Seahawks back on track?

Seattle coach Mike Holmgren talks Seahawks and 49ers and discussed adding some Rice to the mix:

Q: Mike, can you talk about your team's recent struggles after such a fine start that culminated with a 34-0 rout of the 49ers?

Holmgren: Well, we played the Rams the next week in a big football game in Seattle. We played a great game for 52 minutes and the 8 minutes of the ugliest stuff that has happened to me as a coach and lost that game. We were kind of licking out wounds the next week and had to travel back to New England. We started the game off 17-0 and then battled back and had a chance to win at the end – it was 23-20 – and we had our chances but lost a tough one there. Then we went down to Arizona and played a crummy game. We played poorly. And then we bounced back nicely against Carolina and played a good game. We're pretty young on defense and if we don't make catastrophic mistakes then we have been OK and can compete. I still think we have a good football team. We learned some tough lessons there. Now we are back on track.

Q: What's your receiver situation look like this week?

Holmgren: It's grim. Yeah, that's the best way I can put it. We have one healthy body in Koren Robinson. There is a chance a couple of them might be available Sunday. They are all on the mend, so to speak. Then we lost Alex Bannister, also a special teams player, for the season probably. So we will have to make some moves at the end of the week to shore up the receiver position.

Q: What can you tell us of Robinson's pending suspension by the league?

Holmgren: Well, you know I'm not involved in the timing of that. He has appealed and there is a hearing date coming up in November at some point. That's all I can tell you. He's playing and practicing hard and he's going to appeal the letter he received. As of right now he's our one healthy guy.

Q: What about Jerry Rice's availability?

Holmgren: Well, Jerry has a chance to play. He wants to play. He's coming back home. The thing with Jerry is that he hasn't been hurt very much in his life. It's a remarkable thing to play 20 years and to have as few injuries as he has. I remember when I was in San Francisco and he hurt his knee. If I remember correctly he didn't miss a game. (Here) He hurt his ankle and he is probably not going to practice much. He is improving, so he has a chance to play.

Q: Has Rice lived up to your expectations so far?

Holmgren: He's been great. I wouldn't have done that with just anybody. He has come in and he is the player I remember, just older. There are some things he doesn't do as well. He is a very good football player. He's a tremendous model for our younger guys. He's not very vocal, as you know. But just how he operates and practices and how he conducts himself in meetings. That's real healthy for our young guys to watch him. At first they were kind of standoffish and now he's part of the group. I know that he will be a positive influence.

Q: Was that receiver group awed by Rice?

Holmgren: I don't know. In this day and age it's real important to be cool about everything. But here these guys know who he is and yeah, there was probably a little of that.

Q: What's Rice's role going to be if he plays this Sunday?

Holmgren: It's hypothetical. He would do what he does. He was our third or fourth receiver depending on Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. If he is one of the healthy guys he's going to play a lot more than he played in the first few games.

Q: How's your quarterback, Matt Hasselbeck, been doing lately?

Holmgren: Matt's had a good season. There are high expectations up here for him. He's a good player. He's a good quarterback and he'll be good for a long time. What he has to fight is that he cannot win the game by himself. He has to play the game smartly. The great quarterbacks figure that out. He thinks he's not doing his job if he's just completing balls. Most of the time that gets quarterbacks jammed up. He's the guy that has to take us where we want to go and he's capable of doing that. He had a very good game last week and I think there was one interception but other than that he played a good football game. In our offense, the quarterback is pivotal.

Q: After whipping the 49ers so decisively in September, what do you do to make sure your team doesn't come out expecting an easy victory this time?

Holmgren: It's something that you have to for sure talk about. In our business that type of game doesn't happen often. Most games are close games. With us, you have to see how the 49ers are playing on film. The 49ers are playing hard. You have to earn your way. No one will give you anything. Guys are human beings and they played in that game, but still, they are also smart enough to know that it is a different day and different team. We have to focus on the opponent.

Q: Is Jamie Winborn somebody you have to focus on more now with Julian Peterson out?

Holmgren: Absolutely. Absolutely. I could give them numerous examples of guys relaxing because the guy they thought they were playing against was inactive and then the guy that they played against just killed us. I remember when Charles Haley was win Dallas and we were at Green Bay and we got word that Haley wasn't going to play. Our left tackle took a deep breath and just got his butt kicked by whoever came in and played. We respect Jamie as a player and you have to approach every game the same way. As a young team we have to not worry about who we are playing against and strive for consistency and get better at eliminating mistakes.

Q: Do you see any improvements in the 49ers since the last time you played them?

Holmgren: To me, they are the same team defensively. I have tremendous respect for them. I think we had a pretty good game against them. As you know, I don't study the offensive side of the ball so much during the week. I know that they have been hurt, but still, you must respect your opponent. You must start there and then work on how you are going to get things done yourself. Every Sunday there are examples of teams that probably weren't ready to play mentally and get their butt beat.

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