Game Preview: Seahawks-49ers

No team is more aware of how dangerous 49ers running back Frank Gore (left) can be than the Seattle Seahawks.

San Francisco 49ers (5-6) at Seattle Seahawks (4-7)

Time & Place:
Sunday, December 6, 2009
1:15pm PT
Qwest Field
Seattle, WA

Regular season series: Sunday will be the 22nd meeting between the Seahawks and 49ers, and the Seahawks hold a slight 11-10 edge in the all-time series after the 49ers won the first meeting between the two teams back in Week 2. Since joining the NFC West in 2002, the Seahawks are 9-6 against the 49ers.

Notable Newcomers

San Francisco
Dre Bly, CB (UFA, Denver)
Demetric Evans, DE (UFA, Washington)
Brandon Jones, WR (UFA, Tennessee)
Moran Norris, FB (UFA, Detroit)
Keith Smith, CB (UFA, Detroit)
Matt Wilhelm, LB (UFA, Philadelphia)

Seattle
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR (UFA, Cincinnati)
Colin Cole, DT (UFA, Green Bay)
John Owens, TE (UFA, Detroit)
Ken Lucas, CB (UFA, Carolina)
Lawyer Milloy, S (UFA, Atlanta)
Cory Redding, DE (Trade, Detroit)

2009 Draft Class

San Francisco
Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech (1st round, 10th overall)
Glen Coffee, RB, Alabama (3rd round, 74th overall)
Scott McKillop, LB, Pittsburgh (5th round, 146th overall)
Nate Davis, QB, Ball State (5th round, 171st overall)
*Bear Pascoe, TE, Fresno State (6th round, 184th overall)
**Curtis Taylor, S, LSU (7th round, 219th overall)
Ricky Jean-Francois, DE, LSU (7th round, 244th overall)

Seattle
Aaron Curry, LB, Wake Forest (1st round, 4th overall)
Max Unger, C/G, Oregon (2nd round, 49th overall)
Deon Butler, WR, Penn State (3rd round, 91st overall)
Mike Teel, QB, Rutgers (6th round, 178th overall)
*Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers (7th round, 245th overall)
Nick Reed, DE, Oregon (7th round, 247th overall)
Cameron Morrah, TE, California (7th round, 248th overall)
*-Waived
**-On Injured Reserve

Stats & Rankings

San Francisco

Offense
Total: 27th (279.0 yards per game)
Passing: 23rd (184.3 yards per game)
Rushing: 26th (94.7 yards per game)
Scoring: 19th (20.7 points per game)

Defense
Total: 22nd (351.4 yards per game)
Passing: 28th (256.5 yards per game)
Rushing: 5th (94.8 yards per game)
Scoring: 11th (19.4 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-9th (+2)

Seattle 

Offense
Total: 21st (319.5 yards per game)
Passing: 15th (227.4 yards per game)
Rushing: 28th (92.2 yards per game)
Scoring: 20th (20.3 points per game)

Defense
Total: 20th (348.8 yards per game)
Passing: 25th (238.1 yards per game)
Rushing: 18th (110. yards per game)
Scoring: 20th (22.7 points per game)

Turnover Ratio: t-18th (-3)

TV/Radio

FOX has Chris Myers and Ross Tucker calling the game, with Jaime Maggio reporting from the sidelines. As always, the game can also be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle and 97.3FM, with Steve Raible handling the play-by-play, Warren Moon providing the analysis, and Jen Mueller on the sidelines.

Vegas Line: Pick ‘em (o/u 41 ½)

Keys to the Game

Beat the Spread – Entering the season with the goal of establishing a "run-first" identity, the insertion of quarterback Alex Smith into the starting lineup has led to the 49ers using a full-blown spread offense much of time. The signing of first-round pick Michael Crabtree—who was unsigned and missed the first meeting—as well as the continued development of Josh Morgan played a role in the shift in offensive philosophy, but it's been tight end Vernon Davis who has emerged as Smith's most trusted target, catching 34 passes for 402 yards and 6 touchdowns in the 5 ½ games since Smith replaced Shaun Hill.

David Hawthorne vs. Frank Gore – No team in the NFL should be more aware of the dangerousness of Frank Gore than the Seattle Seahawks, as the 2009 season might look a whole lot different had Gore not broken for touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards back in Week 2.  The spread has taken away some of his carries, but he's very active in the passing game, targeted an average of 7 times per game as the check-down receiver the last five weeks. The responsibility for covering that receiver typically falls to the linebackers, so David Hawthorne, Lory Hill, and Aaron Curry will have to be wary of Smith having such a dangerous weapon as his safety valve.

Air It Out – One week after running for a pathetic 4 yards against the Minnesota Vikings, the Seahawks posted 170 yards on the ground during last week's win over the St. Louis Rams. Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks' passing game were limited to just 98 yards through the air last Sunday, so a similar, significant increase in the passing game's production will be needed to beat the 49ers this week. With the 49ers possessing the NFL's 28th-ranked pass defense, it's certainly possible.

NorthwestFootball.net Prediction

Outgoing Seahawks president and general manager Tim Ruskell asked the team for a win this Sunday over the 49ers. Playing at home for the first time in over a month (Great job, NFL schedule-makers!), should give be enough for the team Ruskell assembled to give their former leader an early Christmas present.   

Pick: Seahawks 27, 49ers 23

In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.

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