When the Seattle Seahawks look across the field at the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, there will be revulsion, disdain, and loathing in their Emerald City hearts. There will also be an odd mental disconnect because they will be looking in a mirror.
Offensively there isn't a difference between these teams wide enough through which to slide a hotel room key. The Seahawks are 11th in the conference offensively. San Francisco is 12th in offense. The 49ers are second in the conference rushing the ball. Seattle is 3rd in the NFC's ground game list. The Seahawks are four spots higher than the 49ers in the passing yardage statistic. That sounds significant, right? Russell Wilson averages 15 yards per game more than does Colin Kaepernick. Wilson's "significant" advantage is one and a half first downs.
Stylistically there is a little difference but not a whole lot. Seahawks' runner Marshawn Lynch is known for power but he's faster than you think. San Francisco's all time rushing leader Frank Gore is known for his speed. But he's more powerful than you think.
To find any significant difference we have to bypass the team offense numbers and look at the breakdown of receptions. The 49ers use their tight end, the multi-talented Vernon Davis, far more than do the Hawks use Zach Miller. Davis is a focal point of offensive coordinator Greg Roman's attack, and has 52 receptions. Impressive in a season during which he missed time due to a concussion suffered against Carolina. Miller's 33 catches reflect the Hawks preferred "spread it around" style.
So where is the advantage? Neither offense looks like "The Greatest Show on Turf." There is no need, when the defenses play as well as these units play. Let's give the slightest of edges offensively to the suddenly healthy 49ers, and look at the defense tomorrow.