The San Francisco 49ers will face a different Russell Wilson this time. They will face a different Seattle Seahawks offense.
The Seahawks' passing game is more successful by the week. Wilson seems more comfortable going through his progressions and not leaving the pocket too soon. Oh, and the Seahawks have broken out a zone-read running game to devastating effect.
"The biggest difference they're doing since we last played them is they've installed the gun-read game into their offense, and they're doing it a lot," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio told reporters Thursday. "They had shown it very sparingly prior to the last game. Now they're doing it a lot. I think they've done it over 10 times (per game) in the last three games, and that really has sparked their offense a little bit.
"And the quarterback's just gotten better and better, as you'd expect a rookie quarterback to do. He's no longer a rookie. This is his 15th pro start. So, he's really a good quarterback. He's very elusive, he's fast, got good command of their offense, throws the deep stuff well and he's been a great acquisition for them."
The Seahawks' rushing totals over the last three weeks are outrageous. They are averaging 240 rushing yards per week, and two of those games were against quality defenses -- the Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals. Wilson has 175 rushing yards on just 21 carries over that span, with three touchdowns last week.
The 49ers know the Seahawks' offensive wrinkle well because their young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, runs it, too. Fangio says the college game is handing NFL teams quarterbacks with this unique skill set, and it "behooves" them to use it. It's all about numbers.
"Your typical run, the quarterback hands off, and it's now their 10 against your 11," Fangio said. "Now when he's a potential runner, it's their 11 against your 11, and they're not even blocking one of the guys at the point of attack, so it actually becomes 11 against 10 if they do it right. So, the numbers are flipped."
There are many reasons to be excited about Sunday night's game. At the top of my list: Watching Kaepernick and Wilson run their respective zone-read plays against two stout, athletic defenses.