By Sam McPherson
As has been the usual circumstance for the past few seasons, the Seattle Seahawks come to the Bay Area to play the San Francisco 49ers with a pretty good defense. But the Week 17 matchup on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium could get out of hand as three San Francisco offensive linemen are injured, and at least two of them won’t be playing against a Seattle front seven that is one of the best in the entire NFL.
In addition, the 49ers have two cornerbacks listed as questionable for the matchup against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has shredded the San Francisco defense for a 96.1 QB rating over nine games since 2012. Seattle has won seven of those matchups, including the last six in a row. With the Seahawks playing for a possible first-round bye in the playoffs on Sunday, all these injuries are going to hurt the 49ers’ chances at a third win in 2016.
Offensive Line Woes
Center Marcus Martin (ankle) and guard Andrew Tiller (ankle) have been ruled out, while tackle Joe Staley (hamstring) is listed as questionable for the Week 17 matchup against the NFC West Division champions. These three linemen have a combined 21 starts this season on the offensive line, and obviously that presents some significant damage to a unit that already has struggled this season.
Staley has missed the last three games after starting the previous 92 regular-season games. The good news is he was limited in workouts all week but practicing a little at the very least. However, the 49ers probably don’t want to risk playing him in a relatively meaningless season finale, so it would be surprising to see Staley take the field when there’s really no need for him to do so. The team wants him ready for 2017 more than it wants him on the field Sunday against Seattle.
Secondary In Trouble
Cornerbacks Dontae Johnson (groin) and Rashard Robinson (hamstring) are both questionable for the Seahawks game. Johnson practiced all week, albeit in a limited fashion, while Robinson didn’t take the field at all on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Robinson has played well in his rookie season this year, and like Staley, it’s hard to imagine the San Francisco front office risking a more-serious injury to a valued defensive player.
Johnson started three games in 2014 and three more in 2015 before being used mostly in nickel and dime packages this season. He’s not as valuable to the 49ers long term, but his presence in the secondary still means more depth for San Francisco against the Seattle passing game. Considering how the 49ers have struggled against the run this year, the last thing S.F. needs is to see Wilson throwing darts through an injured secondary.
Seahawks Mostly Healthy And Wanting To Stay That Way
Seattle clinched the division title a few weeks ago, and the team has been devastated by two big injuries in the last month: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett and safety Earl Wilson both have broken legs, and they are out for the year. The last thing the Seahawks want in this 49ers matchup is to lose any more starters to season-ending injuries. That being said, only two players had any injury issues this week: Safety Kam Chancellor (ankle) and running back Thomas Rawls (shoulder) are both probable for Sunday’s game.
Dontae Johnson, cornerback (groin)
Rashard Robinson, cornerback (hamstring)
Joe Staley, tackle (hamstring)
Marcus Martin, center (ankle)
Andrew Tiller, guard (ankle)