Gregg Bell pregame in Santa Clara, what to watch for in Seahawks at 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. The Seahawks arrived here for their latest NFC West game with yet another injury in a defensive secondary that can afford no more.
The team added Jeremy Lane to its injury report on Saturday. Scheduled to start at left cornerback for the second straight game since Richard Sherman ruptured his Achilles tendon Nov. 9 at Arizona and went on injured reserve, Lane is questionable to play today at the San Francisco 49ers because of a new knee injury.
The unusual step of adding a player who had missed practice Wednesday with a designation the Seahawks called “not injury related” to the injury report the day before the game hinted Lane may not play. If he doesn’t, Justin Coleman likely would, with Byron Maxwell at right cornerback replacing rookie Shaquill Griffin. Griffin in out after getting a concussion six days earlier in the home loss to Atlanta.
Coleman is a better cover man than special-teams mainstay Neiko Thorpe, another option if Lane can’t go. On passing downs when Seattle goes to nickel, five defensive backs, Coleman could go to his usual nickel spot and Thorpe could enter than outside at left cornerback. The Seahawks figure to go less nickel than in other games because of the 49ers’ reliance on the running of Carlos Hyde to help rookie quarterback C.J. Beathard and what’s been a porous offensive line. The Seahawks were in nickel defense 41 percent of the time against San Francisco in September when Seattle beat the 49ers 12-9.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-4) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (1-9)
Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Line: Seahawks by 6½.
TV: Ch. 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
The series: The Seahawks lead the series 23-15 and have won eight straight. That includes the NFC championship game in January 2014 Seattle won to advance to Super Bowl 48. San Francisco has scored more than seven points just once in its last three home games against its division rival: the finale to last regular season, the Seahawks’ 25-23 win on New Year’s Day. The Niners’ last win over Seattle was on Dec. 8, 2013, 19-17 at Candlestick Park. Phil Dawson kicked a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Block Reuben Foster: The dynamic rookie linebacker from Alabama was injured the first time these teams played. He’s been as advertised in his first two games, with 24 tackles in his last two games. He has the speed outside to be a shadow of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has been Seattle’s everything on offense. The Seahawks haven’t faced a linebacker yet this season who has corralled Wilson on scrambles. If Foster, the 31st-overall pick this spring, can do that even a little bit the Seahawks’ offense changes.
Lean left: The Seahawks finally have the left side of the line they’ve been waiting for since they traded for left tackle Duane Brown last month. Luke Joeckel returns from five games out following knee surgery to team with Brown to give Seattle more experience than it’s had in years on one side of the line. The Seahawks are just 26th in the NFL running behind left guard and 22nd in the league running around left end. If Wilson and the running backs keep going left, you’ll know why.
Start fast. For once: The 49ers are building belief. They are coming off their first win with a rookie quarterback who is gaining confidence, including from his team not replacing him already with Jimmy Garoppolo since San Francisco traded last month for Tom Brady’s former backup. The Seahawks have scored just 39 of their 242 points this season in the first quarter, and have been outscored 106-94 in the first half. Changing that would help keep a big home underdog down.
The pick: Seahawks, 20-10. This is likely to be the slog the weather and the matchup suggest it should be. Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner and Seattle gets after Beathard more decisively than Foster and the Niners affect Wilson.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
3 Russell Wilson QB 5-11 215 sixth
NFL-high 86% of his team’s yards this season. 96% last week against Atlanta. Remains the absolute everything for the offense.
20 Jeremy Lane CB 6-0 190 sixth
Even 49ers rookie QB Beathard knows Atlanta’s Matt Ryan exploited Lane outside last week in his first game replacing Richard Sherman.
78 Luke Joeckel LG 6-6 307 fifth
Back from knee surgery, it’s high time he start showing why Seattle gave him $7M guaranteed for this season.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
56 Reuben Foster LB 6-1 228 rookie
31st-overall pick was hurt last time these teams played. Double-digit tackles last two games. Can he run down Russell Wilson?
28 Carlos Hyde RB 6-0 235 fourth
SF’s leading rusher, receiver and reducer of a rookie quarterback’s burden. 15 rushes, season-high 124 yards with 61-yard breakaway at SEA in September.
3 C.J. Beathard QB 6-2 215 rookie
Got first win of his career in SF’s last game, over NYG. Finally didn’t get sacked and beaten up. Holding off Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter—for now.