Countdown to kickoff

Season’s Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks are hosting the 49ers today in their home finale – and on Christmas Eve – with kickoff and coverage on Fox (channel 13 in Seattle) set for 1:15 p.m.

What’s left to say about this game that hasn’t already been said?

The best place to start is the playoff implications, because they’re there for both teams. Several times in the online chats during the three-game winning streak that has pulled the Seahawks to 7-7, people have asked: If the Seahawks win this game do they make the playoffs? The answer has been no, and it will remain no even if they’re able to upset the 49ers. Because the Seahawks have to win today and next week in Arizona against the also-surging Cardinals to even have a chance to advance to the postseason, and they still need some help. That’s because the Lions and Falcons already have won nine games, so the Seahawks need those teams to lose.

For the 49ers, they’re 11-3 and already have wrapped up the NFC West title. But they also need to keep winning to secure the No. 2 seed in the conference, and a first-round bye in the playoffs, because the Saints also are 11-3. The Saints and Falcons meet on Monday night, and the Seahawks and 49ers will be pulling for different teams for different reasons – if the Seahawks are still in the hunt by then.

But there’s so much more involved in this game:

Like, will Marshawn Lynch become the first player to score a rushing touchdown against the 49ers? The 49ers’ defense actually has been impressive for the past couple of seasons, but people are finally noticing because of that 11-3 record. And they’re ridiculously good against the run, ranking first in the league. But Lynch has been the most productive back in the league over the past seven games with 748 yards and eight touchdowns. Last week, he became the first Seahawk to surpass 1,000 yards since Shaun Alexander in 2005. Lynch also has scored in his past 10 games, a franchise record. As hard as it is to bet against the 49ers, don’t bet against Lynch, either.

Like, will the Seahawks’ not-too-shabby-either defense be able to contain Frank Gore and then pressure Alex Smith into making some mistakes – which the 49ers once-beleaguered QB has avoided for the most part this season?

Like, which team wins the turnover battle? Because that team almost assuredly will win the game. The 49ers have created the most turnovers in the league (35) and committed the fewest (10). So it’s eighth-grade Sewickley that they’re a league-best plus-25 in the all-important take-away/give-away ratio. But the Seahawks’ three-game winning streak has been fueled by turnovers – 10 of them, including four interceptions by XXL cornerback Brandon Browner.

Like, do the Seahawks really have a chance in this one? The 49ers are 11-3, after all. But two of those losses have come in their past four games – on the road against the Ravens and Cardinals, teams the Seahawks beat this season at CenturyLink Field. The 49ers did slap a 33-17 loss on the Seahawks in the season opener in San Francisco, but it was 19-17 with four minutes left in the game before Ted Ginn returned a kickoff and also a punt for touchdowns. But the chances are good they won’t get Ginn-ed a-Ginn because he is not expected to play today. The Seahawks are, in the estimation of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Justin Smith, playing as well any team in the league – having won three in a row and five of their past six.

There is, however, no question that this should be one heckuva a game before a sellout crowd on Fan Appreciation Day. So sit back and enjoy, wherever you are, and join us at Seahawks.com for that live chat.


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Cyber surfing: Saturday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 24:

 

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at how similar the approach to how they want to play is for the Seahawks and 49ers as they prepare to play each other at CenturyLink Field today: “The Seahawks and 49ers share a style of play that starts with a big-bodied defense, includes a hardheaded insistence upon running the football, and continues through a fixation on turnovers that could be diagnosed as clinically obsessive. That’s the blueprint that has taken San Francisco to its first division title since 2002, and it’s the recipe that explains how Seattle has rebounded from a 2-6 start. ‘The formula has been very similar,’ coach Pete Carroll said. That’s what makes Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field so very intriguing. Something’s got to give.”

 

O’Neil also has his “Keys to the Game,” including this one: “Get an early lead. That doesn’t happen often against San Francisco. The 49ers have allowed just 29 points in the first quarter this year and have faced a halftime deficit just three times. The 49ers’ conservative play-calling is a reason why they’ve committed so few turnovers, but it’s also why it’s hard for them to make up ground in games like their Thanksgiving loss to Baltimore. If the Seahawks can get a lead, that will force the 49ers to decide whether they’re going to open up and take some chances.”

