SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Even though both the 49ers and the Seahawks enter the short week with 2-4 records, San Francisco's head coach Jim Tomsula knows the gravity of games against his team's fiercest rival.
"To us, that's one thing around here that we all know being this area, that this is a big game," Tomsula said Monday in the aftermath of Sunday's 25-20 win over the Ravens. "We don't make any bones about that. Any time you play Seattle, it's a big deal."
Of course, going through a coaching change and losing so many players in the recent offseason likely takes away some of the rivalry's bluster. No longer is Jim Harbaugh's relationship with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll fodder for scribes and fans.
Additionally, the 49ers don't appear to poised to make another deep run into the postseason as they did from 2011 to 2013, while reaching three straight conference title games and the Super Bowl.
But to Tomsula, the Seahawks look like the same team that played in the last two Super Bowls.
"They're the same team, they are," Tomsula said. "They're the same team and they are a good team. Seattle is a good football team and their quarterback is still the quarterback, their running back is still the running back...They are doing the things that they do."
Carroll's team is coming off two straight losses to undefeated clubs, falling in overtime in Cincinnati after giving up a 24-7 lead in the fourth quarter. Sunday, they returned home to lose to the Carolina Panthers 27-23, after being ahead 20-7 in the third quarter.
The Seahawks have won five of their last six meetings against the 49ers, including the playoffs, and haven't lost to Colin Kaepernick under center since December 2013, when San Francisco edged out a 19-17 win in the penultimate game at Candlestick Park.
That day, running back Frank Gore set up the go-ahead field goal with 31 seconds remaining with a 51-yard run to Seattle's 18-yard line. Six weeks later, the teams played against in the conference title game, with Seattle winning 23-17 in the game that ended with cornerback Richard Sherman's deflected ball to linebacker Malcolm Smith, after Kaepernick was trying to find receiver Michael Crabtree in the end zone for the potential go-ahead score.
Last year, Seattle swept the season series for the first time since 2007, outscoring the 49ers a combined 36-10, including Thanksgiving night when Sherman and Russell Wilson dined on some turkey on the 49ers logo at midfield.
When asked about that night, Tomsula unintentionally coined a new word.
"I didn't remember that until you just brought that up," Tomsula said. "I don't really pay much attention to the pompenstance."
"Here I am making up vocabulary words. My Pittsburghese coming out."
-After Tomsula spoke about monitoring NaVorro Bowman reps last week, the former All-Pro linebacker played all 77 of the team's defensive snaps Sunday, four days before Thursday's tilt against Seattle.
"We're in the process of addressing his rep counts in games," Tomsula said Monday. "I realize they're high. That's something I look at on every player...We've got to get them down. We've got to get some of those reps down on him."
New linebacker Gerald Hodges was inactive again Sunday, leaving Shayne Skov and Nick Bellore as Bowman's potential replacements. One of the candidates to back Bowman up in training camp was 2013 sixth-round draft pick Nick Moody. But now Moody is on the Seahawks' 53-man roster after being elevated from the practice squad Oct. 14 after being among final roster cuts.
-Tight end Vernon Davis played in his first game Sunday since Week 3's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, when initially sustained his knee injury. Davis was targeted just once and didn't make a catch.
Davis, a team captain, played 34 snaps, second-most among tight ends behind Garrett Celek, who played 46 snaps.
Tomsula said Davis is still the team's top starting tight end and his lack of playing time was a product of returning from the knee injury.
"No controversy, no," Tomsula said.
In regards to Davis having no catches: "(The Ravens) were paying some attention to him, so the ball went other places."
For the season, Davis has eight catches for 109 yards and no touchdowns in four games.
-Running back Reggie Bush missed Sunday's win after aggravating his strained calf in last week's loss to the Giants.
While Carlos Hyde expects to play Thursday, having Bush return to the lineup would be a bonus considering the lack of experience of Jarryd Hayne and Mike Davis, who had 23 rushes for 45 yards combined.
"Right now I'm very optimistic on where Reggie is," Tomsula said. "From the information that I've gotten, yeah, I feel good about it."
Chris Biderman is the Editor-in-Chief of Niners Digest and covers the 49ers from their headquarters in Santa Clara. Chris has been writing about the team since the spring of 2013. The Ohio State alum received his Journalism degree in 2011 and has been working in sports media since 2008. Chris, a Santa Rosa, Calif. native, is also a contributor to the Associated Press covering sports throughout the Bay Area. You can follow Chris on Twitter here.
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