This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Seahawks-49ers matchups to watch Thursday, 5:30 p.m., at Levi’s Stadium.
Seahawks DT Kevin Williams vs. 49ers C Marcus Martin
Tale of the tape
Williams (94): 6 foot 5, 311 pounds, 12th season, Oklahoma State
Martin (66): 6 foot 3, 321 pounds, rookie, USC
Seattle has made it difficult in recent seasons for Frank Gore to get yards on the ground due to an outstanding pair of defensive tackles: Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane. But Bryant signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as a free agent and Mebane is now out for the season with a torn hamstring. The Seahawks have the luxury of turning to Williams, a six-time Pro Bowl player during his 11 seasons with Minnesota.
“Mebane, I think, is kind of a special kind of guy,” 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “I think they just bring a little bit of a different skill set. Mebane has played in that system and he’s physically a unique guy with a center of gravity and whatnot. They’re both very good players, very accomplished players. I don’t think you’re going to see a whole lot changing from them.”
Martin will make his fifth start since taking over for Daniel Kilgore, who sustained a fractured leg in the 49ers’ Oct. 19 game against the Denver Broncos. Martin has generally played well and done a good job of picking up the line calls, but he is coming off a rough game against Washington.
Martin has been better as a run-blocker, and he will have to help the 49ers generate some push up the middle against Williams to allow Gore to gain significant yards on first down.
The 49ers want to stay out of third-and-long situations. That’s when Seattle is able to put strong pass-rushers at every spot along the defensive line, and it’s in pass protection where Martin has been more apt to experience breakdowns.