 

Eric Williams at the News Tribune stays with the “something’s got to give” angle: “The immovable object vs. the unstoppable force. Two high-powered, efficient units will decide this afternoon’s game at CenturyLink Field between NFC West rivals Seattle and San Francisco. The 49ers have the league’s best run defense and haven’t given up a rushing touchdown all season. But Seattle’s run offense, led by Marshawn Lynch, has been on a second-half tear. Lynch has rushed for 748 yards in the past seven games, the most of any running back in the NFL. And he’s in the midst of a 10-game scoring streak.”

 

John Boyle at the Everett Herald looks at how the Seahawks’ home finale as playoff significance for the second season in a row: “When the Seahawks play host to the 49ers today, both teams will have plenty to keep them motivated beyond the fact they are division rivals and their coaches have a bit of a contentious relationship going back to their Pac-10 days. For Seattle, which has won five of six since posting a 2-6 record in the first half of the season, this game is a must-win for its wild-card hopes. The Seahawks need some help to make the playoffs even if they win their final two games, but a loss today renders all postseason discussions moot. The 49ers, meanwhile, long ago clinched the NFC West, but with an 11-3 record they are still battling New Orleans for a first-round bye, and they even have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed if Green Bay stumbles down the stretch. It’s not as simple as last year’s winner-takes-the-NFC-West game between St. Louis and Seattle, but this is still a game with big playoff implications for both parties.”

 

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at how the Seahawks really do have something to appreciate on Fan Appreciation Day: “ ‘Absolutely, we are greatly appreciative of our 12th MAN, and all the 12 jerseys, and the ‘Value of 12’ and whatever other acronym of 12 they have that’s out there that’s in our stadium,’ said cornerback Roy Lewis, who also played at the University of Washington and is in his third season with the Seahawks. ‘They do a fantastic job of getting us fired up. We feed of the energy they create. And when we stoke that energy, they reward us even more. So it’s been an honor to play in front of those fans.’ ”

 

We’re also got a look at the turnover factor in today’s game in “Friday in Hawkville,” as well as a closer look at the game in our “Matchup box,” and Tony Ventrella’s video preview.

 

Mike Sando at ESPN.com has his “Final Word” on the NFC West, including this: “About those playoff scenarios: The Cardinals and Seahawks must win Saturday to remain in contention for the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC. But if Detroit beats San Diego and Atlanta wins against New Orleans, both NFC West teams are out regardless. That is because all scenarios placing an NFC West team in the postseason require the NFC West team going 2-0 while Detroit and/or Atlanta goes 0-2. The Falcons and Saints do not play until Monday night, so the Seahawks and Cardinals could remain in suspense all weekend even if they win. Update: The Falcons directly affect the Cardinals’ eligibility for postseason; they affect only the Seahawks’ ability to claim the fifth or sixth seed.”

 

For a look at the rest of the league, there’s Clark Judge’s “Peek at the Week” at CBSSports.com; and John Czarnecki’s “Countdown to Kickoff” at FoxSports.com.

 


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On this date

A look at the memorable – and not-so-memorable – moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 24:

1983: In the Seahawks’ first playoff game, on a Saturday afternoon at the Kingdome, Dave Krieg passes for three touchdowns – to Steve Largent, Pete Metzelaars and Paul Johns – in a 31-7 victory over the Broncos. Kenny Easley leads the defensive effort with 10 tackles and a sack.

1994: In what will be Tom Flores’ final game as coach, and on a day when the wind-chill at old Cleveland Stadium is 22 degrees, the Browns roll to a 35-9 victory. The Seahawks score their only touchdown with 1:22 remaining on Stan Gelbaugh’s 25-yard pass to James McKnight.

1995: The Seahawks close their first season under Dennis Erickson the same way they opened it, with a lopsided loss to the Chiefs – this time 26-3 in Kansas City. Steve Broussard’s 70-yard kickoff return sets up the Seahawks’ only score, a 34-yard field goal by Todd Peterson.

