Sensitive subjects in Seattle

The 49ers can bury yet another NFC West opponent deep below them in the division tonight when they meet the Seahawks on national television. But as coach Steve Mariucci will tell you, the Niners have their share of reasons to be sensitive going into Seattle.

The relationship between Mariucci and Seattle coach Mike Holmgren always is a good topic to bring up when these two coaches get together. But it's not nearly as volatile as the old days when Holmgren still was head coach at Green Bay, where he gave Mariucci his break in the NFL as the Packers' quarterbacks coach. The Holmgren-led Packers and Mooch-directed 49ers had some heated battles for NFL supremacy at the end of the 1990s, but now it's almost a moot issue, even with the Seahawks becoming the Niners' new rival in the NFC West.

There weren't many sore words coming from either coach in regards to the other this week.

"I think the world of Mike Holmgren," Mariucci said. "I owe him a lot."

"He's done a great job with San Francisco," Holmgren said.

So much for getting worked up over that angle. The Niners have plenty of other issues to be concerned about entering tonight's game.

Mariucci pointed out a few of them:

-- Seattle star running back Shaun Alexander: "He's strong and he's fast and he can catch the ball out of the backfield," Mariucci said. "He's a tough guy. He's had some monster games. My approach to the team was that part of what we have to do to win this game is bottle him up and tackle him and get a lot of hats to the ball. He's very, very dangerous. It's going to be important that we tackle him and wrap him up and bring him down early."

-- Seattle rested after bye week: "They've had 15 days to prepare, which is a long time. They had a bye and a Monday night game. It's kind of unusual. It's a long layoff for them. They are going to be healthier. They are going to get three or four of their players, their key players, back and healthy. They should be at their best for this game at this point in the season."

-- Atmosphere of game: "The city is excited about that new stadium they have. It will be a big game for them to get back into this conference race. It will be a big game for us because we get a chance to get out in front of this division a little bit. We like playing on Monday night. We'll have a good plan for them, and I'm sure it will be a hard-fought game."

Holmgren added, "It's not going to get any more fun than Monday night in our stadium, where we got this wonderful new place to play. The weather is going to be pretty good. It's Monday Night Football, the first time in 10 years in Seattle. It doesn't get anymore prime-time than that for our players."


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