Game breakdown: 49ers vs. Seahawks

Taking a look deep inside Sunday's game between the 49ers and Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field in Seattle, with snapshot game details, series history, game plans, matchups to watch and injury impact before the pivotal NFC West clash.

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:05 Pacific
SITE: Qwest Field in Seattle
SURFACE: FieldTurf
RECORDS: 49ers 0-1, 0-1 in NFC West, tied for second in division; Seahawks 0-1, 0-1 in NFC West, tied for second in division
TV: FOX (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa)

SERIES HISTORY: 19th meeting. Seahawks lead the series 10-8, including victories in both games last season. The Seahawks outscored the 49ers 47-3 in two games a year ago.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The 49ers will run RB Frank Gore between the tackles in an effort to overpower the Seahawks' smallish front seven. Gore will also be involved in the passing game as San Francisco attempts to take the bite out of the Seahawks' pass rush. QB J.T. O'Sullivan won't be asked to win the game - just manage it - after the 49ers self destructed with a minus-five turnover ratio in their opener. ... The Seahawks' wide receiver woes are well documented - their top four will be sidelined and a pair of second-year players will start. With a rookie at tight end in John Carlson, QB Matt Hasselbeck has no comfortable targets downfield. He also has no comfort in his line, which struggled mightily in week 1 and must account for 49ers DE Justin Smith, who lined up at seven different positions in the opener.

FAST FACTS: Gore has averaged 6.2 yards per carry in four career starts against Seattle. ... Hasselbeck has a 97.2 passer rating with 21 TDs in 10 career starts against San Francisco.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Number of fewer offensive plays the 49ers ran last week against the Cardinals, and they still managed to outgain Arizona 291-285. 10-4 -- Mike Holmgren's regular-season record against the team that gave him his start in the NFL. This will be one of the last two times he faces them.

QUOTES TO NOTE
"You can't. The amount of money we're going to invest in him, he'd have to be proven that he's the guy. When we get to the offseason, he'd have to be the guy for next year" -- 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan on the possibility QB Alex Smith could return next season as a backup with his scheduled $9.625 million salary.
"I bring a big playmaking ability. They have seen me at Oregon and they know what I'm capable of doing. I'm going to try to bring that to the NFL level." -- Newly signed wide receiver Samie Parker.

49ERS GAME PLAN: The 49ers have to find a way to take advantage of the Seahawks depleted corps of wide receivers. The 49ers feel good about their cover guys on the outside with CBs Nate Clements and Walt Harris, so perhaps defensive coordinator Greg Manusky will get more creative with the team's blitz packages. Outside linebacker Manny Lawson might get a chance to pressure the quarterback more than he has in the past. The 49ers will continue to move around Justin Smith, who lined up all over the field in the 49ers' opener. The 49ers employ a hybrid 3-4 defense. He played outside linebacker when the team had a three-man front, and he shifted to defensive end when the team used a 4-3. Offensively, coordinator Mike Martz will give the Seahawks a steady diet of Frank Gore, who looked exceptionally quick in the 49ers' opener. The 49ers like to use Gore between the tackles, and the 49ers believe they have the interior blocking to pound away at defenses. QB J.T. O'Sullivan has to do a better job of protecting the ball. He committed three turnovers in his NFL starting debut, and the 49ers cannot afford a similar performance against the Seahawks.

SEAHAWKS GAME PLAN: The Seahawks must concentrate on stopping running back Frank Gore and dare quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan to beat them. Sullivan had three turnovers against Arizona last week. Offensively, the Seahawks need to establish their running game behind Julius Jones because their passing game has so much uncertainty right now.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
--- 49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Seahawks MLB Lofa Tatupu - Gore is the 49ers' No. 1 option on offense at all times, while Tatupu is the Seahawks' leading tackler and a key against Gore breaking the long run. Two years ago, Gore had games of 212 and 144 rushing yards against Seattle.
--- 49ers CBs Nate Clements and Walt Harris vs. the Seahawks WRs: Clements and Harris bring a wealth of experience. They'll face an inexperienced group missing Deion Branch, Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson, all injured.
--- 49ers RT Jonas Jennings vs. Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney: Jennings is getting used to a new spot after moving from the left to the right side this season. Kerney led the Seahawks with 14.5 sacks last season.
--- 49ers LT Joe Staley vs. Seahawks OLB Julian Peterson: Staley, who was beaten a couple times in the opener on speed moves, will face a pass rusher who relies on his quickness from the outside.
--- 49ers QB J.T. O'Sullivan vs. Seahawks FS Brian Russell: O'Sullivan committed three turnovers in the opener. No doubt Russell will be trying to read the quarterback and react on the ball.
--- Seahawks WR Seneca Wallace vs. 49ers secondary - Wallace could be getting his first start as a split end. He'd face a 49ers secondary that has veteran CBs Walt Harris and Nate Clements.

INJURY IMPACT
49ERS:
CB Donald Strickland (left knee) sat out practice for the second day in a row, but he is expected to be ready for Sunday's game. Strickland sees considerable action on defense when the 49ers go to one of their substitute packages. C Eric Heitmann (right shoulder) missed his second day of practice Thursday, but is expected to be ready to start against the Seahawks.
SEAHAWKS: LB Lofa Tatupu is wearing a soft cast on his injured thumb, but he appears to be unaffected during practice. WR Deion Branch participated in the entire practice but he will not play this week.


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