2005: On a Saturday afternoon in Seattle, Shaun Alexander runs for 139 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Hasselbeck passes for two more scores, including one to Alexander, in a 28-13 victory over the Colts that caps a club-record 11-game winning streak.

2006: The Seahawks take a 17-13 lead on a 9-yard TD run by Shaun Alexander and a 33-yard field goal by Josh Brown, but Vincent Jackson catches a pass from Philip Rivers in the end zone with 29 seconds to play to give the Chargers a 20-17 victory in Seattle. Alexander finishes with 140 yards and two TDs.


Friday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 23:

FOCUS ON

Turnovers. “It’s all about the ball.” This isn’t just one of Pete Carroll’s cornerstone credos – something that just happens to be plastered throughout the team’s meeting rooms – it also will be a key to any upset hopes the Seahawks have in their Christmas Eve matchup with the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

The 49ers are 11-3 in large part because they have forced 35 turnovers and are plus-25 in the take-away/give-away ratio, both league bests.

“I think it’s a product of hustle. It’s product of players’ ability. It’s a product of scheme. All those things,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Much like Seattle. You watch them on tape and you can continually see their defense, their guys, in the right places with the right leverage. And therefore make the interception, make the tip, the deflection; make the hit that causes the fumble.

“So a lot of things contribute to it.”

Are the Seahawks intimidated? Hardly. “Obviously that plays a big part in winning games,” quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said of the 49ers’ positively impressive numbers in the pivotal categories. “We’re going to try to keep from turning the ball over and see where it gets us.

“We like our chances.”

That’s because, as Harbaugh mentioned, the Seahawks have done a turnaround in their own turnover ratio. They’re plus-8 during their three-game winning streak, after being minus-5 at midseason. They’ve done that by forcing turnovers (10 in the past three games) and not turning the ball over as much (two in the past three games).

“(We’re) taking care of the football,” Carroll said. “We never stop talking about turnovers. We were doing that at the start. It’s just our whole style has kind of transformed somewhat.”

As a result, the Seahawks also rank in the Top 5 in the league in take-away/give-away ratio and turnovers:

Ratio

Team               Net difference

49ers               plus-25

Packers           plus-20

Patriots           plus-12

Lions                plus-11

Seahawks        plus-8

Turnovers

Team                No.

49ers                 35

Packers             32

Lions                  30

Seahawks         29

Patriots             28

Bears                 28

Jets                    28

ON THE FIELD

The players held their walk-through this morning in the indoor practice facility.

And there was a holiday flair to the day, as Carroll brought in a gospel choir to sing at the team’s morning meeting and assistant equipment manager Derin Lazuta went through his duties during the walk-through dressed in a red-and-green elf suit.

PLAYER WATCH

Marshawn Lynch. No back in the league has more rushing yards (748) than the Seahawks’ Skittle-back over the past seven games, and no player in franchise history has scored touchdowns in more consecutive games (10).

But no one needs to remind Justin Smith of all the things Lynch has been able to accomplish this season. The 49ers Pro Bowl defensive lineman already is sold on Lynch.

“The way Marshawn is running after he gets the first and second contacts, this guy is not going down,” Smith said this week. “That’s how he’s run for his whole career, but it really looks like the last five or six games this guy is turning it up a notch.

“I think he’s one of the top backs in the league. With the way he runs and the plays he makes, I’d put him definitely at No. 1, 2 or 3, for sure. He’s a top back in the NFL. The way he runs and the way he can make one, two, three or four guys miss is amazing. Then the power that he has with his size and he’s got speed, everything. He’s the total package.

“So that’s who we’ve got to focus on and that’s who we’ve got to stop. It’s not going to be easy.”

INJURY REPORT

Leading receiver Doug Baldwin is listed as questionable for the game and has not practiced since turning an ankle in Wednesday’s practice. But Carroll remains hopeful that Baldwin will be able to play.

Here’s the official end-of-the-week status report:

Doubtful

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

LB Malcolm Smith (concussion)

DT Clinton McDonald (concussion)

Questionable

WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)

Probable

OG Robert Gallery (pelvis)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

MLB David Hawthorne (knee)

For the 49ers:

Questionable

WR Braylon Edwards (knee)

RB Bruce Miller (knee)

LB Patrick Willis (hamstring)

WR Ted Ginn (ankle)

Willis was limited in practice today, but practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring his hamstring in the Dec. 4 game against the Rams and is expecting to play. But Ginn did not practice today, and the returner who ran back a kickoff and punt for TDs against the Seahawks in the season opener is not expected to play.

