NFL: 49ers-Seahawks preview

The Examiner breaks down the 49ers-Seahawks game, including what it will take to win, the matchups, a word about the coaches, our humble predictions and broadcast information.

THREE KEYS TO A VICTORY

1. One has to wonder what would make a team trade its top receiver to a division rival. Whatever the reason was, Darrell Jackson wasn’t all too pleased about it. And he’s out to prove that the Seahawks made a terrible mistake. It would help if Jackson showed that playmaking ability anyway as the Niners have the second-worst offense in the league. The good news is, the Seahawks have the third-worst pass defense. And with Vernon Davis out, Jackson must help spread the offense and give Alex Smith the confidence to throw the ball his way. There should also be an improvement in kick and punt returns as veteran Michael Lewis (the receiver) replaces Brandon Williams, who was released.

2. Niners running back Frank Gore was held to just 39 yards on Sunday against the Steelers. But you can hardly blame him after all that he’s been through. Nevertheless, as Gore goes, so goes the offense. And if the Niners want to move the ball effectively, the offensive line will have to create holes for Gore. That will also allow the passing game to flow efficiently.

3. Rookie linebacker Patrick Willis has been everything the Niners hoped he would be. He’s tied for fifth in the league in total tackles (26). Willis should have his hands full this week with Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander wandering about.

KEY MATCHUPS

JULIAN PETERSON VS. DELANIE WALKER

Peterson: Pro Bowl LB loves playing his former team. Will make it tough for Smith to pass and scramble.

Walker: New starting tight end had a decent preseason and could be a surprise if he scores.

MATT HASSELBECK VS. AUBRAVO FRANKLIN

Hasselbeck: Quarterback has been able to get it done despite not having the targets he needs.

Franklin: Nose tackle must plug holes and find a way to get to Hasselbeck. Only has seven tackles.

SHAUN ALEXANDER VS. TULLY BANTA-CAIN

Alexander: Ailing running back has cracked wrist. But he’s going to play and he can still be dangerous.

Banta-Cain: With Manny Lawson gone, outside linebacker needs to find a way to get to ballcarrier sooner.

COACHES' CORNER

Despite suffering his first loss last week, Niners coach Mike Nolan should be feeling good about his chances on Sunday. His Niners swept the Seahawks last season and knows they’re vulnerable right now.

Coach Mike Holmgren and the Seahawks have a chance to set the tone early in the NFC West. After Sunday, Seattle plays Pittsburgh, New Orleans and St. Louis. After a bye in Week 8, they play Cleveland.

THE EXAMINER PREDICTS …

The Niners are sputtering on offense. And Davis’ injury doesn’t help. Luckily, the defense has been holding up and should be enough to shut down an ailing Alexander and the Seahawks’ offense. They’ll wish Jackson was on their side this week. 49ERS 20, SEAHAWKS 17

Seahawks at 49ers

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: KTVU (Ch. 2)

Radio: KTCT (1050 AM)

NFLSan Francisco 49erssports

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