49ers RB Frank Gore
Boy, oh boy, no one saw the Seahawks getting shellacked in week one on the road at Buffalo. The defense held it’s own, but the offense and the special teams were dreadful in a 34-10 loss and to top things off, the Seahawks have lost their top wideout and starting right guard. Will they be able to get well this week against the San Francisco 49ers in a very important divisional match-up?
Who: Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers
What: Home opener at Qwest Field
When: Sunday, September 14th, 1:00 p.m. (PST)
Where: Qwest Field, Seattle, Washington
Overview: The loss to the Bills wasn’t just the worst opening day loss in the Mike Holmgren era, it was the worst in 11 years dating back to 1997 when the New York Jets put a hurting on the Seahawks 41-3 at the Kingdome.
Seattle was so inept on offense, P Ryan Plackemeier, who had an awful day and was cut two days later, seemingly spent more time on the field than QB Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle converted only three of 16 third downs and amassed only 252 total yards while Hasselbeck ran for his life, getting hit 15 times, hurried six more times while being sacked five times.
Will things get better this week? It’s tough to say.
Starting WR Nate Burleson has been lost for the season with an ACL tear in his left knee while starting RG Rob Sims, who has struggled at times during his three years with the Seahawks, tore his pectoral muscle and he too will miss the rest of the season as well.
Luckily for the Seahawks, they get some home cooking this weekend against a team they swept last year and whose starting quarterback is making only his second NFL start.
The Seattle faithful will need to live up to their reputation as the best home crowd in the leauge this weekend and hopefully it helps the home team bust out of their doldrums.
Seahawks safeties Deon Grant and Brian Russell vs. 49ers QB J.T. O’Sullivan: Russell and Grant didn’t have very good days against Buffalo. Grant had a good game statistically, posting seven tackles, but he was caught out of position several times on long completions by Bills QB Trent Edwards and WR Lee Evans. Russell missed a couple of tackles in the open field and he too struggled at times in coverage. O’Sullivan doesn’t have the arm that Edwards has and the 49ers don’t possess a receiver with the speed of Evans. If Seattle can limit the deep passes, then the 49ers will struggle on offense.
Seahawks LB Lofa Tatupu vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: Gore isn’t the most dynamic running back. He doesn’t have big-time speed and he isn’t super-elusive, but he has a knack for squeezing through cracks and he explodes into tacklers. Tatupu and his other linebacker mates will need to be on full-alert to keep Gore from gashing them like he has in the past. If they can keep the 49ers in third-and-long situations, they might be able to harass O’Sullivan into some mistakes.
Seahawks DE Patrick Kerney vs. 49ers RT Jonas Jennings: In what is becoming a trend, Seattle really struggled to generate a pass rush on the road. Kerney got Seattle’s loan sack last week on the fourth play of the game. Other than that and a few moments where they got some pressure on Edwards, the young Bills quarterback remained upright for a majority of the time. Since they are playing at home and they will have the noise level cranked by the fans in the stands, Kerney should have a big game and the front four as a whole should have a chance to get to O’Sullivan.
Seahawks wide receivers vs. 49ers secondary: We previewed this matchup last week when the Seahawks took on the Bills and that was when they had Burleson. Now, Seattle will turn to Courtney Taylor, who had a miserable day catching the ball against Buffalo and has reportedly struggled all week hanging onto the rock, Logan Payne at two newly signed veterans – Sammie Parker and Billy McMullen. Oy…not good. With Hasselbeck throwing their way and leading the offense, I think this unit has a chance to at least keep its collective head above water, but don’t be surprised if TE John Carlson leads the team in receptions – he had four catches for 52 yards last week. San Francisco’s corners are big and physical, but their safeties are average at best. If Seattle can exploit the middle of the field, they have a chance to move the ball on a consistent basis.
Seahawks G Floyd Womack vs. 49ers DT Isaac Sopoaga: Womack steps in for the injured Sims and it will be interesting to see how long the oft-injured veteran from Mississippi holds up. He’s got the skills to be a solid offensive lineman, but if he can’t stay on the field, what good is he? Backing up Womack is second-year pro Mansfield Wrotto who is talented, but is still raw. Sopoaga is super-strong and very active. He isn’t the most athletic guy out there, but with his size (6-2, 330) he’s difficult to move off the line. Seattle must get a running game going and this is the key matchup in getting one started.
Notable Notes: Gore loves playing Seattle. In four games against the Seahawks he has 507 yards rushing and set a career-high against them in 2006 with 212 yards on the ground; WR Isaac Bruce is third in NFL history with 14,109 yards receiving and is number in active receivers; Hasselbeck is 8-2 as a starter against San Francisco; LB Julian Peterson has 21.5 sacks in 37 games with Seattle; Seattle has won 24 of its past 28 games, 15 of its last 19 divisional games; Seattle leads the series 10-8.
Key rankings: Seattle offense (26th); Seattle defense (T 21st); San Francisco offense (22nd); San Francisco defense (10th).
PROBABLE: QB Matt Hasselbeck (back); LB Lofa Tatupu (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: WR Deion Branch (knee); DE Baraka Atkins (back); CB Marcus Trufant (hand)
DOUBTFUL: OT Sean Locklear (knee)
OUT: WR Bobby Engram (shoulder); RB Maurice Morris (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Donald Strickland (knee); C Eric Heitmann (shoulder)
Predicton: Seattle 27 – San Francisco 16
Scott Eklund writes and reports for Seahawks.NET and Dawgman.com. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.