STAT DU JOUR

Carroll balked this week when asked about the team’s “inability” to own the NFC West, his started priority goal when hired as coach 23 months ago. Yes, the 49ers are 11-3 and have wrapped up the division title this season. But if the Seahawks can get past the 49ers on Saturday and the Cardinals in Arizona next week, and the 49ers beat the Rams in their finale, they will finish with the best division record of the four teams:

Team             Projected division record

Seahawks                 5-1

49ers                         4-2

Cardinals                  3-3

Rams                         0-6

UP NEXT

Christmas Eve, and a ho-ho-ho of a matchup between the Seahawks and 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

The players and coaches will be off on Christmas Day, before everyone returns on Monday to start preparing for the regular-season finale against the Cardinals in Arizona.

YOU DON’T SAY

“Some things have to happen for us to get to the playoffs. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m just proud to see the turnaround that we had, especially with all these guys and pieces that we’ve had.” – Lynch on the Seahawks going 5-1 to start the second half of the season after a 2-6 first half


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Seahawks vs. 49ers

When: Saturday, 1:15 p.m., CenturyLink Field

Records: Seahawks 7-7 and tied for second in NFC West; 49ers 11-3 and already have clinched the NFC West title

Ramifications: Seahawks need a win to remain in the playoff hunt; 49ers need a win to keep pace with the also 11-3 Saints for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs

TV: Fox (channel 13 in Seattle), with Ron Pitts, Charles Davis and Drea Avent

Radio: 710 ESPN and 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: Cardinals (7-7) at Bengals; Rams (2-12) at Steelers

Matchup microscope

Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch vs. the 49ers defense: The Seahawks will run the ball, even against the NFL’s top-ranked run defense and a unit that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season or a 100-yard rusher in its past 36 games. They have to, because it has become their offensive identity, one they’ve been striving to achieve all season. After rushing for 100-plus yards in six consecutive games, the Seahawks were held to 60 – and Lynch to 42 – by the Bears last week. But they continued to run: 20 carries for Lynch and 33 for the team. Despite averaging 1.8 yards per carry, the threat of the run – and what Lynch is capable of doing on any given run – helped set up the play-action passes that allowed Tarvaris Jackson to complete 15 of 19 passes for 176 yards in the second half. The Seahawks must have the same mindset against a 49ers’ defense is allowing averages of 71.5 rushing yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry.

One to watch

Seahawks SS Kam Chancellor and LB K.J. Wright vs. 49ers TE Vernon Davis: Of all the options the 49ers have on offense, none is as difficult to deal with as the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Davis. He has the size of a tight end, but the speed and receiving skills of a wide receiver. And when quarterback Alex Smith gets in trouble, Davis is the first place he looks. The 49ers have only two receivers with more than 19 receptions – Davis, with 55 for 620 yards and six TDs; and wide-out Michael Crabtree, 59 for 703 and two. But while you know what you’re getting with Crabtree, you never know where Davis is going to be or who might have to matchup against him. Davis has 26 TD catches since 2009, the most of any tight end in the league.

Fun to watch

49ers RB Frank Gore vs. the Seahawks run defense: Gore is no stranger to the Seahawks, having put together 212-, 207- and 144-yard games against them. But that was in 2006 and 2009, and these Seahawks are not those Seahawks. They’re bigger, more aggressive, more physical and just better against the run. The Seahawks are allowing an average of 106.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks 11th in the league; and 3.7 yards per carry, which ranks fourth. They need to control Gore and then get Smith into must-pass situations to unleash a pass defense that has nine interceptions during the team’s three-game winning streak and produced four sacks last week.

One tough task

The Seahawks’ offensive line vs. 49ers lineman Justin Smith: Say what you will about inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman and rookie pass-rusher Aldon Smith, but even 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh says that Justin Smith is the team’s MVP. That’s because he can line up so many places, and cause so many problems from all of them. And even on those occasions where you’re able to handle Smith, his disruptive and at time overpowering presence creates opportunities for his teammates because of the extra attention he warrants.

