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Seahawks matchup with undefeated 49ers will likely dictate playoff picture

SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 03: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CenturyLink Field on November 3, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

SEATTLE – The 49ers are the last undefeated team standing, heading into Monday’s contest with Seattle without a loss on their resume. It’s been an unexpected turnaround, with the team’s last winning season coming in 2013. San Francisco’s trajectory has been the mirror opposite of Seattle, as the Seahawks haven’t had a losing season since back in 2011.

49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley, a 13-year veteran, thinks the matchup feels a little different this time around: “It’s good when the rivalry is there and the game means something … we haven’t held up our end of the bargain the last few years.”

From 2013 to 2017, the Seahawks won 10 straight against their NFC West opponents. So this game is not only important in the standings (with the 7-2 Seahawks a few games back of the 8-0 49ers), it’s personal. Players with ties to both teams, like 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, will also add fuel to the fire.

The veteran for San Francisco once anchored the “Legion of Boom” defenses that helped Seattle win a Super Bowl. Remaining with the Seahawks is Sherman’s former teammate Russell Wilson, who is leading the league in early voting for Most Valuable Player. Sherman and his defense shutting down Wilson’s passing attack will be one of the keys for the 49ers.

Another holdover from Sherman’s days with the Seahawks is head coach Pete Carroll. For his part, Carroll wanted to talk about the leap the 49ers have made in his weekly presser.

“It’s what every coach hopes to do. (49ers head coach) Kyle (Shanahan) saw them when they were hungry and not getting it done, now they’ve turned it around … and I’m sure they’re enjoying the heck out of it,” he said.

A win for Seattle would give the Seahawks a nearly identical record with San Francisco for division leader. But even in a loss, Seattle would remain in solid position for a wild card berth, with a record leading all other second-place NFC rivals and owning a comfortable distance from the (5-4) Rams.

Watch: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, Monday at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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