Former 49ers linebacker and KNBR color commentator Gary Plummer previews the 49ers opponents every week of the 2009 season on 49ers.com. For this week's "Points of the Game" column, Plummer breaks down the 49ers week two opponent – the Seattle Seahawks.**
The 49ers open their home season this week and they don't call it home field advantage for nothing.
Shaun Hill has not been a long-time starter, but he is undefeated at home with a 5-0 record. Being a new starter it is always going to be tougher on the road and there is a certain level of comfort that comes with playing at home.
We saw the hostile environment of the road effect the entire offense not just Hill, last week in Arizona. But the 49ers don't have to deal with that this week. This week the snap count isn't going to be an issue. Audibles aren't going to be an issue. There is constant communication between the linemen about who to block and that stuff is tough to get when you're going against that kind of crowd noise. It all goes hand-in-hand. The quarterback gets the blame, but the truth is everyone is affected with crowd noise.
I'm sure that's why Hill has played better at home.
A key for 49ers in this game will be stopping the connection between Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and his tight end John Carlson. That was a major connection dating back to all of last year. Seattle they lost three of their four top receivers early on last season and Carlson was shredding the 49ers defense in their first meeting.
Once you get comfortable throwing to a big target like Carlson, you are going to keep going back to it. It's the same philosophy the 49ers used against the Cardinals. There are a lot of timing routes in a west coast offense. Kurt Warner operates with timing and the best way to combat that is to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage. When you have a big target like Carlson, it is going to take him a while to get up to full speed. The best way to avoid that is to try your best to keep him at the line of scrimmage. That will throw the timing of all his routes off.
One of the things you notice about tight ends early in the season is that they are kind of a comfort zone for the quarterbacks. Quarterbacks have been facing vanilla defenses all preseason, then coordinators start throwing everything at you. With tight ends, you're usually only dealing with an underneath cover man. When you're throwing the ball downfield to a receiver, you're going through a couple of layers in the defense. It's easier to attack that first layer of the defense and that's why I think that tight ends are effective early on the in the year.
On defense, Seattle's top draft pick Aaron Curry has been a starter from day one for them. And that's always impressive for a rookie. He has great athletic ability and excellent speed. He closes to the quarterback really well. He's got a lot of urgency and punch. He's good enough to rush the passer, drop into coverage, or play the run. He's a very versatile guy.
This game is really about controlling the front seven for Seattle, because that is the strength of their defense. Their d-line is very active and they rotate almost ten guys in there. It's amazing. They're going to keep running guys at you. One of the things you would like to do with a team like that is a very soft quick huddle, or a no huddle situation. That's one way to combat teams that try to rotate eight to ten defensive linemen. Marcus Trufant is on their PUP. That hurts them because he was their best defensive back. They brought in Lawyer Milloy, but they didn't do so until after camp. He's one of those guys who's smart and tough, but maybe lacks the speed now. That might be a good matchup for Vernon Davis.