Seahawks aim to protect Russell Wilson from DeForest Buckner

The Seattle Seahawks go into Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers knowing they need a win (full playoff scenarios here) to keep hopes of a first-round bye alive.

Pete Carroll's squad won the first matchup 37-18 back in Week 3.

To get a handle on the Seahawks' Week 17 opponent, NFL Nation 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner has six players to watch.


QB Colin Kaepernick -- It's been an up-and-down season for Kaepernick, but he's coming off a pair of impressive fourth-quarter drives and a game-winning 2-point conversion last week that he hopes will lead to better things for the offense moving forward. Kaepernick's season has mostly been defined by his strong first halves and his abysmal second halves. Last week, he completed 75 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter, a vast improvement over the 48.4 percent he'd posted in his previous starts combined.

OT Trent Brown -- Brown has been one of the few dependable players on the Niners this season, starting every game at right tackle before moving to the left side last week against the Rams. Brown held his own on the left but will get a big test either way this week against the Seahawks. Whether he plays the left or right side will depend on the health of left tackle Joe Staley's hamstring, but more reps on the left wouldn't be a bad thing, for the Niners to get a glimpse into Brown's potential future.

RB Shaun Draughn -- With starter Carlos Hyde out because of a sprained left MCL, Draughn is next man up, though DuJuan Harris will probably get some opportunities as well. Draughn had to reclaim the backup job as the season went on but has had some solid outings recently and is still reliable in the pass game.


DE DeForest Buckner -- The No. 7 overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft has continued to offer glimpses of the player many thought could be the best defender in the draft. He hit his goals of six sacks and 70 tackles for the season last week against the Rams and still has another game to play. He had eight tackles in the first meeting against the Seahawks but would be the first to say he's improved a lot since that first matchup.

CB Rashard Robinson -- Robinson sealed the win against the Rams by coming up with his first career interception, but like Buckner, he's been a bright spot among the team's young players when he's had opportunities this season. Robinson has 24 tackles, an interception and six pass breakups for the season while alternating between the team's second and third spot on the depth chart. With Jimmie Ward lost for the season, Robinson will get his first start against the Seahawks.

OLB Ahmad Brooks -- The steady veteran has been a mainstay for the Niners for a long time and still is. He's tied with Buckner for the team lead in sacks and has 48 tackles and three pass breakups on the year. Brooks is one of the few Niners who played a prominent role in the team's success a few years ago and has made it a point to try to give his younger teammates an idea of what is required to win.