It’s a Seahawks game day here in sunny, warm San Jose, where the 2-4 team is staying about 10 minutes from Levi’s Stadium for Thursday night’s chance to rebound at the 49ers (2-4). Coach Pete Carroll said he is “thrilled” to be playing so quickly after Sunday’s late loss to Carolina. And no wonder, as I explain in my game preview story in today’s News Tribune.
Here are the injury reports for both teams:
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This is the result of having a game four days after the last one. Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks basically preserved Wagner from playing in last week’s loss to Carolina to avoid the risk of him tearing his strained pectoral muscle and not being able to play for weeks if not months. That’s why he will start tonight. Lewis being out means Drew Nowak, who made his first five NFL starts there until last weekend, starts again by default. Veteran Lemuel Jeanpierre, re-signed Tuesday, is for now the backup.
Boldin might be trying to become the first 49ers receiver to have three consecutive 100-yard games since 1995 when Jerry Rice did that. Or he might not play. Hyde, San Francisco’s lead runner, is also banged up, so tonight the 49ers may be relying on quarterback Colin Kaepernick as much as they ever have.
He remains the key to this game for the Niners, as I discuss here in my keys to the game:
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (2-4) at SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (2-4)
Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California
TV: Channel 7, NFL Network Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
Live chat: www.thenewstribune/sports 4:45 p.m.
Line: Seahawks by 6.
The series: Seattle leads the regular-season series 17-15. It’s 15-11 Seahawks since they joined the 49ers in the NFC West in 2002. Seattle has won five of the last six meetings. That includes the NFC championship game at CenturyLink Field at the end of the Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl-championship season. San Francisco is 10-12 and has fired coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff since then.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Give him time to throw, for a change: The 49ers have the league’s worst-ranked pass defense and have just nine sacks in six games. But Seattle’s poor, porous offensive line has allowed Russell Wilson to be sacked a league-high 26 times. If the Seahawks can give Wilson even a little bit of a pocket to see Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett run complete patterns, there should be big plays available down the field. If not, Wilson will be picking all that ridiculously loose, Santa Clara sod out of his facemask – and the Seahawks offense will be missing a grand opportunity.
6 not 3: The Seahawks got Jimmy Graham at a hefty price to fix their red-zone problems of touchdowns on just 52 percent of their trips there last season. This season they’ve been twice as bad down there, last in the NFL at 26 percent red-zone TDs. It’s partly why they haven’t put teams away late. Against the soft 49ers’ pass defense, Seattle should have time to let receivers run into the end zone.
Talk to me: Not since before Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone have people had more trouble talking to each other than these Seahawks. "Miscommunication" has been the excuse for everything from blown coverage to bad pass protections to bad pregame meals. All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner’s return should fix some of last week’s problems on defense. Center Drew Nowak’s return to starting might add to those problems along the offensive line.
The pick: Seahawks 20-7. Even with Seattle’s late-game problems, this still should be a game that is over before that. The Seahawks will overwhelm the 49ers on offense and do just enough with their own offense to keep alive hopes of a season rebound.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
54 Bobby Wagner LB 6-0 241 fourth
His return to the middle of defense should get everyone playing the same coverage. Hey, it’s a start
29 Earl Thomas FS 5-10 202 sixth
He was not a happy Seahawk after last week’s last-play fiasco. Vows they are better than this.
62 Drew Nowak C 6-3 292 fourth
Back starting because Patrick Lewis is hurt. Communication’s been his problem. Needs to fix it pronto.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
7 Colin Kaepernick QB 6-5 230 fifth
1-4 and has looked skittish, almost spooked last two games against SEA. Is he different now?
53 Navarro Bowman ILB 6-0 242 sixth
Missed last two meetings because of knee injury. Carroll says looks as good as before.
82 Torrey Smith WR 6-1 205 fifth
New addition gives 49ers deep threat they’ve lacked recently vs. SEA. Will test secondary.