Game snapshot: 49ers vs. Seahawks
FAST FACTS: 49ers: Have lost their first two games by a total of five points. ... P Andy Lee is averaging 41.1 yards on 10 punts. No 49er has averaged more than 41 yards since 1998 (Reggie Roby, 41.9). Seahawks: Defense has allowed opponents to convert just 7-of-29 third-down chances. ... Offense's 182 yards last Sunday was its lowest output since Sept. 22, 2002. PERSONNEL NEWS 49ERS: --- DE Brandon Whiting, who has not stepped onto the playing field since coming to the 49ers from Philadelphia in the Terrell Owens trade, is expected to make his debut this weekend. Whiting underwent shoulder surgery shortly after the 49ers acquired him, and he has experienced back pain the last two weeks. If Whiting plays any time in the 49ers' first five games, the 49ers will receive a sixth-round draft pick from the Eagles. If he does not, they would receive a fifth-round pick. --- WR Brandon Lloyd, expected to be the team's top target this season, has only five catches for 36 yards through two games. The team has thrown 14 passes his way, nine of which have fallen incomplete. But coach Dennis Erickson said Lloyd's lack of production has more to do with the defenses they've played against. Lloyd has seen a form of double coverage in each of the first two games. "If Seattle stays with what they do, then Brandon has the opportunity to get a lot of balls," Erickson said. That's if he plays. Lloyd suffered a right groin strain in Thursday's practice and is listed as questionable for the game. --- QB Tim Rattay required eight to 10 painkilling injections just to serve in a backup role last week after sustained a grade-2 separation in the 49ers' season opener Sept. 12 against the Falcons. It will be determined this weekend whether Rattay or rookie Cody Pickett will serve as the No. 2 behind Ken Dorsey. --- RB Kevan Barlow returned to practice Thursday one day after an MRI examination revealed a slight sprain on the MCL on his right knee. Barlow, who is fourth in the NFC with 190 yards rushing, will start Sunday, Erickson said. SEAHAWKS --- LB Isaiah Kacyvenski joined the injury report Thursday. He's probable with a left groin injury. Kacyvenski did not practice Thursday. --- DT Rashad Moore will be bothered by a nagging shoulder problem this season. The team held him out of practice Thursday and added Moore to the injury report as probable. Moore is expected to start Sunday. --- TE Jerramy Stevens returned to practice Thursday after missing a day to rest a sore right knee. The Seahawks expect Stevens to become more involved in the passing game as the season progresses. --- CB Ken Lucas has a much more aggressive attitude this season. Instead of sulking when the team added veteran CB Bobby Taylor in free agency, Lucas went out and won the job. A year or two ago, Lucas might have gone in another direction. "I think he has been too hard on himself early in his career," coach Mike Holmgren said. "I think that has hurt him. ... He just kind of accepted the challenge (this year) and really kicked it up a notch. I'm very proud of him and how he handled that." --- SS Michael Boulware's unassuming approach has endeared him to teammates and coaches. The second-round pick actually thought he was going to be released on the NFL's cutdown to 53 players. The confusion began on the eve of final cuts when Boulware learned through defensive backs coach Teryl Austin that coordinator Ray Rhodes wanted to meet with him the next morning. "I thought I was done," Boulware said. "I hadn't been playing well and I don't ever count my eggs before they've hatched; I hope for the best, but I expect the worst." Boulware hasn't been doing too poorly. He leads the team with two interceptions. INSIDE THE CAMPS 49ERS Erickson is not questioning the durability of 49ers running back Kevan Barlow, but he does want to work backups Terry Jackson and Jamal Robertson into the action a little more. "That's something that I've looked at, without question," Erickson said. "We look at it now and we'll get both of them in the game a little sooner. I would like Kevan to get a feel of the game earlier, then as we get closer to the end of the half I'd like to work those two in." Barlow experienced soreness in his right knee and left practice early on Wednesday. An MRI examination revealed a grade-1 sprain of his medial-collateral ligament, and he was back on the practice field on Thursday. Barlow said he sustained a knee injury in the first quarter of Sunday's game against the Saints and played through the discomfort. He rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with sore ribs. This week, the ribs are not a concern, but the knee is. Still, Barlow is expected to start against the Seahawks. Barlow missed three games due to injuries in his first two seasons as Garrison Hearst's backup. Last season, he played in all 16 games but took himself out of the lineup in Green Bay because he could not get warm on the sideline. He started the final four games of the season and thrived, convincing the 49ers to sign him to a long-term contract. Robertson, for the most part, played well in Barlow's place. Robertson carried nine times for 38 yards and a touchdown, but he failed to secure a handoff from Dorsey with four minutes to play, resulting in a game-turning fumble. Jackson, who is used in a lot of one-back sets even when Barlow is healthy, carried five times for 28 yards. He also nearly supplied the big play of the game when he took a screen pass 37 yards to the Saints' 1-yard line with 12 seconds remaining. However, a pass-interference penalty on receiver Brandon Lloyd brought back the big gainer. SEAHAWKS Pass protection is the key for the Seahawks as they face another blitzing defense. Seattle needs to fend off LB Julian Peterson, among others, in order to unleash its passing game on the 49ers. Seattle managed to hold off Tampa Bay in Week 2 despite allowing four sacks. The Bucs' aggressive, blitzing defense limited the Seahawks to 182 yards, their lowest output in two years. A repeat performance vs. the 49ers on Sunday could leave Seattle with its first home loss since 2002. The 49ers have a new defensive coordinator this season in Willy Robinson, a former Seahawks assistant who isn't afraid to take chances. "They blitz a lot, they try and take advantage of Julian Peterson," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said "They're doing a lot of stuff. And they play awfully hard." Seattle is well-equipped to exploit blitzes, but only if the pass protection holds up. The feeling around team headquarters is that the offensive line is eager to shake off its so-so showing in Tampa. Holmgren also indicated disappointment in the adjustments he made - and failed to make - in Week 2. "You're only as good as your last performance," Seahawks RT Chris Terry said.
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