News & Notes: Is Walter On the Mend?

News & Notes: Is Walter On the Mend?

There's a chance the Seattle Seahawks' best offensive lineman could be ready for an early-season, NFC West division showdown with the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. However, Seahawks head coach Jim Mora is taking a wait-and-see approach to whether or not Walter Jones will play this weekend.

Jones, 35, participated in individual drills at the beginning of practice Wednesday but did not compete in 11-on-11 action with the team. It's the first time Jones suited up for practice since the end of training camp over four weeks ago, when pain in his surgically repaired left knee forced him to leave practice early.

After further evaluation, Jones had arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue and loose bodies in his left knee, which appears to have alleviated the pain. It was Jones' second knee surgery in eight months. The Pro Bowl tackle had season-ending microfracture knee surgery in December, missing the final four games of last season.

Jones declined to answer questions Wednesday about his playing status, telling a team spokesman that he did not want to talk to reporters until after he plays a game.

"I think Walt just has to tell us he's ready to go," Mora said. "No one knows his body as well as he does. And we'll let him tell us he's ready to go. He'll know. He'll make the right decision."

Mora can take his time to bring Jones back slowly after his team's makeshift offensive line, playing without Jones and starting center Chris Spencer, held St. Louis without a sack and paved the way for 167 yards on the ground in a 28-0 win over the Rams in the team's season opener.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Coach Jim Mora said that even though San Francisco running back Frank Gore finished with only 30 yards on 22 carries against Arizona, he expects to see a heavy barrage of the hard-nosed runner on Sunday. "Frank Gore is not afraid of anybody," Mora said. "Frank Gore was held pretty much in check last week against Arizona. Frank Gore is a huge competitor and he's going to have a chip on his shoulder and I don't think he's looking at our defense and going, 'Oh my goodness here we go again.'

"I think he's licking his chops and saying, 'Give me the ball again, I want the ball.'"

--Jim Mora coached for the San Francisco 49ers from 1997 to 2003, including a stint as the team's defensive coordinator. He said one of the benefits during his time with the 49ers was getting to learn from one of the best NFL coaches ever in Bill Walsh. "I didn't want him there to evaluate scheme," Mora said. "I wanted him there to evaluate presentation -- the words that were coming out of my mouth or the voice inflection or the message really more than anything.

"The guy really was brilliant and he was great in front of the team. Steve Mariucci used to have him talk in front of the team every once in a while and he always just had great messages that were compelling and hit the point. He was always right on."

--One of the main defensive players the Seahawks will have to concern themselves with is San Francisco Linebacker Patrick Willis. The Pro Bowler finished with 11 tackles, two assists and one interception in his team's win over Arizona. Mora compared Willis to another talented linebacker - 49ers head coach Mike Singletary.

"He's dynamic, he's explosive, and a playmaker," Mora said about Willis. "He has great energy and passion. You really admire the way he plays football. He plays the game the way the game is supposed to be played. He's starting to look like his head coach back in his prime, which is quite a compliment."

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Number of wins Jim Mora has against San Francisco as a head coach. Mora's Atlanta Falcons defeated the 49ers at San Francisco in the first game of the year of the 2004 season.

76 -- Average number of yards Frank Gore has rushed for against Seattle in the last four games.

3 -- Seattle scored on its first, three possessions in the team's 34-13 win at San Francisco in 2008.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You kind of chuckle. Guys that have coached in this league, we've all done things that we wished we hadn't. It's a passionate and emotional game and sometimes you get caught up in it. He was just trying to make a point. He certainly did a nice job with that team when he took over." -- Seahawks head coach Jim Mora commenting on Mike Singletary pulling his pants down in front of his team as a motivational ploy during halftime of last year's Niners-Seahawks game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Seahawks added veteran linebacker D.D. Lewis in order to add depth at linebacker with Leroy Hill suffering an injured groin in the first game. Will Herring will start for Hill at weak-side linebacker, and Lewis will serve as the fourth linebacker, backing up all three positions.

In order to make room for Lewis, the team waived defensive lineman Derek Walker and later added him to the practice squad. The team dropped Jamar Adams in order to add Walker to the practice squad. Seattle also dropped center Blake Schlueter from the practice squad in order to add offensive lineman Brian De La Puente to the practice squad.

PLAYER NOTES

--S Lawyer Milloy saw limited action in his first game with Seattle, but is expected to play more as he gets more accustomed to the team's defensive schemes.

--DT Red Bryant was inactive for the St. Louis game. Coach Jim Mora said the team will decide between Bryant, Craig Terrell and Michael Bennett on which defensive tackle they want to put on the active roster for each game.

--QB Seneca Wallace will continue to be used as a playmaker in the team's offensive scheme in a Wildcat fashion to force other teams to prepare for him.

--DE Lawrence Jackson received kudos from Mora for his relentless effort against St. Louis.

--DB Josh Wilson finished with two pass deflections and played solid in place of the team's best corner Marcus Trufant, who will miss the first six weeks of the season with a bad back. Trufant began the regular season on the physically unable to perform list.

GAME PLAN: Like Arizona did the game before them, the Seahawks will load up the box defensively and force quarterback Shaun Hill to beat them through the air. Offensively, Seattle will run the ball just enough to keep San Francisco's defense honest, and then look to get the ball to playmakers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: 49ers CB Nate Clements, vs. Seahawks WR Nate Burleson. Clements is one of the top cover corners in the game, and Burleson has played well so far in his first season back since ACL knee surgery a year ago. If Clements can shut down Burleson by himself, it frees up San Francisco to use the rest of its defense to deal with Seattle's other receiving threats.

49ers RB Frank Gore vs. Seahawks DT Colin Cole. Seattle picked up the free agent defensive lineman from Green Bay in order to be a run stuffer for the revamped defensive line. After doing a good job in helping hold Steven Jackson to 67 yards in the team's first game, Cole gets another stiff challenge on Sunday.

INJURY IMPACT: Linebacker Lofa Tatupu did not practice on Wednesday because of a hamstring he injured against St. Louis, but is expected to play on Sunday. T.J. Houshmandzadeh (back spasms) also sat out of practice on Wednesday but is expected to play.

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