Five 49ers to watch in possible NFC West clincher vs. Seahawks


SEATTLE — The 49ers have one victory in their past 11 road games against the Seattle Seahawks.

That one was memorable: A division-clinching victory in the 2019 regular-season finale.

Although there will not be nearly as much drama surrounding their matchup Thursday night, the 49ers can once again leave the Pacific Northwest wearing NFC West title T-shirts.

The 49ers put their six-game win streak on the line against the Seahawks, who are fighting for a spot in the postseason.

Here are five players to watch in this big Week 15 matchup:

5, WR Jauan Jennings

With Deebo Samuel expected to miss approximately three games with knee and ankle issues, the 49ers will look for Jauan Jennings to take on a greater role in the offense.

His penchant for making plays to move the chains has earned him the nickname “Third and Jauan.”

Now, he will be greater opportunities to make plays on first and second downs, too.

Jennings is very good against man coverage, so any time there is a one-on-one matchup there stand a good chance of the ball going his way.

4, DT Arik Armstead

The 49ers have a shortage of defensive tackles with injuries sidelining Kevin Givens and Hassan Ridgeway.

That will likely mean a heavy workload for Arik Armstead, who is rounding back into game shape after missing two months with foot and ankle injuries.

Armstead is a key to the interior of the 49ers’ defensive line due to his ability to play against the run and the pass.

His top priority will be to stuff the Seahawks’ running game and try to make their offense one-dimensional. Then, he will have opportunities to apply pressure to Seattle quarterback Geno Smith.

3, RB Christian McCaffrey

Even without Samuel, the 49ers still have a multi-faceted offensive player who can run the ball inside and outside, as well as being a huge contributor in the passing game.

When Samuel missed a game earlier this season against the Los Angeles Rams, Christian McCaffrey responded with touchdowns passing, rushing and receiving.

His addition to the team has clearly given the 49ers a boost. And he might have to do a little more with the team’s most dynamic offensive player out of action.

2, LB Dre Greenlaw

Then-rookie linebacker Dre Greenlaw made the most-memorable play when he stopped Jacob Hollister at the goal line on fourth down to preserve the 49ers’ 26-21 victory on Dec. 29, 2019.

Three seasons later, Greenlaw is consistently playing at a high level for the NFL’s top defense. He and Fred Warner have combined to form, perhaps, the top tandem of inside linebackers in the NFL.

Greenlaw leads the 49ers with 103 tackles on the season, including 15 in a 35-7 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 14.

Greenlaw also came up with an interception of a Tom Brady pass, then capped his incredible day with Brady’s autograph on the ball.

Greenlaw should be busy again on Thursday with a lot of opportunities to make plays. Seahawks leading rusher Kenneth Walker III will be back in action after missing time with an ankle injury.

1, QB Brock Purdy

There was little doubt throughout the week that quarterback Brock Purdy would play after taking part in limited practices due to soreness to his obliques and ribs.

Now, the question is whether his effectiveness will be impacted.

Purdy has played very well after stepping in for Jimmy Garoppolo after he sustained a fractured foot in the 49ers’ Week 13 game against the Miami Dolphins.

RELATED: How Shanahan gave Lynch confidence Purdy would succeed

Purdy has avoided making critical mistakes, and that is his No. 1 job. He must take care of the football and the ball into the hands of the team’s many playmakers.

After two games at Levi’s Stadium, Purdy will face the challenge of playing in a raucous road environment for the first time in his NFL career.

If he does his job, the 49ers will punch their ticket to the postseason.

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