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Second Time up with Seattle


When the 49ers beat Seattle 33-30 in overtime in week two of the 2008 season, the Seahawks were without a number of key contributors, including their starting running back and five of their wide receivers. Things were so bad, Seattle had to sign two receivers off the street prior to the matchup.

As the two teams prepare to meet for the second time in eight weeks this Sunday at Candlestick Park, a struggling Seattle team might be without the main man who makes their offense go. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck could be out of action for the third consecutive week with an injured knee and a bulging disc in his back.

At his Monday press conference, Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren discussed his quarterback situation.

"The last medical report is that he's feeling better each day," Holmgren said. "But they have this measuring stick though, before they will allow him to play, that's my understanding. And until he reaches that, then he probably won't play."

Holmgren told the Seattle media that if Hasselbeck was unavailable Sunday, that he would choose from either backup Seneca Wallace or third-stringer, Charlie Frye.

Wallace, who also missed the first meeting between the two after sustaining an injury as a wide receiver during warm-ups, will look to rebound after his poor performance last Sunday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, if he's given another start.

Wallace completed 12 of his 23 passes for only 73 yards and a passer rating of 8.3. He threw one touchdown and one interception. During their 18 minutes and 19 seconds of possession, the Seahawks totaled only 10 points.

"We didn't sustain things enough for him to get into a rhythm," Holmgren said after the game. "We're just struggling right now on offense. It's just hard."

With Hasselbeck, Frye and Wallace each getting a start in the last three games, the Seahawks have been outscored 91-33. Seattle is 1-5 on the season, with their only win coming on a 37-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams during week three.

The once potent Holmgren offense is now averaging only 258.3 yards per game, and ranks as one of the worst in the NFL.

The 49ers defense cleared up some of their own woes against the Giants last week, by holding Brandon Jacobs to under 100 yards in the game, stopping the Giants on 10 of 14 third down attempts, and holding the Giants number one ranked offense to 27 points, despite defending a few short fields.

The 49ers would like to continue to improve upon their defensive output, but will have to stop a Seattle offense, who scored 30 points in their first meeting.

Although the Hawks could be without Hasselbeck, several of their other skill position players are back in action as the Seahawks are no longer in need of those off-the-street signed receivers.

Wide receiver Bobby Engram is back after missing the first three games of the regular season with a cracked bone in his right shoulder, and has nine receptions for 69 yards on the season. His nine catches already lead the receiving corps for the most receptions.

Deion Branch returned from his knee injury briefly before suffering a heel injury. In his absence, Seattle signed back their former first round pick in veteran Koren Robinson, and also traded an undisclosed 2009 late draft pick to the Denver Broncos for wide receiver Keary Colbert. So far this year, Robinson has caught four passes for 46 yards and Colbert has caught five passes for 41 yards.

The Seahawks leading receiver is rookie tight end John Carlson, who has 19 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the team in catches, yards and touchdowns. Against the 49ers, Carlson experienced a breakout game, catching six passes for 78 yards.

Running back Maurice Morris will be back in the lineup this time around, but is listed as the third running back on Seattle's depth chart behind Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett. So far this season, Morris only has 103 yards on 16 carries and no touchdowns.

Jones, the current starter, wouldn't mind getting 26 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown like he did the last time Seattle played the 49ers, but he will likely share time with Morris like he did in their last game against Tampa Bay. Jones leads the Seahawks, totaling 459 yards on 97 carries. He averages 4.7 yards per carry.

The 49ers should also be aware of Duckett, the Seahawks short yardage running back, who has totaled 104 yards on 28 carries. The powerful running back leads Seattle with three rushing touchdowns, including a one-yard plunge against the 49ers.

Starting right tackle Sean Locklear missed the first matchup against the 49ers, but he's back on an offensive line that features perennial Pro Bowler Walter Jones. The unit has allowed only 12 sacks on the season, and are credited in large for the Seahawks third-highest 4.9 average yards per carry.

As for Seattle's defense, they've taken a step back this season, allowing 363.5 yards per game, with most of their troubles coming in defending the pass.

Despite having Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant and veteran safety Deon Grant as part of their back end, Seattle has been victimized with the deep ball over the past three weeks. Trufant, who notched a career-high seven picks last year, has yet to make an interception. Only Grant has picked off an opposing quarterback.

But Coach Holmgren stuck up for the play of his cornerbacks during his Monday visit with the media.

"We have young guys playing in the secondary. You kind of know they're going to take their hits and their licks," he said. "We don't have a lot of choices. There are not a lot of corners floating around."

Seattle also possesses a pair of Pro Bowlers in Patrick Kerney and former 49ers linebacker Julian Peterson, who are infamous for their pass rush ability, but their numbers are down this year too. Kearney has four on the season, while Peterson has three. The unit ranks tied for 13th in total sacks with 14 on the year. Eight of those sacks cane at the expense of the 49ers in their first meeting.

The Seahawks only allowed 52 rushing yards on 23 carries to Earnest Graham of the Buccaneers last week, and on the season, have been stingy when it comes to stopping the run. Seattle has allowed 121.3 rushing yards per game, but only 3.9 per attempt.

Pro Bowl Lofa Tatupu is second on the team in tackles with 39, behind fellow linebacker Leroy Hill and his 47 tackles. Tatupu suffered a concussion against the Buccaneers, but according to Holmgren, "Should be fine this week."

Other names to know on the Seattle defense are rookie first round draft pick Lawrence Jackson of USC and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard. Jackson has shown he can rush the passer already, totaling two sacks, while Bernard has been tough against the run with 19 tackles.

While they've struggled on offense and defense, Seattle's special teams rebounded from an extremely poor start in week one against the Bills and have become a strength of the team.

Veteran kicker Olindo Mare has connected on 11 of 12 field goal attempts with a long from 51-yards out.

Seattle's other specialist, punter Jon Ryan, who was signed prior to the first meeting between the two teams, has averaged 45.5 yards on his 24 punts.

Without the services of Nate Burleson, who was lost to injury just prior to the game with the 49ers, the Seahawks began relying on Josh Wilson and Michael Bumpus to do most of the kick and punt return duties respectively. However, last week against Tampa, Seattle used undrafted rookie running back Justin Forsett of Cal as their punt and kickoff returner.

Both teams feel that it's imperative to notch a divisional win and bounce back from multiple-game losing streaks, but only one can walk away as victors. Catch the game at Candlestick or live on FOX, beginning at 1:15PM PST, to find out which team meets their goal.

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