Game Preview: Seahawks at 49ers

The 1-6 Niners host the Seahawks with injuries mounting and confidence at an all time low.

What: Divisional Game
When: Sunday, November 7th, 1:05 pm (PST)
Where: Monster Park, San Francisco, California




49ers Key Players:

RB Kevan Barlow: Barlow has not run as hard as he did his first three seasons when he split time with veteran RB Garrison Hearst. Now that Barlow is the main man in the 49ers backfield he hasn't been able to run downhill as much and his line hasn't helped matters either. Barlow is at his best when he can grind out four yards per carry and wear defenses down, but since the 49ers have played from behind so much and they have had to pass on most downs he hasn't gotten the looks needed to get his game into gear.

QB Tim Rattay: Rattay is expected back this week after suffering a right forearm injury and sitting last week versus Chicago. Rattay has been solid when he has played, completing 64.4% of his passes for 1,177 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. While he makes good decisions and knows the offense well, he holds the ball too long (he's been sacked 13 times in four games) and is not mobile at all. If he has time he can pick a defense apart but with a young, inexperienced line he hasn't had that luxury.

DT Bryant Young: As the elder statesman along the defensive front, Young has seemed to get better with age. Last week Young had a monster game against the Bears recording ten tackles and two sacks. He stacks the line well and is strong at the point of attack, but his quickness isn't what it used to be and he is drawing double teams since no other inside player has stepped up to take the pressure off the 10-year veteran.

SS Tony Parrish: Parrish is the leading tackler (46) and emotional leader of the defense. He plays the run well but is only average in coverage. He is a ballhawk (tying for the league lead with nine interceptions in 2003) but hasn't intercepted a ball yet as teams have run on the 49ers while they were running out the clock late in games.



Key Matchups:

Seahawks C Robbie Tobeck, RG Chris Gray and LG Steve Hutchinson vs. Young: As stated above, Young is really starting to come on and it will be up to Hutchinson, Gray and Tobeck to neutralize Young so the Hawks can get their ground game going. If they can control Young and keep him from clogging RB Shaun Alexander's running lanes, the Hawks could gash the 49ers all afternoon. Young is also a solid pass-rusher so keeping him from getting a push inside will allow QB Matt Hasselbeck to step up and make his throws without someone in his face.

Seahawks RDE Antonio Cochran vs. 49ers LT Kyle Kosier: Cochran has been solid but not spectacular while filling in for injured DE Grant Wistrom. Last week the Hawks did not pressure Carolina QB Jake Delhomme at all and that resulted in some big plays for the Panthers. Cochran must use his bull-rush on Kosier to keep him off balance and then use his deceptive speed to get around the corner to pressure Rattay. If Rattay has time it could be a long day for the Seahawks secondary.

Seahawks CBs Ken Lucas and Marcus Trufant vs. 49ers WRs Brandon Lloyd and Cedric Wilson: Wilson and Lloyd aren't speed burners but they have enough speed to get separation and they run crisp routes. Both are very good versus zone defenses and are dangerous after the catch. Lucas and Trufant have been on their coverage for the most part all season but they have not made as many plays as expected. Lucas has had a solid season and Trufant, while he has been solid, has regressed just a little in his second season. They must cover these two tightly or it could lead to a lot of third down conversions.

49ers TE Eric Johnson vs. Seahawks SS Terreal Bierria: Bierria has had a tough first half of the season as teams have figured out that he takes some false steps in coverage. He is a big hitter and a sure tackler but his footwork needs to improve. Johnson has been Rattay and Ken Dorsey's favorite target so far this season catching 46 passes for 493 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are unheard of for a tight end and Bierria must contain him or he eat the Hawks alive.



News and Notes:

San Francisco's offense is 29th in rushing, 24th in passing and 25th in points per game; Seahawks WR Jerry Rice returns to San Francisco for the first time since he left there in 2001; Earlier this season the Seahawks ended the 49ers' NFL-record streak without being shut out at 420 games, when they beat the Niners 34-0 at Qwest Field; Seahawks have won the last three meetings between the two teams but the Niners lead the overall series 6-5; RB Shaun Alexander has passed Curt Warner and moved into second place with 16 career multi-touchdown games.



Injuries:

San Francisco:
PROBABLE: WR Brandon Lloyd (hip); LB Saleem Rasheed (knee); QB Tim Rattay (right forearm)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Andre Carter (back); LB Richard Seigler (foot); DE Andrew Williams (shin)
DOUBTFUL: CB Ahmed Plummer (neck)
OUT: C Jeremy Newberry (knee); LB Ray Wells (ankle); DE Brandon Whiting (knee)


Seattle:
PROBABLE: WR D.J. Hackett (hip); LB Anthony Simmons (shoulder); OT Chris Terry (shoulder)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Darrell Jackson (ankle); RB Maurice Morris (concussion); WR Jerry Rice (ankle)
OUT: WR Alex Bannister (collarbone); DE Grant Wistrom (knee)




Prediction: Seattle 24 – San Francisco 20

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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