The last time the Seahawks and 49ers played, Jadeveon Clowney was arguably the best player on the field as he helped lead Seattle to a Week 10 victory.
Clowney had a sack that forced a fumble to cause one of Seattle's three takeaways in that game, he returned a fumble 10 yards for a touchdown, and he recorded five quarterback hits to help set the tone in what was one of Seattle's best defensive performances of the season. But in addition to playing his best game of the season against the 49ers and earning NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, Clowney also sustained a core-muscle injury that night that has been an issue ever since. Clowney missed Seattle's next game, returned to play in the next two games, but has missed the last two games due both to the flu and to his injury.
But with the 49ers coming to town with NFC West title on the line on Sunday Clowney has zero intention missing a third straight game.
"There's no way I'm not playing," Clowney said Thursday. "I'm playing… I know the team needs me this week, and I need be out there with them and do what I can do to help this team win against the 49ers this week, no matter what it is. So far, it's been a great week of preparation getting ready for this team, and I've been able to be out there and prepare, get it going. It starts in practice, and if I can take it from there to the field, I'll be all right."
Of course, no player can guarantee anything in regards to his availability three days before a game with 100 percent certainty, especially one dealing with an injury, but both Clowney and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expect that, barring something unforeseen over the next few days, Clowney will be back on the field trying to once again wreak havoc on San Francisco's offense.
In addition to Clowney's definitive statement on Thursday, Carroll said Monday on 710 ESPN, "I don't think there's any question he's going to play."
While Clowney hated to miss multiple games, he said the time off helped his injury improve.
"For sure," he said. "I'm in a way better place… This week, I came in a lot better than I was the week before. I'm able to practice, and we'll see how it goes from here."
And, as Clowney notes, he's hardly alone in trying to battle through injuries late in an NFL season.
"Everybody plays through injuries, and I'm just trying be out there helping them as much as possible," he said. "It's a grind together. We're all in this together, and I just want to be out there with my teammates."