GAME: San Francisco 49ers (1-0, T1, NFC West) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0, T1, NFC West). TYPE. Regular season. WEEK: 2. WHEN: Sunday, 5:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 29th (series tied 14-14). STREAKS: 49ers W 1; Seahawks W 1. HEAD COACHES: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Seahawks by 3. TV: NBC. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
No one has any idea what will happen Sunday night when the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field in the most anticipated Week 2 match-up in years. But that hasn’t stopped the experts from making predictions or offering keys to the game.
As far as CBS Sports is concerned, the Seahawks already have this one wrapped up. All eight of its experts opine that Seattle will come out on top. USA Today isn’t as sure. Three of its experts picked Seattle, three others San Francisco. ESPN asked 13 of its swamis to weigh in. Seven went with San Francisco to score an upset on the road. NFL.com also likes the 49ers by a score of 23-20.
Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest is going with the Seahawks, with the score 24-17.
Prognosticators are all over the map on the game’s keys. For some, it’s which quarterback, Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick, delivers the better performance. For others, it will come down to Marshawn Lynch vs. Frank Gore.
Many think the key is Anquan Boldin vs. Richard Sherman and the “Legion of Boom” (Sherman has seven INTs in his last seven NFC West games). One expert suggested the best “game within the game” will be the matchup of Seattle left tackle Russell Okung and San Francisco DE Aldon Smith, the NFL sack leader.
Beyond debate is that Seahawks vs. 49ers has become one of the best feuds in the NFL. The 49ers represented the NFC in Super Bowl XLVII last season only weeks after suffering a 42-13 thrashing by Seattle at The Clink, where the Seahawks haven’t lost since Christmas Eve — in 2011 — when San Francisco beat them 19-17.
Following a six-game Seattle winning streak from 2003-05, San Francisco has won eight of the last 14, five of the last eight and four of the last five. But the Seahawks went 8-0 last season at The Clink, which has never been louder than it will be Sunday.
Since both teams were built to run first, the success of each club’s ground game will likely determine which takes the first significant step toward an NFC West title.
No way to tell how it will play out Sunday, but Gore has rushed for 1,210 career yards against Seattle, his most against any team. Gore rolled for 131 yards in first Seattle-San Francisco matchup last season (13-6 49ers win), but was held to 28 on six carries in the second.
In their past 53 contests, the 49ers have allowed a 100-yard rusher five times and Lynch was responsible for three. Since Jim Harbaugh became head coach, the Seahawks have averaged 125 yards rushing in four meetings with the 49ers. All other opponents have averaged 62.3.
Lynch, though, managed a mere 43 yards last week against Carolina, prompting coach Pete Carroll to emphasize the importance of Lynch returning to form.
“It’s important for our overall play and the formula that we want to perform,” Carroll said. “We want our defense and special teams humming and we want to run the ball. Running the football helps us in every way, and I’ve said that it closes the circle on the style of play that we have.
“We want to be tough and physical and make sure that that’s present every game week, and that we go after it. So its hugely important this week. Somehow we made it through last week without running the football very well. You can count on that.”
The Seahawks still have injury concerns. Cornerback Brandon Browner sat out practice all week with a hamstring injury and is listed as doubtful, but Carroll said Browner will be re-evaluated before the game. DE Cliff Avril (hamstring) practiced two days last week and will play. DE Chris Clemons is questionable. DT Jordan Hill and S Jeron Johnson are likely out.
Saturday, the Seahawks added to their defensive-line depth by re-signing Clinton McDonald, who was cut Aug. 31, and cut tackle Mike Person. McDonald played 29 games for the Seahawks.
“We we’re really pumped about the first chance to play at home,” said Carroll. “We’d like to pick up where we left off last year. That means that everyone has got to be on it in all phases. This is a great team we’re playing. We are going to have to play really good football to get what we want done.”
SERIES: Dates to Sept. 26, 1976, when the Seahawks dropped a 37-21 decision at the Kingdome. Jim Zorn threw for 264 yards and a touchdown for Seattle and Jim Plunkett tossed for 239 and three TDs for the Niners. The Seahawks have lost four of the past five meetings, but won the last won 42-13 at CenturyLink Field Dec. 23, 2012. Russell Wilson threw a career-high four TD passes, Marshawn Lynch scored twice and Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards to a TD. Colin Kaepernick threw for 244 yards with one TD and one INT for the 49ers.
