Good morning. Thunderstorms and rain are expected at CenturyLink for tonight’s big game between San Francisco and Seattle – perfect for this much-anticipated, heavyweight matchup.
So let’s get into it. Here are five keys for the Seahawks if they want to get off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2006. Seattle has won nine of its 10 home openers since 2003.
Pete Carroll’s teams also have played well in prim-time games. During his tenure in Seattle, the Seahawks have posted a 5-1 record in nationally televised games during the regular season.
First team to 100 rushing yards win: San Francisco dominated the line of scrimmage in the first matchup in 2012, running for a 175 yards in a 13-6 win over the Seahawks. In Seattle later in the year, the Seahawks ran for 176 yards in a 42-13 throttling of the 49ers late in the year. Both teams want to set the tone by running the ball and owning the line of scrimmage. The first team to establish the run likely wins this one.
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Don’t let Boldin and Davis beat you: Anquan Boldin finished with 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in his San Francisco debut. Vernon Davis was the second leading receiver last week, totaling six receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. The Seahawks will play more man and press coverage, which will be different from the zone looks Green Bay showed the 49ers last week. The Seahawks will try and take Boldin and Davis away, and make guys like Kyle Williams, Marlon Moore and Vance McDonald beat them.
Special teams must be special: The battle of hidden yardage, special teams, will be important today. Punter Jon Ryan has been impressive so far in helping Seattle control field position, with a 47-yard, net punting average against Carolina. And Golden Tate is giving the Seahawks a first down on punt returns every time he touches the ball. Coverage guys like Heath Farwell, Chris Maragos and Byron Maxwell need to make good, open-field tackles and stay penalty free so the Seahawks can control field position.
Take care of the football: It’s a given, but the team that wins the turnover battle has a good chance to win the game. Since 2010, the Seahawks are 18-3 when they win the turnover battle. Enough said.
Take some shots: The Seahawks need to test rookie safety Eric Reid and take some shots down the middle of the field. The LSU product played well against Green Bay. But if Seattle gets the ground game going, Reid could be susceptible to sucking up for the play action fake, giving Russell Wilson a chance to go over the top down the middle of the field. However offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell dials it up, the Seahawks need to create some chunk plays in the passing game to make it easier for Seattle’s offense to score against a talented San Francisco defense.
Dave Boling of The News Tribune breaks down the game here. He likes the Seahawks 24-21.
Here’s my story on Russell Wilson, who usually plays big in big games. Wilson has six, fourth-quarter comebacks in 19 career games as a pro.
Check out Doug Baldwin’s latest Fresh Files in the video below.
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com offers some matchup to watch here.
Jim Moore of 710 ESPN Seattle gives us 10 reasons why he’s picking the Seahawks to win today.
ESPN’s John Clayton writes that stopping Vernon Davis will be the key for Seattle.
Larry Stone of The Seattle Times writes that all eyes in the NFL will be on the heavyweight matchup between Seattle and San Francisco.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes that Jim Harbaugh has a chance to get birthday revenge. The Seahawks defeated San Francisco on Harbaugh’s birthday, Dec. 23, last year. Now Harbaugh has a chance to return the favor on Pete Carroll’s birthday, which is today.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayarea.com says the No. 1 matchup to watch is Russell Wilson against San Francisco rookie Eric Reid.
Longtime college football coach and Lakes High graduate Mike Dunbar passed on Saturday. He was 64 years old.