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San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks should at least increase program sales at Qwest Field for fans looking to figure out who’s who, given 27 of the 53 players on the roster are new this season and only nine of 22 starters were in the lineup for last year’s opener.

The roster churn has been so rapid — seven new players were added in the last week alone — that even coach Pete Carroll referred to left tackle Tyler Polumbus as Troy Polumbus four times during his Wednesday press conference. But Carroll insists all the turnover was necessary, and its hard to argue coming off 4–12 and 5–11 seasons.

Carroll himself makes his NFL return after a decade of dominance at USC and it’ll be interesting to see how ready he and his team are to face a 49ers team looking to establish itself as the rising force in the NFC West.

Sunday’s opener provides an early benchmark of how prepared the revamped Seahawks are to compete — and whether the 49ers’ increased expectations are warranted as they seek their first playoff appearance since 2002.

Keys for the Seahawks
• With T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s release, the Seahawks are putting a lot of faith in Mike Williams’ comeback and Deion Branch’s health. It’ll be interesting to see if those two vets and youngsters Golden Tate and Deon Butler back up Carroll’s conviction that Houshmandzadeh wasn’t a good fit.
• The Seahawks’ running game was woeful in preseason behind a rebuilt line that now likely will have young Tyler Polumbus playing left tackle just a week after being acquired by trade. Justin Forsett gets the start at running back and will need to make the most out of whatever lanes he can find.

Keys for the 49ers
• A pair of first-round rookies — Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati — make their debuts in a tough environment at Qwest Field where crowd noise can be an issue. With center Eric Heitmann out with a broken leg, the 49ers line has some question marks. Then again, Seattle’s homefield edge has diminished a bit with the Seahawks just 6–10 at home the past two years.
• Running back Frank Gore averaged 124 yards rushing in his
previous seven games against Seattle until he got just nine carries for 25 yards in their last meeting in ‘09. If Gore gets going, it’ll make
things a lot easier for QB Alex Smith and his passing game.

Bottom Line
While the Seahawks are just introducing themselves to each other following massive training camp turnover, the 49ers are finally gaining some continuity in Mike Singletary’ s third season. The Seahawks will be limited offensively by having to protect a young left tackle, which means they’ll keep things conservative and try to win a low-scoring affair. Both teams have question marks on the offensive line, but the Niners will be more able to take advantage with their talented defensive front. 49ers 21–17.


Week 1
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