the two losses at Seattle, the Niners have been outscored by a combined 56 points. In the other five road defeats, they were outscored by a total of 29 points. That’s an average loss of 28 points to the Seahawks while just under six against everyone else.
The individual numbers are not pretty either. In both losses, the 49ers have scored a total of one touchdown and that was an 18-yard pass to Delanie Walker down 42-6 late in the fourth quarter in 2012. Colin Kaepernick has only completed 50 percent of his passes and has one touchdown throw to four interceptions. Overall, the 49ers have turned it over seven times in the two losses. In a lot of cases, Kaepernick was often running for his life as the San Francisco offensive line looked like a shell of itself.
They have also gotten virtually no production from their receiving options as Vernon Davis has four receptions for 47 yards over the two games and Anquan Boldin had only one catch for six yards in his one appearance as a 49er earlier this year. Michael Crabtree, who did not play at Seattle in 2013, had respectable numbers last season with four grabs for 65 yards.
Perhaps one remedy for the Niner’s offensive woes could be to focus on (and commit to) the running game. Over the last two games at Seattle, Frank Gore has 15 total carries for 44 yards. That’s an average of 7.5 carries and 22 yards a game. In San Francisco, Gore has been much more of a focal point in the team’s game plan. He has 33 carries and 241 yards in the 49ers two home victories over the Seahawks in 2012-13. But can that approach work in Seattle?
If you go back to the last time the 49ers won on Seattle’s home turf, you’d have to look at Week 16 of 2011. San Francisco had trouble finding the endzone in that game too (only scored one touchdown) but were able to move the ball enough to get four field goals to win 19-17. In that game, they did two things on offense that made a difference. The first was the before mentioned commitment to the running game. Gore and Kendall Hunter combined to get 35 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. On the day, the team ran the ball 40 times for 178 yards. The second thing they did was take care of the football. Alex Smith had a pedestrian game numbers wise (14-of-26 for 179) but did not throw an interception and that helped set the tone for a turnover free day.
Will the 49ers take the 2011 approach again? Only time will tell, but San Francisco is far too talented and the game is far too important for them to lay another egg.
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