Game Preview: Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

The Hawks, coming off the drubbing of the St. Louis Rams, head to the Bay Area to face the struggling 49ers and third-year QB Ken Dorsey. Can the Hawks continue on their winning ways or will they overlook their downtrodden division rivals the week before they host the New York Giants?

What: First meeting of the year between the two teams
When: Sunday, November 20th, 1:05 p.m. (PST)
Where: Monster Park, San Francisco, California
Weather: 71 degrees, Mostly Sunny


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49ers Key Players:

RB Kevan Barlow: Offensively, the 49ers haven't been good at all this season. In fact they have been downright putrid averaging only 199 yards per game total. Barlow signed a big, multi-year deal before last season and has not lived up to expectations. The problems aren't entirely his fault. With young, inexperienced quarterbacks at the helm, teams have focused on the running game the past two seasons and Barlow, for his part, hasn't run with the heart and intensity he showed in his first few seasons while splitting time with veteran RB Garrison Hearst. He leads the 49ers with 482 yards rushing and two touchdowns and has been a solid receiver out of the backfield with 23 catches – tied for the team lead – for 177 yards.

WR Brandon Lloyd: The closest thing the Niners have to a game-breaker on offense, Lloyd has been solid this season. His 23 catches are tied for the lead on the team with Barlow and his 428 yards and three receiving touchdowns lead the team. On most teams Lloyd would be an ideal third wideout, but on the talent-challenged 49ers he is a starter. He still doesn't run crisp routes, but he's improved immensely from the undisciplined rookie he was two years ago. He has outstanding hands, uses his body well to shield defensive backs and seems to make at least one "highlight reel" catch per game. He lacks ideal strength and speed, but when he has the ball in his hands he can be dangerous in the open-field.

LB Derrick Smith: Smith isn't the big name at linebacker, that distinction belongs to Julian Peterson, but he is the most productive. He has posted 54 tackles, including an incredible 9.5 tackles for loss. He also has one interception and five passes defensed. He isn't very big, but he is super-quick and a sure tackler when he gets his hands on the ball-carrier. Smith can struggle if guards are able to get to him, but there is no denying that he is a force from his right inside linebacker position.

DE Bryant Young: He might be an 11-year veteran, but Young can still get after the passer better than almost any defensive lineman in the entire league. His eight sacks are currently tied for second in the NFL and he continues to impress with an excellent bull-rush and enough nimbleness to get around opposing blockers. Young also is solid against the run and has really benefited from first-year head coach Mike Nolan and defensive coordinator Billy Davis' 3-4 scheme.

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Key Matchups:

Young vs. Seahawks RT Sean Locklear: Locklear has been solid in his second season in the league. Billed as a prototypical guard coming out of college, Locklear stepped in at right tackle for injured starter Floyd Womack before the season started and has done nothing but impress. Last week, Locklear stifled the Rams' best pass-rushing threat, Leonard Little, but he'll have his hands full this week with Bryant. Bryant isn't a speed rusher, but he is very quick and if he gets you off balance he will bull-rush right over you. Locklear must win this matchup on a consistent basis so the Seahawks don't have to keep a tight end or running back in to help out. If they can do that, then the passing game should enjoy a good day.

Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. 49ers S Mike Adams: Only in his second season after signing with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent in 2004, Adams has been solid in the secondary for the 49ers. He is tied for second on the team with 48 tackles and has also posted an interception along with five passes defensed. He has good athleticism, but is still learning how to diagnose plays and has a tendency to guess more than read the quarterback's eyes. Hasselbeck has been outstanding this season and he continues to eschew stats for wins. He continues to make good decisions with the ball and has audibled several times to running plays that have resulted in big gains.

49ers QB Ken Dorsey vs. Seahawks FS Marquand Manuel: After the "Wind Bowl" last week in Chicago, Nolan decided earlier this week to sit starter Cody Pickett in favor of the less-athletic, but smarter Dorsey. Dorsey does not have a good arm, but he is accurate when he has time to pass. Manuel has filled in nicely for injured starter Ken Hamlin and will need to continue to improve if the Seahawks want to realize their dreams of a deep playoff or Super Bowl run. Manuel is a hitter and solid tackler. After playing the pass-happy Rams last week, Manuel gets a minor break as none of the 49ers wideouts has the speed to get deep consistently.

Seahawks DE Grant Wistrom vs. 49ers LT Adam Snyder: Snyder has struggled in his rookie season, but that is also because of the inconsistent play of the quarterbacks. Wistrom continues to be solid, but has not gotten pressure on the quarterback like the Seahawks coaches had hoped. Wistrom should have a good day against the young lineman for the 49ers.

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News and Notes: Seahawks offense continues to rank number one overall in the NFL at 391 yards per game; Hasselbeck has won four consecutive starts against the 49ers; RB Shaun Alexander needs 86 yards to reach 1,200 yards for the third consecutive season; Of Alexander's league-leading 17 rushing touchdowns, 11 have come against the NFC West; Rookie LB Lofa Tatupu leads the team with 62 tackles; 49ers have 2-3 record at home; Rookie RB Frank Gore ranks third amongst rookie runners with 326 yards; Series is tied at 6-6, but Seahawks have won last four.

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Injuries:

Seattle:
OUT: WR Darrell Jackson (knee); LB Jamie Sharper (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: T Wayne Hunter (hamstring); DT Marcus Tubbs (calf)
PROBABLE: DT Chartric Darby (knee)


San Francisco:
OUT: CB Ahmed Plummer (ankle); LB Saleem Rasheed (knee)
DOUBTFUL: RB Fred Beasley (neck)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Billy Bajema (shoulder); WR Arnaz Battle (knee); C Jeremy Newberry (knee/shoulder)


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Prediction: Seahawks 38 – 49ers 13

Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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