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Wednesday in Hawkville: Seahawks preparing for tough matchup with 49ers defense

Posted Dec 4, 2013

The last two times the Seahawks have played at Candlestick Park, the 49ers have limited their offensive output to more field goals (three) than touchdowns (two) and an average of 235 yards.

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 4, when the players returned from their “off” day to begin practicing for Sunday’s game against the 49ers in San Francisco:

WORD OF THE DAY: DEEE-FENSE

Not the Seahawks’ No. 1-ranked defense, but the San Francisco 49ers’ fifth-ranked defense that the Seahawks will face in Sunday’s game at Candlestick Park.

The last two times the Seahawks have played in the venerable venue by the Bay, they were held to a pair of Steven Hauschka field goals and 251 yards last October and 17 points and 219 yards in their 2011 season opener. The last two times the teams have played at CenturyLink Field, the Seahawks have won 29-3 in Week 2 this season and 42-13 in Week 16 last season.

What is it about the 49ers’ defense that makes it so tough on the Seahawks in the Bay Area? The scheme? Or the players who are executing it?

“I think it’s both,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after practice, which was held in the indoor practice facility. “First of all, they’re very well coached. Vic (Fangio, the coordinator) does a great job with the defense and the scheme. Then, they have really good players all across the board.”

Bevell then flipped through a list that started with outside linebackers Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks before moving on to inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. He finally got to lineman Justin Smith, who plays end and tackle, only to crack a smile and add, “And I haven’t even talked about the secondary.”

That’s where the Pro Bowl duo of cornerback Carlos Rogers and strong safety Donte Whitner roam, as well as rookie free safety Eric Reed, who has stepped in for departed Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson.

“They’re really stacked in terms of their ability and what he asks them to do,” Bevell said. “He doesn’t ever put them in bad situations. They play their technique. They play the defense and the scheme very well. They’re very sound.”

It’s a defense that started slowly at the Stick this season, yielding 28 points in beating the Packers in the home opener and then 27 to the Colts in a Week 3 loss. But it’s a defense that looked more like the 49ers’ unit everyone has come to expect in holding the Texans to three points, Cardinals to 20, Panthers to 10 and Rams to 13 in their past four home games.

And it’s that defense the Seahawks are preparing to face.

“It’s going to be a tough, physical game,” Bevell said. “That’s the way they are. They’re a physical front. So it’s going to be a hard-fought, tough game. We have a lot of respect for the players they have.”

INJURY REPORT: BRANDON BROWNER GETS LIMITED WORK

The official report, as issued by the team:

STAT DU JOUR: RUSSELL ON A RECORD ROLL

Russell Wilson’s three-TD passing performance against the Saints was his sixth consecutive game with multiple touchdown passes, the longest streak in franchise history. Here’s a look at the top runs:

Player (season) Streak TD passes
Russell Wilson (2013)  6 14
Russell Wilson (2012) 5 11
Matt Hasselbeck (2007)  5 10
Jon Kitna (1999)  5 11
Dave Krieg (1984) 5 12

Did not practice
WR Percy Harvin (hip)
LB Bruce Irvin (thigh)
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related)
WR Golden Tate (hip)

Limited in practice
CB Brandon Browner (groin)

Full participation
TE Kellen Davis (neck)

Coach Pete Carroll provided updates on the injured players during his midday Q&A session with the media and Tony Drovetto has the details.

For the 49ers:
Did not practice
OG Mike Iupati (knee)
TE Vance McDonald (ankle)
DT Justin Smith (shoulder)
OT Joe Staley (knee)

YOU DON'T SAY

49ERS EDITION

“It might be the most intense game this season, because those guys don't like us, and we don't like them.”

49ers tight end Vernon Davis

SEAHAWKS EDITION

“I don’t know if he surprises me as much as just kind of thrills you.”

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll when asked if QB Russell Wilson still does things that surprise him

Limited in practice
WR Josh Baldwin (calf)
CB Tarell Brown (ribs)
RB Frank Gore (ankle)
WR Mario Manningham (knee)
DT Ray McDonald (ankle)
LB Dan Skuta (foot)

Full participation
LB NaVorro Bowman (wrist)
TE Garrett Celek (hamstring)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)

Iupati has missed the past two games and Staley went out during Sunday’s game against the Rams. But coach Jim Harbaugh said during a conference-call interview that he has yet to rule out either of his Pro Bowl linemen for this week.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: RUSSELL WILSON

A 139.6 passing rating, which was the second-highest of his career. Three touchdown passes, which was his sixth consecutive game with multiple scoring throws. A 310-yard passing performance, just his second in 28 regular-season starts.

That’s what the Seahawks’ second-year QB did in Monday night’s 34-7 romp over the Saints, and the sum of his impressive numbers turned out to be the NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor.

Asked what has stood out about Wilson, Bevell offered, “I think the thing that stands out the most is his consistency. How consistent he is for us – helping us to get into the right situations, the decisions that he makes, the plays that he makes.

“Just his consistency of his play of what we can expect from him. The mental part of the game, just everything, and how consistent he is at it.”

Wilson also was honored in Week 13 last season, making him and Hall of Famer Warren Moon the only Seahawks QBs to be named Player of the Week in their first two seasons with the team.

Cornerback Richard Sherman (Week 2), kicker Steven Hauschka (Week 4) and punt returner Golden Tate (Week 9) also have been honored this season.

PRO BOWL LEADERS: MARSHAWN LYNCH, WILSON IN TOP 10

The latest fan-vote totals for the Pro Bowl are out, and the Seahawks’ Beast Mode back and second-year QB are in – the Top 10 in total votes, that is.

Lynch has moved into the third spot overall with 643,363 votes, while Wilson has cracked the Top 10 with 481,872. Cornerback Richard Sherman (367,076), free safety Earl Thomas (277,483), center Matt Unger (166,912) and strong safety Kam Chancellor (135,180) remain the top vote-getters at their positions. Steven Hauschka is second among the kickers (118,730) to the Patriots’ Stephen Gostowski (150,820).

The only players with more votes than Lynch are a pair of quarterbacks – the Broncos’ Peyton Manning (926,432) and Saints’ Drew Brees (793,685).

MUST-SEE TV: SEAHAWKS DRAW A SAINTLY SHARE

The Seahawks’ game against the Saints on “Monday Night Football” drew a cumulative 71 share and 47.1 percent of households on ESPN (32, 21.3) and KONG (39, 25.8).

UP NEXT: “TURNOVER THURSDAY”

But then every day is “all about the ball” in Hawkville. Thursday’s practice just carries the title that has been the theme since Carroll arrived in 2010.

This season, it’s more than a title or a theme. It’s a reality. The Seahawks lead the NFL in takeaways (27), are tied for the lead in fewest interceptions thrown (six) and tied for second in interceptions (16), fumbles recovered (11) and turnover differential (plus-12).