Game Preview - Seahawks vs. 49ers

Sunday will be the 20th meeting between the NFC West rivals. Seattle has won 8 of the last 11 meetings and has a slight 10-9 edge over the 49ers in the all-time series. San Francisco won the previous meeting, a 33-30 overtime game at Qwest Field on September 14.

Injury Report

Seattle Seahawks

Out: QB Matt Hasselbeck (back), TE Will Heller (knee)
Questionable: WR Deion Branch (heel)
Probable: WR Koren Robinson (knee), Lofa Tatupu (concussion), T Floyd Womack (illness)

San Francisco 49ers

Out: S Dashon Goldson (knee), T Jonas Jennings (shoulder), DE Ray McDonald (knee)
Probable: CB Nate Clements (ribs), S Michael Lewis (knee), WR Josh Morgan (groin), S Mark Roman (groin), PR Allen Rossum (groin)

Stats & Rankings

Seattle Seahawks

Offense
Total: 28th (258.3 yards per game)
Passing: 32nd (126.8 yards per game)
Rushing: 8th (131.5 yards per game)
Scoring: 25th (18.3 points per game)

Defense
Total: 27th (363.5 yards per game)
Passing: 29th (242.2 yards per game)
Rushing: 21st (121.3 yards per game)
Scoring: 29th (28.5 yards per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-28th (-6)

San Francisco 49ers

Offense
Total: 24th (299.4 yards per game)
Passing: 18th (197.0 yards per game)
Rushing: 21st (102.4 yards per game)
Scoring: 17th (22.6 points per game)

Defense
Total: 23rd (339.4 yards per game)
Passing: 18th (217.0 yards per game)
Rushing: 23rd (122.4 yards per game)
Scoring: 28th (28.0 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: 30th (-8)

Five to Watch

Here are five keys for the Seahawks when they face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon:

Keep an Eye on Gore: 49ers running back Frank Gore gashed the Seahawks for 356 yards in 2006 as San Francisco swept the season series. In the three meetings, the Seahawks defense has made shutting down Gore their top priority, and they've limited him to 79, 72 and 61 yards. Gore was held to 11 yards on 11 carries last week and Mike Martz could feed him the ball on Sunday to take pressure off J.T. O'Sullivan.

Sacking J.T. O'Sullivan: Seattle got to O'Sullivan eight times in Week 2, but the story of that game was the number of times he was able to escape pressure to make plays down the field. Since that day, the Seahawks pass rush has been ineffective (5 sacks in 4 games), which combined with the ineffective play of the secondary, has led to the Seahawks ranking a dismal 29th in pass defense.

Create Turnovers: The Seahawks have created just five turnovers in 2008 and are -6 in turnover ratio. Last season, they were +10. Facing the turnover prone 49ers and J.T. O'Sullivan is an opportune time to get back being, well, opportunistic.  

Seneca Wallace: Wallace will be making his second consecutive start, and will have to do better than the 12 of 23 for 73 yards performance he turned in last week for the Seahawks to have any chance at winning. This is Wallace's 6th season in Mike Holmgren's offense. He needs to start playing like it.

Remember to Feed Jones and Duckett: Coming out of the bye week, the Seahawks had the #2 rushing attack in the NFL and over a two-game stretch Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett carried the ball 69 times for 349 yards and 5 touchdowns. In the three games since, Seattle has dropped to 8th in rushing, while Jones and Duckett have just 43 carries for 169 yards, and no Seattle running back has crossed the goal-line.

Carries by Jones & Duckett – Last Three Games

Player

at NYG

vs. GB

at TB

Julius Jones

17

12

7

TJ Duckett

4

2

1

 

Holmgren Returning Home?

Mike Holmgren is from the Bay Area and got his start in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Since the 49ers fired Mike Nolan as head coach this week, much of the talk among the Seattle, San Francisco and national media has been whether or not Holmgren would be available to his hometown team in 2009, despite his previous declarations that he would be taking a "sabbatical" next season.

Holmgren still insists that he's taking next season off, and that how Seattle did in 2008 and what jobs are available afterwards won't affect his decision. Still, expect the 49ers to court Holmgren heavily. That may start on Sunday, as the 49ers will be wearing throwback uniforms and honoring the 1958 and 1981 teams.

Programming Notes

A week after being in the national spotlight, the Seahawks return to FOX Sports. Ron Pitts has the play-by-play, with former NFL left tackle Tony Boselli handling the color commentary, which is guaranteed to include a lot of talk about Walter Jones. Danyelle Sargent will be working the sidelines.

Prediction

The primary objective of every team at the start of the season is to win their own division. Even at 1-5, with 4 divisional games remaining, including two against NFC West front-runner Arizona, it's not too late for Seattle to accomplish that goal. The Seahawks can take a step in the right direction by atoning for the game they gave away to the 49ers at Qwest Field earlier this season.  

Prediction: Seahawks 23, 49ers 16

 

Brian McIntyre lives in the Boston area. In addition to writing for Seahawks.Net, Brian maintains his own blog (www.macsfootballblog.com) and charts games for Football Outsiders. If you'd like to e-mail Brian, you may do so here.


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