There’s a large X factor in Sunday night’s 49ers-Seahawks battle for the NFC West championship.
He’s about 215 pounds, more or less (probably more) and is an unknown quantity in the 2019 season – and goes by the name of Marshawn Lynch.
The previously retired (twice) running back has signed with Seattle, which was desperately in need of help after a series of injuries. It’s a homecoming for Lynch, who played more than five seasons with the Seahawks, helping them get to two Super Bowls.
He’s been without a job this season following two seasons with the Raiders, but the 33-year-old will likely play Sunday when the 12-3 49ers take on the host 11-4 Seahawks at CenturyLink Field.
If the 49ers win, they clinch the division title and No. 1 seed in the NFC. If the Seahawks win, they take both and the 49ers go in as a No. 5 seed.
Lynch, who rarely talks to the media, addressed reporters this week and seems excited to get the chance to get off the couch and carry a football against actual tacklers for the first time since Oct. 14, 2018, when he ran 13 times for 45 yards in Oakland’s 27-3 loss to the Seahawks in the East Bay.
“Happy holidays,” Lynch told the media. “Merry New Year. Y’all have a great day. It’s a great feeling to be back. Thank you.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said the team had been in contact with Lynch for a couple of weeks and believe he’s fit enough to get some key yards against the 49ers Sunday night when needed.
“He brings a lot to the table,” Carroll said. “He’s as physical of a player as I’ve ever been around, as great of a competitor as I’ve ever been around. So when you get to add somebody like that to your team, it only helps and enhances the kind of mentality that we already cherish.”
Niners defensive lineman Arik Armstead says “everybody knows” how good Lynch is and he and his teammates are “excited” about the chance to go against him again.
Kickoff for Sunday’s game is set for 5:20 p.m.