Two NFC West rivals hook up for their most meaningful head-to-head game in five years when the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers share the Monday night spotlight in Santa Clara, Calif., to cap the NFL's Week 10 schedule.
The matchup pits one of the NFL's four remaining unbeaten teams on the road (Seahawks, 4-0) against the league's lone unbeaten team overall (49ers, 8-0) in the type of attention-grabber that was typical earlier this decade in the Jim Harbaugh coaching era in San Francisco.
The division lead was on the line in Week 13 of the 2014 season when Pete Carroll's Seahawks won 19-3 at home against Harbaugh's 49ers.
The Seahawks went on to their second straight Super Bowl that season. The 49ers finished 8-8 and began a tailspin that had seen them lose 47 of 64 games the last four years, before this season's remarkable turnaround under Kyle Shanahan.
Beginning with a 23-17 win in the 2013 NFC Championship Game, the Seahawks had won 10 straight over the 49ers until suffering a 26-23 overtime loss in their most recent visit to Levi's Stadium last December.
The first of two meetings this season will feature a showdown between Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, an MVP candidate at the midpoint of the season, against 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, an early Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
Wilson is coming off one of the best games of his career, when he went 29 of 43 for 378 yards and five touchdowns in a 40-34 overtime win over Tampa Bay. The elusive target has been sacked just 22 times in nine games.
This week, he'll be up against a 49ers defense that ranks second in the NFL with 3.8 sacks per game, including at least three in five straight contests.
Carroll noted Thursday there's more to the San Francisco defense, currently ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed (241.0 per game), than Bosa and his fellow pass-rushers.
There's also cornerback Richard Sherman, the former Seahawks standout who has overcome an Achilles injury to make a successful comeback with the 49ers.
"He's doing great stuff," Carroll said. "There's nobody that understands the game at his position better than he does. He's savvy. He's smart. He's tough. He's a playmaker. He's doing everything just like he's capable. I don't see any drop-off in his game at all."
The 49ers seek to become the first team in NFL history to record a 50th all-time win on Monday Night Football. They might have to do so without star tight end George Kittle, who injured his knee and ankle in his team's 28-25 win at Arizona in Week 9.
Despite extra time off after that game, which took place on a Thursday night, Kittle wasn't able to practice Thursday.
"There's issues," Shanahan said. "We know Kittle's a very tough guy, and that's why he was able to come back (into the Arizona) game. But it's something that we're not going to know until the end of the week."
The 49ers seem more concerned about kicker Robbie Gould, who suffered a strained quad in practice this week. The club signed Chase McLaughlin as a possible replacement should Gould have to be a late scratch.