Worth noting

The Seahawks’ defense has allowed the fewest points (93) and second-fewest touchdowns (nine) in the league during the second half. … The 49ers lead the league in turnovers (35) and turnover ratio (plus-25), but no team in the NFL has take-aways in the past six games than the Seahawks (18). The 49ers are second (16) during that span. … In the 49ers’ 33-17 victory in the season opener, Ted Ginn returned a kickoff (102 yards) and a punt (55 yards) for touchdowns in the fourth quarter after the Seahawks had cut their lead to 19-17. But he is not expected to play in this game because of a sore ankle. … Lynch has the most rushing yards in the league (748) over the past seven games and has scored a TD in his past 10 games, a franchise record and the longest streak in the league since 2006. … Jackson has a passer rating of 104.5 during the team’s three-game winning streak, and it spikes to 130.4 in the second halves of those games. … CB Brandon Browner has intercepted a pass in the past four games and can break the franchise record with one against the 49ers. He also leads the league and has set a club record with 220 return yards on his six interceptions. … 49ers K David Akers already has set a single-season franchise record with 143 points. … 49ers P Andy Lee is second in the league in average (50.5, by .1 to the Raiders’ Shane Lechler) and is first in net average (44.1). … 49ers FS Dashon Goldson and CB Carlos Rogers also have six interceptions, which tie them for fourth in the league with Browner. … Bowman (135) and Willis (115) led the 49ers in tackles. … MLB David Hawthorne (95) leads the Seahawks in tackles.


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Cyber surfing: Friday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 23:

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times takes a big look at the Seahawks’ big, and big-play, secondary – cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman and safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas: “Seattle has 21 interceptions this season, already its most in any season since 2004. The secondary has accounted for all but five of those picks, and of the five turnovers Seattle forced in Chicago last week, the secondary produced four of them. The Seahawks have the youngest secondary in the NFL. They might also have the most unlikely.”

Eric Williams at the News Tribune stays on the turnover theme, as the 49ers have the most in the NFL and the Seahawks rank in the Top 5 entering Saturday’s game at CenturyLink Field: “ ‘It’s absolutely the No. 1 philosophy in how you play the game for us,’ Seattle coach Pete Carroll said about his team’s recent turnover streak. ‘It’s all about the ball, and guys are doing it.’ One of the reasons for Seattle’s success creating turnovers has been the offense’s ability to get ahead. The Seahawks have been ahead or tied at the end of the first half in five of the past six games, which allows the defensive linemen to pin their ears back and rush the passer.”

John Boyle at the Everett Herald takes a closer look at Earl Thomas, the Seahawks’ free safety who has stepped up his game despite the fact that his interception total is down from his rookie season: “Last year Thomas, the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft, had five interceptions as his incredible speed and athleticism allowed him to make plays even if he wasn’t always in the right place. Yet for all the big plays, there also were times when Thomas’ inexperience led to miscues in the secondary. This season he has just two interceptions, but Thomas has been a much better player overall.”

Tim Booth at the Associated Press, via PI.com, looks at the playoff implications for both teams: “Meanwhile, Seattle (7-7) has won five of six to get back to .500, but needs plenty of help to complete its second-half charge and reach the postseason for a second straight season. Foremost is Seattle must win its final two games and see either Atlanta or Detroit drop its final two games to even have a hope. ‘Some things got to happen for us to get to the playoffs. If that happen it happens, if it don’t, it don’t,’ Lynch said. ‘I’m just proud to see the turnaround that we had, especially with all these young guys and pieces that we’ve had.’ “

Here at Seahawks.com, we take a look at Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks’ leading receiver who turned an ankle in practice but it expected to play against the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh, his coach at Stanford last season: “ ‘Well, I should have drafted him,’ was Harbaugh’s first response this week when asked about Baldwin. ‘Kicking myself for not doing that. And at the same time, really happy for Doug. I’ve seen him really grow the whole season, from preseason. He’s been relentless. … He lines up in a lot of different places and does a lot of different things for Seattle. It’s been great to see him, knowing him the way I know him. I can’t say enough.’ ”

We’ve also got Red Bryant’s reaction to the birth of his first child and Richard Sherman’s reaction to his locker room dance-off with Anthony Hargrove in “Thursday in Hawkville,” as well as Tony Ventrella’s video recap.

