Seahawks vs. 49ers: 4 things to watch

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson fumbles the ball as he is upended on a sack by the Atlanta Falcons in the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

By Mike Ferreri, KOMO-TV Sports Director

The Seahawks jump right back into NFC West Division play with a trip down to Santa Clara, California, to face the 49ers Sunday. The Niners won their first game of the season two weeks ago over the Giants, last week they were off enjoying their bye week.

The last time these two teams met was back on September 17 in the Seattle home opener and the Seahawks just barely pulled out a win 12-9.

On Sunday, the Seahawks will look to rebound after a rough loss to the Falcons on Monday night while the 49ers will look to win their second game in a row in a season that has been a struggle under their new head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Here are four things to look for in Sunday's game that kicks off at 1:05 p.m.

1) Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is the straw that stirs the Seahawks offensive drink and he has been ridiculously good this season. Even with some early turnovers last Monday night against the Falcons that proved to be costly, Wilson battled back and gave the Seahawks a chance to win.

Wilson comes into this weekend ranked 5th statistcally among quarterbacks in passing with 2,801 yards and he's ranked 34th in the league in rushing with 376 yards. Wilson has done it all for the Seahawks offensively and he has become one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL because he simply will never quit on a play.

As this season has progressed, Wilson's level of play has lifted his teammates. The offense as a whole has been improving week to week, Wilson said this week that constant improvement is the goal.

"It’s just focusing on the moments and continuing to evolve and continuing to progress, and continue to love the journey that you’re on, so I think that’s why our offense is doing really good right now; because we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football, and guys who have been here for a while now, and guys who have done great things and understand that process and enjoy that process," Wilson said.

2) Dion Jordan.

Dwight Freeney was let go this week after only four games with the Seahawks and Dion Jordan may be one reason why Freeney is now a Detroit Lion.

Until Jordan debuted in a Thursday night game against the Cardinals, the Seahawks weren't sure what they were going to get from the player that missed mini camp, training camp and the first nine weeks of the season.

The once dominant, 3rd overall pick out of Oregon had not played in a game since the last week of the 2014 season with the Dolphins. What the Seahawks got was a player that could be dominant again. Jordan played 33 snaps with a quarterback sack and three quarterback hits against Arizona, and that was just the start.

Jordan has progressed enough that he can move forward and expect to be a steady part of a defensive line rotation that needs to get to the quarterback.

3) Byron Maxwell

The Seahawks weren't sure Byron Maxwell was going to play last week but once Shaq Griffin left with a concussion after only two plays against the Falcons, Maxwell jumped right in.

While there has been so much upheaval in the secondary with injuries to Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman, there was something comforting in seeing #41 out there for the Seahawks again.

While he didn't have a flawless game, and was just trying to get his legs back underneath him, Maxwell played well enough against the Falcons to earn the start this week while Griffin stays in the NFL concussion protocol.

"He did fine," Pete Carroll said last week when asked about Maxwell's game Monday night "Yeah, Byron played well and did a good job. Had a pass interference in there, but he did a good job. He looked like the guy that we hoped he would look like and that is without a whole lot of preparation. He really kicked right back into the technique and the style of play and he is a strong, well-suited guy and I'm fired up that he is with us and I would think that he should only get better and more comfortable with what we are doing and I have no problem with him playing."

4) Running Game

The Seahawks running game simply has not gotten off the ground this season. It's been frustrating for Seahawks coaches and players but they refuse to abandon a part of the game that can balance out their offense.

Mike Davis showed a spark for the Seahawks running the ball against the Falcons but he had to leave the game with a groin injury and there's a pretty good chance he won't play against the 49ers.

Eddie Lacy, DJ McKissic and Thomas Rawls will handle the ball carrying duties for a Seahawks team that currently is ranked 18th in the NFL in rushing.

Rawls is eager to get back to form as the hard nosed, evasive runner he was a few years ago when he took over for an injured Marshawn Lynch and that may be why Rawls is struggling.

“I think sometimes, he can try too hard on things," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said about Thomas Rawls last week. "I think I talked about that a couple of weeks ago. There’s times that you just have to be patient and kind of let the game come to you and not try so hard to make something happen. I think that Thomas is such a driven guy and he’s really intense, so he just wants to make something happen so bad, that sometimes you can press and try too hard. I think he’s done that a little bit.”

Somebody needs to break through in the running game for the Seahawks, not one Seahawks runningback has ran for 100 yards or more in a game this season. If Rawls changes his approach and lets things come to him on Sunday, he could be the first back to gain significant yardage in a single game since Chris Carson went on Injured Reserve.

Enjoy the game. I will have live reports Sunday night from Santa Clara on KOMO News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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