GameScout: Seahawks at 49ers

As Seattle's offense moves from the run to the pass, San Francisco just hopes for some manner of offensive upswing. The 49ers swept the Seahawks last year, but let's not crown them division kings just yet - the Seahawks have a smarter defense, and a quarterback who's playing out of his mind these days.

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Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
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GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF:
Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/30/07
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 17th meeting. The series is tied, 8-8, with San Francisco winning the past two after Seattle had taken six straight.

KEYS TO THE GAME: San Francisco would be more than happy to keep the score low. Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck has started off the season very strong, but still needs more help from his receivers holding onto passes, and coach Mike Holmgren would like to get TE Marcus Pollard more involved downfield. ... 49ers RB Frank Gore averaged 178 rushing yards in the two meetings last year, and his hard-hitting style should still give the undersized interior of the Seahawks' line major issues. WR Darrell Jackson faces his former team needing to step up for QB Alex Smith with TE Vernon Davis out and defenses overplaying to stop Gore.

KEY INJURIES: Seahawks: RB Maurice Morris (hip) is expected to play after missing two games. 49ers: Davis (knee) is out at least two games; S Mark Roman (elbow) and LT Jonas Jennings (leg strain) are expected to play.

FAST FACTS: Hasselbeck has a 105.8 passer rating in his past five games against the 49ers. ... Gore's 39 rushing yards last Sunday was his lowest output in 20 NFL starts.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Seahawks:


--RB Maurice Morris, who practiced Wednesday and was expected to be back in action after nursing a hip injury, did not practice Thursday but was back on the field Friday.
--WR D.J. Hackett continues to work on the sidelines and is not expected back from his high-ankle sprain until the Seahawks' bye week in late October.
--TE Ben Joppru, out with an ankle injury, continues to miss practice.
--WR Ben Obomanu is back from a hamstring injury and is serving as the fourth receiver.
--RB Shaun Alexander continues to practice with a cast to protect the cracked bone in his left wrist.

49ers:

--TE Delanie Walker believes he can be a stronger receiving threat than teammate Vernon Davis, who will miss at least two games with a knee sprain. Walker played wide receiver at Central Missouri State, where he caught 113 passes in 20 games. "I'm going to be a little different than Vernon," Walker said. "I'm more of a receiver. When I get the ball, I'm going to get yards after the catch." Walker had a brace on his right thumb. He said he sustained a sprain in Sunday's game, but that it won't be an issue against the Seahawks.
--LT Jonas Jennings did not practice Thursday, one day after sustaining a leg strain in practice. The 49ers expect him to practice Friday and be available to play in Sunday's game. If he can't go, Adam Snyder would likely get the call at left tackle against the Seahawks.
--RS Michael Lewis, a six-year veteran whom the 49ers signed Tuesday to replace Brandon Williams, will likely return punts Sunday against the Seahawks. The 49ers are not planning on him returning kickoffs, but he could do that, too.
--LB Patrick Willis has registered double-digit tackle numbers in each of his three games, according to the coaches' review of the game film. Willis, a rookie selected with the No. 11 overall pick, has 35 tackles in three games.
--P Andy Lee has gotten off to a strong start. Lee has a 47.3-yard average on a league-high 19 punts this season. His net average is a strong 41.7. The 49ers matched an offer sheet from the Steelers in the offseason to retain his services.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

Seahawks:


On one play against Cincinnati, Shaun Alexander executed a double-flub. First, he missed his block on the blitzing linebacker, and when quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tried to quickly unload a pass to Alexander before he got hit, Alexander dropped it.

Not that the back has earned a strong reputation for either blocking or receiving, but now he's attempting it with a cast on his left wrist, protecting a cracked bone. At one point against the Bengals, he got the wrist bent back slightly and came out holding it. At halftime, they put on a larger, sturdier cast to protect it.

Alexander has practiced again this week and is expected to see full duty against San Francisco.

That doesn't mean that coach Mike Holmgren is entirely comfortable with him. During the week, he tested Alexander. "I asked him if the cast bothered him," Holmgren said. "There were a couple times in the game he didn't use his cast hand. I got the trainers, I got everyone together and I said, 'Listen, either we can do this or we can't.' The trainer said he should be able to do it and Shaun said he was okay. Nobody can block with one arm, it just doesn't work. I think he will be fine."

49ers:

Niners wide receiver Darrell Jackson claims this is just another game. But facing his former team, and an NFC West rival, is bound to get him a little more determined.

"You want to do good," he said, "because we can go to 3-1."

Jackson, in his first season with the 49ers, will be facing his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, for the first time in his career. He spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Seahawks, where he led the team in receiving four times.

It is obviously a big game for Jackson and the 49ers. He wanted to be ready for the occasion, so he went out and got a haircut. Jackson had let his hair (and beard) grow to the point that his helmet did not fit properly.

"I couldn't see the ball because my helmet was sitting too high on my head, you know what I'm saying?" Jackson said. "I tried to get away with it for three games. I had some problems seeing. Now it's a little better, I guess."

Jackson and quarterback Alex Smith are showing the makings of building good chemistry. Jackson leads the 49ers with 11 receptions for 166 yards in three games.

"I was pleased to see Alex's confidence in him and trust in his route-running," 49ers coach Mike Nolan said. "It was evident by the way he threw the ball to him. I know there were back-to-back throws that he threw to D-Jack that involved anticipation on Alex's part, and D-Jack was going to be where he had to be."

The 49ers acquired Jackson in April on a draft-day trade with the Seahawks. Jackson was unhappy with his contract situation with the Seahawks for a couple years. He did not see eye-to-eye with Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell. Nolan said he and vice president of player personnel Scot McCloughan, who formerly worked for the Seahawks, talked a lot about Jackson leading up to the trade.

"He was aware of the fact that (Jackson) was unhappy with some contract things," Nolan said. "There is a little bit of a surprise (in an intradivision trade), but not totally."

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