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Week 2: Seahawks vs. 49ers
When: Sunday, 5:30 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Records: Seahawks 1-0 after their 12-7 victory over the Panthers in Carolina; 49ers 1-0 after their 34-28 victory over the Packers in San Francisco
TV: NBC (KING/5 in Seattle), with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya
Radio: 710 AM ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Rest of the West: Rams (1-0) at Falcons; Lions at Cardinals (0-1)
Seahawks defense vs. 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick: The first task is trying to determine which Kaepernick they’ll see. The elusive runner who gashed the Green Bay Packers for 181 rushing yards in the playoffs in January? The precision passer who shredded the Packers for 412 yards in last week’s season opener? Or the tough-to-pinpoint player who will fall somewhere in between? That’s why this will be a Leo-end-to-free-safety, nose-tackle-to-strong-safety, cornerback-to-middle-linebacker task. But it’s not a task that is beyond the Seahawks. They limited Kaepernick to 31 rushing yards and a 19-of-36 passing performance at CenturyLink Field last December. It helped that they jumped out to 21-0 lead.
One to watch
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. 49ers ILBs Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman: Lynch had very little room to run last week against a Carolina Panthers’ front seven that is better than just about anyone gives them credit for. He had 43 rushing yards, but 14 came on his last carry. The other 16? He averaged 1.8 yards. There should be more room at the line against the 49ers’ 3-4 front, but that only means more run-ins with Willis and Bowman for Lynch. All they did last season was combine for 354 tackles – 183 by Bowman; 171 by Willis. All they did in their opener was pick up where they left off last season, as Bowman had 13 tackles and Willis eight. Lynch, meanwhile, has 100-yard efforts in his last three games against the 49ers. The Seahawks need more from Lynch and his blockers than they got against the Panthers, so winning his share of run-ins with Willis and Bowman is imperative.
Fun to watch
Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. 49ers WR Anquan Boldin: Containing Boldin, who had 13 catches for 208 yards in the 49ers’ season opener, won’t fall solely on Sherman. But when they are matched up it definitely will be worth watching, as the Seahawks’ All-Pro corner pits his length and athletic ability against Boldin’s bulk and strength. The problem with Boldin – or at least one of the problems – is that the 49ers will use him in the slot on either side, flanked or split him on either side and even send him in motion out of the backfield.
One tough task
Seahawks OTs Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini vs. 49ers OLBs/DEs Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks: When the 49ers go to their nickel package, expect to see the 6-foot-4, 265-pound Smith lined up wide of the 6-5, 310-pound Okung and the 6-3, 259-pound Brooks on the other side against the 6-7, 318-pound Giacomini. Smith had 19.5 sacks last season, 14 as a rookie in 2011 and 1.5 in last week’s opener. Brooks has 13.5 sacks the past two seasons. Okung and Giacomini have the obvious size advantage, but they’ll need quick feet and fast hands to battle Smith and Brooks in obvious passing situations.
The series is tied at 14 after the teams split last season’s home-and-home series. The Seahawks’ 42-13 win in Week 16 snapped the 49ers’ four-game winning streak. … Kaepernick (129.4) and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (115.7) are the top-ranked passers in the NFC and rank 2-4 in the NFL. Each is coming off their first 300-plus yard passing performance in a regular season game. … Boldin, who was traded to the 49ers by the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason, averaged seven catches for 98 yards in 10 games against the Seahawks while playing for the Arizona Cardinals. The last time they faced him was in 2011, when Boldin was with the Ravens, and he caught two passes for 22 yards despite being targeted nine times. … 49ers RB Frank Gore has run for 212 and 207 yards against the Seahawks, but those efforts came in 2006 and 2009. Last season, he had 131 in the Week 7 game in San Francisco and 28 in the Week 16 game in Seattle. … FS Earl Thomas leads the Seahawks with 10 tackles.