The season's already over for the 4-7 Seattle Seahawks. They waved bye-bye to G.M. Tim Ruskell and anticipate the possible return of Mike Holmgren as well as a 2010 NFL Draft that could see them picking twice in the first 15 picks. For the 5-6 Niners, a win here keeps their division hopes alive.
INJURIES:It would figure that, just as incumbent starter Julius Jones was set to return from a bruised lung, Justin Forsett would injure his quad. The versatile Forsett, the team's best offensive weapon all season, is listed as questionable but should see some action against San Francisco. How much action Forsett will see will depend on what Seattle sees out of Jones early on.
For the 49ers, wide receiver Issac Bruce(ankle) and inside linebacker Takeo Spikes(hamstring) are the only iffy players of note on the injury report. Both are listed as questionable.
PLAYER TO WATCH: 49ers RB Frank Gore- Seahawks fans remember quite vividly what Gore did to their team in Week 2 and the Seahawks defense remembers the back of Gore's jersey vividly as it saw The Inconvenient Truth break out two long touchdowns on rout to 207 yard performance. A lot has changed for the Niners offense since then. For one, the Niners now have former top overall pick Alex Smith under center and the offense has a new focal point to help move the chains in tight end Vernon Davis. While the Smith-to-Davis combo has created the most buzz over the past month or so, that shouldn't be an excuse for the Seahawks to forget about Gore. Of course, stacking the box to stop Gore only opens things up for Davis up the seam. The only real way the Seahawks can avoid picking their poison is if THEIR offense can jump out to an early lead and force the Niners to abandon the run quickly.
KEY MATCHUP: QB Matt Hasselbeck vs. MLB Patrick Willis- It's not what you would call a conventional matchup as Hasselbeck isn't technically lining up against Willis but we all know what happened the last time these two collided. On a goal-line stand back in Week 2, Hasselbeck's legs felt suddenly spry and the former B.C. Eagle attempted to scramble into the end zone where he was immediately blasted by Willis. The hit broke Hasselbeck's ribs and, eventually, the Seahawks' spirits the rest of the season. Now, in the rematch, it will be interesting to see if Hasselbeck pays some extra attention to the speedy Willis and maybe becomes a bit more conservative in his decision-making. The Seahawks' best chance of playing spoiler is if they can finally put all their offensive potential together and force a struggling 49ers offense into a shootout. However, if Willis' presence gives Hasselbeck bad memories and forces the vet to be a little too cautious, this one will be over quick much like the last time they met.
OUTLOOK:Playing at home with a chance to hinder a division rival's playoff chances should be enough motivation for the Seahawks to pull off the upset. However, injuries and inconsistency has plagued this team all year. Their pass protection has been spotty and the only resemblance of a running game has come from Justin Forsett, who will be hobbled by a quad injury. On defense, turnovers and sacks have been few and far between and while that could change against a soft 49er offensive line, there is nothing all season to suggest the Seahawks won't get rolled over once again by a Niners team that has the NFC West crown in their sights. With division leader Arizona, who are two games up on San Fran, facing 10-1 Minnesota, the Niners have a good shot at making up some ground. If things goaccording to plan(i.e. Cards lose, Niners win), that makes next Monday's Niners-Cardinals showdown for the NFC West title. If the Niners beat Arizona next week, they would own the tiebreaker over the defending NFC champs thanks to their Week 1 win over the Cards in Arizona. With all that etched in the mind of head coach Mike Singletary and company, all signs point to another Niners ugly, physical victory.
SCORE: 49ers 24, Seahawks 13
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.