Seahawks: 1-0-0. T1, NFC West; scored 12 points (12.0 per game), ranking 24th; allowed 7 points (7.0 per game), 2nd; differential of +5 points ranks 8th. 49ers: 1-0-0, T1, NFC West; scored 34points (34.0), ranked 3rd; allowed 28 (28.0), 22nd; differential of +6 points ranks 6th.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (59-54 career, 26-23 Seattle) is in his fourth season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Russell Wilson vs Carolina, 25 of 33, 320 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 115.7 passer rating.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
- REGULAR SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 1-0-0. Home: 0-0. Road: 1-0. Vs. NFC: 1-0. Vs. AFC: 0-0. Vs. NFC East: 0-0. Vs. NFC North: 0-0. Vs. NFC South: 1-0. Vs. NFC West: 0-0. Points For: 12 (12.0). Points Against: 7 (7.0).
- NFL RANKS: Scoring Offense –12.0 (24th); Total Offense — 370.0 (11th); Rushing Offense — 70.0 (18th); Passing Offense — 300.0 (9th); Scoring Defense — 7.0 (2nd); Total Defense — 253.0 (5th); Rushing Defense — 134.0 (25th); Passing Defense — 119.0 (3rd).
- Seahawks have won nine of their past 10 home openers, the lone loss coming to San Francisco in 2008.
- Seahawks have a 37-26 prime-record record and a 17-11 mark on Sunday nights. Seahawks are 4-4 on NBC, last appearing on Sunday Night when they defeated the 49ers 42-13 Dec. 12, 2013.
SEAHAWKS 2012 OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS 2012 DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Thomas 10, Wagner 8, Chancellor 6|
|Quarterback Hits||Schofield 1|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 1|
|Forced Fumbles||Thomas, Maxwell, both 1|
|Fumbles Recovered||McDaniel 1|
49ERS NOTES: 49ers opened at home by defeating the Green Bay Packers 34-28. The 49ers rolled up 494 yards, second-highest total in the NFL in Week 1 . . . Frank Gore leads the Niners in rushing with 44 yards . . . Anquan Boldin had 13 catches for 208 yards against the Packers . . . Jim Harbaugh is in his third year as head coach of the 49ers, and is 25-8.
49ERS QUARTERBACKS: Colin Kaepernick completed 27 of 39 passes for 412 yards, three TDs, no interceptions and a 129.4 passer rating in San Francisco’s Week 1 34-28 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
2013-14 KEY DATES: Oct. 27 — Trade deadline; Jan. 4-5, 2014 — Wild-card playoff games; Jan. 11-12 — Divisional playoff games; Jan. 19, 2014 — AFC and NFC Championship games; Jan. 26, 2014 — AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, Honolulu; Feb. 2, 2014 — Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium, New York; Feb. 18-25, 2012 — Scouting combine, Indianapolis; March 11, 2014 — Free agency begins; May 8-10, 2014 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|S. Francisco||1-0-0||0-0-0||Sunday at Seattle|
|Seattle||1-0-0||0-0-0||Sunday vs. San Francisco|
|St. Louis||1-0-0||1-0-0||Sunday at Atlanta|
|Arizona||0-1-0||0-1-0||Sunday vs. Detroit|
2013 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/8/13||at San Diego||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||31-10||1-0|
|8/17/13||vs. Denver||7 p.m.||NFLN||W||40-10||2-0|
|8/23/13||at Green Bay||5 p.m.||CBS||W||17-10||3-0|
|8/29/13||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Fox||W||22-6||4-0|
2013 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/8/13||at Carolina||10 a.m.||FOX||W||12-7||1-0|
|9/15/13||vs. SF||5:30 p.m.||NBC||—||——||—|
|9/22/13||vs. JAX||1:25 p.m.||CBS||—||——||—|
|9/29/13||at Texans||10 a.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|10/6/13||at Indy||10 a.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|10/13/13||vs. Tenn||1:05 p.m.||CBS||—||——||—|
|10/17/13||at Arizona||5:25 p.m.||NFLN||—||——||—|
|10/28/12||at StL||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||—||——||—|
|11/3/13||vs. Tampa||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|11/10/13||at Atlanta||10 a.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|11/17/13||vs. Minn||1:25 p.m.||FOX||—||—–||—|
|12/2/13||VS. NO||5:40 p.m.||ESPN||—||——||—|
|12/9/12||at SF||1:25 p.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|12/15/13||at NYG||10 a.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|12/22/13||vs. Ariz||1:05 p.m.||FOX||—||——||—|
|12/29/13||vs. STL||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W||——||—|