Good morning from San Francisco. It’s a little foggy here, but no wet stuff. And the weather will be perfect for game time, about 61 degrees and partly cloudy.
Here are five keys for the Seahawks as they take on San Francisco in an important NFC West division battle this afternoon
Tate must be golden: I know Mike Williams is listed as a game-time decision, but I don’t think he will play today. So that means someone in that receiver group needs to step up. And I think that someone should be Golden Tate. He has the skill set to be a dynamic playmaker, he just has to rely on the work he’s put in, don’t think too much and go out there and play free. Let’s see if he’s able to make some “wow” plays today.Open the playbook: Like their coach, San Francisco is an aggressive defense that likes to play downhill and get to the football. So look for Seattle to take advantage of that aggressiveness with some screens, draws and other misdirection or trick plays to keep the Niners honest. We know Jeremy Bates has the ability to come up with some creative things offensively, and I think we’ll see it today.
Be stout in the middle: This is the first time in eight games that both Brandon Mebane and Colin Cole will play together in the middle of Seattle’s defense. And the Seahawks need those guys to be stout against the run on early downs so they can get Alex Smith in some third and long situations. If San Francisco can consistently run the ball, it could be a long day for Seattle.
Finish: Head coach Pete Carroll has emphasized that it’s not how his team starts, it’s how they finish. And that will be important here if Seattle gets down early. They need to continue to play with poise and make the necessary adjustments to get back in the game, just like they did last week against Carolina.
Win on third down: This might be the best indicator for Seattle in terms of whether they win or lose this season. In Seattle six wins the offense is 41 percent (36-88) on third down, and the defense is 19 percent (15-79) on third down. In the Seahawks six losses, the offense is 31 percent (23-74) on third down, and the defense is 55 percent (54-98).
Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson says his old team will not hand Seattle a victory, and confirmed rumors that the Seahawks are considered soft around the league. Robinson: “I think before they might have had a sense that maybe we were soft or something – you know what I mean?” Robinson said. “I’m not going to lie, when I played for San Fran, our thought was we’re going in here and beat Seattle up. And I think they have that mind-set. ... It should be fun. I know that a lot of guys like Coach Singletary in that locker room. And they’re going to give everything they’ve got for him.”
Dave Boling of The News Tribune profiles Matt Hasselbeck as he goes for a franchise-tying 70th victory today.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com notes linebacker David Hawthorne’s increased production. In his first seven games he had 26 tackles. But in his last five he has 53.
Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are finding unconventional ways to win.
John Boyle of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks are playing for their playoff lives today.
ESPN’s Mike Sando breaks down NFC West quarterback’s performance. Matt Hasselbeck has been at his best in Seattle’s three-receiver package on third down.
Pat Kirwan of CBS Sports previews the game in the video below.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers have a better idea of what to expect from the Seahawks in the rematch.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com believes San Francisco should go with the spread offense full-time with Frank Gore out because Alex Smith is most comfortable in that offense.
David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says this is Mike Singletary’s last stand.
The league is considering other alternatives for the Minnesota-N.Y. Giants game after the Metrodome roof collapsed because of snow.