RENTON, Wash. – Marshawn Lynch knows exactly how significant it would be for the Seattle Seahawks to be the first team this season to score a rushing touchdown on San Francisco.
And in typical Lynch fashion, his answer had nothing to do with his current franchise- record streak of 10 consecutive games with at least one touchdown.
“Points on the board get us closer to a victory,” Lynch said.
The Seahawks’ midseason turnaround began because of their recommitment to being a run-first team, relying on the angry power running of Lynch to turn a 2-6 start into a 7-7 record with their playoff hopes still alive entering Saturday’s home finale against the 49ers.
So along with trying to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Seahawks have another goal of trying to stop a little bit of NFL history.
San Francisco is the first team in NFL history to not allow a touchdown rushing through the first 14 weeks of the regular season. According to STATS LLC, with a database that goes back to 1932, the fewest touchdowns rushing allowed through an entire season is two – set by the 1934 Detroit Lions, 1968 Dallas Cowboys and 1971 Minnesota Vikings.
“I don’t have too much to say. History speaks for itself,” Seattle center Max Unger said. “It’s pretty impressive.”
It’s not that San Francisco has just been good at stopping the run near the goal line. They’ve been shutting running backs down all over the field and not just this season. San Francisco has gone 36 straight games without allowing an individual 100-yard rusher, and its 71.5 yards per game allowed this season on the ground is nearly 20 yards per game better than second-place Baltimore.
Philadelphia in Week 4 is the only team this season to top 100 yards rushing against the 49ers.
“It’s a big goal to stop the run. You don’t set up on your goal board at the beginning of the year to not allow a rushing touchdown for the first 14 games of the season. You want to be good against the run, you want to stop the run,” San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Our team has been doing that. Some 30-some games since there’s been a 100-yard rusher. That’s another benchmark standard that I’ve read about. Again, it’s a credit to the guys that are up front.”
The back San Francisco is being asked to stop this week could be among the most challenging this season.
Lynch saw his string of 100-yard efforts snapped last week at Chicago, but he still found the end zone twice in the Seahawks’ 38-14 win. He’s got 11 touchdowns rushing for the season, all of them in his past 10 games.
“Marshawn is running that ball – like I told guys, he’s running like he just got out of jail or something,” 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers said. “He’s running that ball hard. It’s going to be a challenge, and just going into their place is a challenge with the way they’re playing.”
What Lynch and the Seahawks have accomplished is even more impressive considering the losses on the offensive line. Three starters – Russell Okung, John Moffitt and James Carpenter – have all gone down with season-ending injuries during Seattle’s run of success.
Lynch called Paul McQuistan the team’s MVP after McQuistan first stepped in for Moffitt at right guard, only to switch to left tackle when Okung went down.
“Just to see the way that they’re being coached to where it’s not an individual player but a position is really good,” Lynch said.