I gotta admit I’m feeling conflicted heading into arguably the matchup of the season.
As a 49ers fan born and raised in the Bay Area, most of me wants to see the 49ers defense shut down Russell Wilson and shut up the 12th Man.
But another part of me wants to see Beast Mode run for 120+ yards and 3 TDs in his first game in Seattle since 2015.
The stakes could not be higher for both teams—a win would clinch the division for the victor—and the outcome of the game will likely hinge on how prepared Marshawn Lynch is to beat a 49ers defensive front that has given QBs constant nightmares, but has been porous at times to opposing running backs.
In preparation for Lynch’s return, I wanted to open up old wounds and revisit exactly how beastly he has been in his career against the 49ers.
I have ranked his 3 best Beast Mode games and scored them on a Beast Mode scale, but first here’s some fun Beast Mode facts:
- Marshawn was held to 29 yards and 33 yards on the ground in his first two matchups against the 49ers as a Seahawk.
- His actual first matchup against the 49ers came when he was a Buffalo Bill and he torched them for 134 rushing yards on 16 carries.
- In 11 career regular season matchups against the 49ers, Marshawn has 1,004 rushing yards, 7 rushing TDs and 2 receiving TDs.
- He has rushed for over 100 yards in 5 of his 10 regular season matchups against the 49ers as a Seahawk.
- Lynch has never fumbled against the 49ers during his Seahawk career (he lost one in his only game against them as a Bill.)
3. Dec. 23, 2012: 42-13 Seattle win over Super Bowl-contending 49ers team
Lynch stats: 26 carries, 111 yards, 1 rushing TD, 2 catches, 19 yards, 1 receiving TD
In a Week 16 matchup with similar playoff implications, Lynch pulverized the 49ers front for a 24-yard TD run on the opening drive. Seattle didn’t look back and the 49ers gave up their most rushing yards to an opponent that season (176). Keep in mind that Lynch did this against a 49ers defense that featured 6 pro bowlers (NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Donte Whitner, Aldon Smith, Dashon Goldson and Justin Smith) and finished fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed. That 49ers team went on to lose the HarBowl to the Ravens.
Beast Mode Rating: 8.5/10
2. Sept. 15, 2013: 29-3 Seattle win
Lynch stats: 28 carries, 98 yards, 2 rushing TDs, 3 catches, 37 yards, 1 receiving TD
Lynch continued his dominance in Week 2 of the next season and started with 66 yards in the first half. Seattle’s defense was largely responsible for the lopsided win, forcing two fumbles and three interceptions against a 49ers offense that would finish with the second-least turnovers that season.
But Beast Mode was relentless, and displayed his versatility out of the backfield while racking up 3 TDs in the second half to bury the 49ers. This San Francisco defensive unit went on to have five Pro Bowlers and finish fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed (for the second straight year). Seattle finished one game above the 49ers that season and won the division, setting both teams up on a crash course in the NFC Championship game.
Beast Mode Rating: 10/10
1. Jan. 19, 2014: 23-17 Seattle win in NFC Championship game
Lynch stats: 22 carries, 109 yards, 1 rushing TD
While his stats don’t jump off the page like in previous games, Marshawn turned the tide in this critical matchup. Beast Mode’s efficient and explosive runs were no match for the 49ers defensive front and wore them down as the game went on. Although Seattle was held to 3 points in the first half, Lynch accounted for 51 of their 131 total yards.
He then (probably) downed a bag of Skittles at halftime and came out swinging in the third quarter. On Seattle’s first drive of the second half, Lynch ran for 11 yards, then five yards, then Seattle dumped a screen pass to Doug Baldwin for four yards to set up a 3rd and 1 on SF’s 40 yard line. Lynch got the ball going to the right, then cut back up the middle, bounced off his own offensive lineman and beat four San Francisco defenders in a 40-yard dash to the pylon to tie the score at 10-all.
That run got Seattle’s offense going and drew the 49ers focus to the backfield, which set up some deep passes late in the game, including a 35-yard deep ball to Jermaine Kearse that gave the Seahawks the lead for good. This win cleared the path to Seattle’s easy Super Bowl win over Peyton Manning’s Broncos.
Beast Mode Rating: 11/10