As impressive as the fact the Seahawks have built one of the league’s dominant defenses has been their ability to frustrate opponents who tried to hit them different ways.
They pass-rushed the Packers to the point of distraction. They chased down Cam Newton from behind. They covered the Patriots downfield.
But this week, they have a familiar challenge, trying to slow down Frank Gore and the league’s leading running game.
Gore has more yards against the Seahawks than any other opponent, and the 49ers have the league’s best running game.
Of course, Gore’s 1,079 yards against the Seahawks have been a cumulative achievement, as they held him to 71 yards per game lsat year. But that doesn’t mean they’re not taking Thursday’s test seriously.
“You got to hit him hard and hit him early,” Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said, via Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. “Let him know that it’s not going to be your day to get a bunch of running yards. We’re going to come out and set the tone, and make sure he doesn’t get rolling.”
That’s been easier said than done, and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley stressed the importance of being disciplined.
“He hits the hole right where he needs to hit it every time, and he’s going 100 miles per hour every time,” Bradley said. “And if you’re not in your gap, . . . he has the ability to break a big one at any time.
“They do so many things offensively, and you’re trying to jockey some guys around so you’re in the right leverage and the right position, but you always have that in the back of your mind. If you try to do that too much, are you giving him enough of a space to where he can break a big one?”
The Seahawks are feeling good after last week’s win over the Patriots, but if they can keep Gore and the league’s best running game from doing what they do best, that may be the biggest statement to date.