Game Breakdown: 49ers vs. Seahawks

Taking a look deep inside Sunday's game between the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in a battle of NFC West frontrunners at Monster Park in San Francisco, with snapshot game details, series history, game plans, matchups to watch and injury impact.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:05 Pacific
SITE Monster Park in San Francisco
RECORDS: 49ers 4-5, second place in NFC West, 1-1 in division; Seahawks 6-3, first place in NFC West, 3-0 in division
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, JC Pearson, Chris Myers
2006 NFL RANKINGS: Seahawks: offense 22nd (14th rush, 21st pass); defense 18th (13th rush, 22nd pass). 49ers: offense 26th (11th rush, 25th pass); defense 25th (18th rush, 24th pass)

SERIES HISTORY: 15th meeting. Seattle leads the series 8-6. The Seahawks have won six consecutive games against the 49ers, including 27-25 at San Francisco last season. The Seahawks prevailed in the most recent meeting, a 41-3 victory at Qwest Field.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The 49ers are riding a two-game winning streak, but have still been outscored by a combined 115 points against their four opponents that currently have winning records. To change that trend, RB Frank Gore needs to recover from the concussion he suffered last Sunday and control the clock on the ground. Seattle's secondary is vulnerable, but the Seahawks also blitz heavily from the linebacker spot and could abuse QB Alex Smith against a line not as adept at pass blocking. Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander practiced this week and should split duty with backup Maurice Morris, but QB Matt Hasselbeck is likely another week away from playing. Seneca Wallace has managed the offense well in his absence, and coach Mike Holmgren won't be shy about spreading the field and allowing Wallace to attack a 49ers secondary that will have trouble keeping tabs on all of Seattle's receiving options.

FAST FACTS: Seahawks -- OLB Julian Peterson, a former 49er, has a career-high 8.0 sacks. ... Have won the past six meetings, scoring an average of 31.3 points. 49ers -- Coach Mike Nolan will wear a suit on the sideline - the first of two games the NFL approved him to allow the attire this season. ... Are 4-0 when Gore has at least 20 carries.

BY THE NUMBERS: 115 -- Number of points by which the 49ers have been outscored in their four games against teams that currently hold winning records (Eagles, Chiefs, Chargers and Bears). 1,087 -- The Seahawks are on pace for 1,087 fewer yards than they gained last season.

"Whether all 11 that are out there playing on defense are a part of the defense or not next year ... they are a huge part in the building of the defense and the success that comes down the road. They are establishing a standard and a work ethic that when times get tough, you continue to work through them. Any time you have success, I'd like to think it would breed more success." -- 49ers coach Mike Nolan
This is the most injuries on one side of the ball (offense) that I can remember." -- Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren on losing Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselbeck, Bobby Engram, Floyd Womack, Sean Locklear and Jerramy Stevens

49ERS GAME PLAN: The 49ers might have to spread themselves a little thin this week. After all, the defense is not quite sure if they'll be facing Matt Hasselbeck or Seneca Wallace at quarterback for the Seahawks, and whether it'll be Shaun Alexander or Maurice Morris at running back. The 49ers' defense has done a good job in recent weeks of playing simple defenses in which everybody knows what they're doing. Call it vanilla, but it sure beats the flavor they had tasted for the first seven games of the season. The 49ers have played pretty good run defense for most of the season, so they've decided to play more seven men in the box and place some emphasis on slowing down opposing passing attacks. It'll continue to be important to get production out of linebacker Brandon Moore, who plays inside on first and second downs and then lines up at left defensive end on pass-rush situations. Offensively, the 49ers have to do a better job of capitalizing on good field position. In the past two games, the 49ers have gotten inside the opponents' 20-yard line five times and have scored just 15 points. They can't leave that many points on the field this week against the Seahawks. Running back Frank Gore should be healthy, after exiting last week's game against the Vikings with a mild concussion. Gore and quarterback Alex Smith have to work in tandem. Smith is his most effective when Gore is running well, and play-action has a big impact as far as slowing down the defense. Smith will use a bunch of rollouts and try to break contain against the Seahawks' outside defenders.

SEAHAWKS GAME PLAN: The Seahawks need to stick with their ground game. It's a simple strategy and one that worked in consecutive victories over Oakland and St. Louis. Maurice Morris and/or Shaun Alexander should find ample running room behind an offensive line that is finally getting to the second level. The passing game will be there, but Seattle should be selective. There's no need to take undue chances if the running backs are getting 4-5 yards a carry. Defensively, the Seahawks should blitz 49ers QB Alex Smith until the second-year pro proves he can beat them. That means sending Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu up the middle. Seattle DT Rocky Bernard is starting to get some pressure, too.

--- 49ers CBs Shawntae Spencer and Walt Harris, who are coming off a strong performance against the No. 6-ranked passing of the Lions, vs. Seahawks WRs Deion Branch and Darrell Jackson, the team's top two pass-catchers who have combined for 10 TDs this season.
--- 49ers LB Brandon Moore, who has been particularly effective lining up at LDE in passing situations with four sacks in two games, vs. Seahawks RT Tom Ashworth, who makes his third straight start and has played well against the Raiders and Rams.
--- 49ers LT Jonas Jennings, who has performed well when he's been healthy, vs. Seahawks LB Julian Peterson, who already has more sacks in nine games (8) than he had during any of his six seasons with the 49ers.

Seattle's injury outlook has improved now that Womack and Ashworth are finding their way on the offensive line. Alexander's situation is secondary to the Seahawks' fortunes at this point. If he plays, the team will become more effective in the red zone. But improved blocking is the key, not who lines up at running back. And the line is starting to jell even if C Robbie Tobeck (illness) and RT Sean Locklear (ankle) can't go. Whether Seneca Wallace or Matt Hasselbeck starts at QB will be a game-time decision, but the Seahawks appear to be leaning toward Wallace to give Hasselbeck another week to his get his sprained knee ligament stronger.
49ERS: TE Vernon Davis (right fibula) might be available against the Seahawks after being sideline since Sept. 24 against the Eagles. He is listed as questionable. RB Frank Gore sustained a mild concussion against the Lions, but is expected to start. WR Arnaz Battle sustained a broken left hand but is not even listed on the injury report. Battle said he might have surgery on Monday to insert a screw or two into his hand, but he does not expect to miss any game action.

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