The 49ers snapped a three-game losing streak with an upset win over the Broncos last weekend. Now they meet the Seahawks for the second time in three weeks.
The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 43-16 at CenturyLink Field less than two weeks ago.
Will Sunday’s sequel be any different?
Unsurprisingly, not much has changed for either team. But here are five things to know about the 3-10 San Francisco 49ers.
1, George Kittle nearly set the NFL record for single-game receiving yards by a tight end last week.
The 49ers’ second-year tight end caught seven passes for 210 yards in the first half of San Francisco’s upset win over Denver last weekend, falling just four yards shy of Shannon Sharpe’s single-game record of 214 receiving yards by a tight end.
Kittle received just one target and failed to catch a pass in the second half.
Still, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end can hang his hat (or helmet) on the 85-yard catch and run touchdown he pulled off in the second quarter. The 25-year-old Kittle is currently enjoying a breakout sophomore season, having already totaled 69 catches, 1,103 receiving yards and four scores. In the loss at Seattle on Dec. 2, he snagged six passes for 70 yards.
He may be a match up nightmare, but don’t expect Kittle to catch the Seahawks by surprise on Sunday.
2, Nick Mullens has thrown for 746 yards in his last two games.
Not bad for an undrafted rookie quarterback out of Southern Mississippi. The 6-1, 210-pound signal caller also completed 61.7 percent of his passes in the games against Seattle and Denver, throwing four touchdown passes with two interceptions.
Mullens is the third 49er to start at quarterback this season, following franchise centerpiece Jimmy Garoppolo and likely lifetime backup C.J. Beathard. Besides Kittle, his favorite target seems to be former Washington Husky standout Dante Pettis, who has recorded four touchdowns in his last three games.
After facing the likes of Phillip Rivers, Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton this season, the Seahawks might be happy to see Mullens for a second time in three weeks. But maybe they shouldn’t be.
3, The 49ers have a legitimate pass-rush threat in DeForest Buckner.
You might not assume that San Francisco’s 6-7, 300-pound defensive lineman would be considered an elite pass-rusher.
And yet, the 24-year-old Buckner — an Oregon alum — leads the 49ers with nine sacks this season, matching the total he produced in his first two NFL campaigns. That included two sacks in San Francisco’s loss at Seattle two weeks ago.
But despite Buckner’s significant contributions, the 49ers’ defense has managed just 31 sacks this season, which ranks 20th in the NFL (and is tied with the Seahawks, by the way).
The lesson: if you can slow Buckner down, don’t expect much other resistance from San Francisco.
4, Matt Breida’s status for Sunday’s game is unknown.
San Francisco starting running back Matt Breida made a minimal impact in his first game against the Seahawks two weeks ago, rushing just five times for six yards while adding three catches for 51 yards.
He may have even less of an impact on Sunday.
That’s because the 5-11, 190-pound Breida — who touts 5.6 yards per carry this season — missed the 49ers’ win over the Broncos last weekend with an ankle injury. In his place, Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries.
Against a Seahawks defense that allows 5.1 yards per carry, which is tied for last place in the NFL, the potential is there for a big game from Breida. But that’s only possible if he plays.
5, San Francisco has a turnover differential of -21, which ranks dead last in the NFL.
You read that right. The 49ers have lost the turnover battle in each of their last four games. They haven’t forced a turnover since falling to the Rams on Oct. 28. The 49ers rank last in the NFL in fumbles (11) and interceptions gained (2) and 28th in interceptions lost (16). In the loss to the Seahawks on Dec. 2, they committed three turnovers (two lost fumbles, one interception) and failed to create a takeaway of their own.
This, arguably more than anything, explains why the 49ers are 3-10.