Happy New Year!
Supposed to be 54 degrees and sunny for what may be a half-empy Blue Jeans Stadium in the South Bay today for the Seahawks’ regular-season finale over a 49ers team reportedly preparing to fire both first-year coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke after the game.
Seattle has other matters:
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-5-1) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-13)
Sunday 1:25 p.m., Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
TV: KCPQ Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: The Seahawks have won five consecutive regular-season meetings and seven of their last eight against their NFC West rivals. San Francisco last beat Seattle on Dec. 8, 2013, 19-17, the Bay Area. A loss by the 49ers here would tie the most consecutive defeats in the all-time series. Seattle leads it 20-15, not including its 23-17 home win in the NFC championship game on Jan. 19, 2014.
Line: Seahawks by 9½.
Get Rawls rolling: His first carry Sunday will be the latest he’s ever rushed in any football season, even before he was at Northern High School in Flint, Michigan. Last week he missed the second half of the loss to Arizona with a bruised shoulder, but he practiced full all this past week. He’s had three injuries in the last 12½ months, and what offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell rightly called a "Rolodex of runners" has been a large reason Seattle is 22nd in the NFL in rushing. Getting Rawls right against the league’s worst run defense is job one for the Seahawks’ inconsistent offense before the playoffs begin.
Look and feel like a playoff team: The champions of the weak NFC West looked and played last week like they were closer to the offseason than the postseason. This is no time to be coasting, not with a first-round game likely looming next weekend. Russell Wilson cited the need to have requisite "tenacity" from the very start of games. If they don’t get tenacity right away pronto, they could be one and done in the playoffs. "In terms of finding the tenacity in every game, I think it’s just within," Wilson said. "I think it’s communication, execution, I think it’s continuing to be engaged and continuing to find the importance in every single play, every single detail." If they can’t be tenacious against the league’s worst defense, they aren’t nearly as good as they think they are and will become again.
Fix the issues in the secondary: Colin Kaepernick isn’t likely to do what Arizona’s Carson Palmer did last weekend to Steven Terrell, the fill-in for injured three-time All-Pro Earl Thomas at free safety: Fool Terrell with his eyes to get him out of the middle of the field. The Cardinals got an 80-yard touchdown out of that, on a post route. But Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and most other quarterbacks Terrell and Seattle could potentially see in the playoffs sure will try that. Thomas’ absence showed up large last week for the first time since he broke his tibia Dec. 4. Playoff foes are going exploit. Terrell --- or potential replacements Jaron Johnson or Kelcie McCray – need to be sharper quickly.
The pick: If ever Seattle had a game in which the opponent doesn’t matter, it’s this one. The Seahawks get Rawls running and feel at least somewhat better about starting the playoffs – probably next week. Seahawks 21, 49ers 6.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
34 Thomas Rawls RB 5-9 215 second
Seahawks won’t go far in playoffs if he doesn’t get going, starting now
15 Jermaine Kearse WR 6-1 209 fifth
Back to No. 2 with Lockett out for year, weeks after demotion. Wilson still trusts him in key spots
23 Steven Terrell FS 5-10 197 315 fourth
AZ’s Palmer exposed him with eye tricks last wk. Will Earl Thomas absence end up being lethal?
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
7 Colin Kaepernick QB 6-4 230 sixth
11th straight start. Missed 1st mtg, SEA’s blowout win in September. Could be his last SF game
32 DuJuan Harris RB 5-8 203 third
A Seahawk for a month last season, he’s injured Carlos Hyde’s replacement as lead runner
55 Ahmad Brooks LB 6-3 259 11th
Veteran has six sacks in his last five games against Russell Wilson