For a look at the rest of the league, there’s John Clayton’s “First and 10” at ESPN.com, which includes this note on the Seahawks: “The Seahawks have become a hot defense that now ranks eighth in the league. The best showdown will be the 49ers’ run defense, which hasn’t given up a rushing touchdown, going against Seahawks halfback Marshawn Lynch, who has a touchdown (11 rushing, one receiving) his past 10 games”; and Peter King’s “Weekend Pickoff” at SI.com where he likes the 49ers, but also the Seahawks: “I like the 49ers a lot, and think they have a heck of a shot to confound the offense-lovers in January and win one or two playoff games. I like Seattle a little more in this game because I tend to like the desperate team late in the season. And because you 49er fans get SOOOOOO angry when I pick against your team. It’s such a cute trait. Pick: Seahawks 17, 49ers 10.”


On this date

A look at the memorable – and not-so-memorable – moments in Seahawks history that occurred on Dec. 23:

1989: In Steve Largent’s final game, the Seahawks are shut out 29-0 by the Redskins on a Saturday afternoon at the Kingdome as former Washington State QB Mark Rypien completes 22 of 31 passes for 290 yards and a TD. Largent catches two passes for 41 yards and Eugene Robinson has 12 tackles and an interception, but the Redskins control the ball for 41 minutes.

1990: Derrick Fenner scores on a 1-yard run on the first play of the third quarter and the Seahawks hold on for a 17-12 victory over the Broncos at the Kingdome. Eugene Robinson and Melvin Jenkins intercept John Elway passes and Jacob Green gets to the Broncos’ QB for 1½ sacks.

2000: The Bills roll up 579 yards on a rain-swept Saturday night at Husky Stadium in taking a 42-23 victory in Cortez Kennedy’s final game. Doug Flutie passes for three touchdowns and 366 yards, while Antowain Smith runs for 147 yards and three scores.

2001: Shaun Alexander scores on a 29-yard run and with a 16-yard pass and John Randle recovered a fumble in the end zone to stake the Seahawks to a 24-17 lead, but Kerry Collins throws a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard with 20 seconds left to give the Giants a 27-24 victory over the Seahawks at Giants Stadium.

2007: Matt Hasselbeck throws touchdown passes to Shaun Alexander and Nate Burleson and Leroy Hill returns a fumble for a score in a 27-6 victory over the Ravens in Seattle that runs the Seahawks record to 10-5.


Thursday in Hawkville

A recap of the activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Dec. 22:

FOCUS ON

Red Bryant. Or, actually Joseph Brooks Bryant, Red’s son who was born last night.

Coach Pete Carroll caused a mini-stir when he tweeted, “We heard he was 17.2 lbs.” Actually, the first child of Bryant and his wife, Janelle, weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces. But that doesn’t mean Joseph doesn’t have much bigger things in his future.

“My wife, she definitely was happy it wasn’t 17 pounds,” Bryant, who weighs 330, said in the locker room after today’s practice. “He’s just the same size I was when I was a baby. My mom said I actually doubled my weight in two weeks. So I’m assuming he’s going to do the same.

“But he’s the exact build and everything that I was. A lot of people thought he was going to be humungous, but I knew he was going to be an average baby. But I also know he’s going to grow to be a big, strong man.”

Joseph also is Red’s given name, but the baby is not a Jr. because of his middle name.

“We named him after my Godmother, Sue Brooks,” Bryant said. “She passed away two years ago from cancer. So we named him to honor her.”

But will anyone call the latest member of the Bryant/Green family Joseph? Or will he become “Little Red”?

“I don’t know,” Bryant said. “His grandma, my wife’s mom, she’s worried that people are going to call him ‘Little Red.’ It’s probably going to come with the territory. I want him to have his own identity. But I’ll be surprised if people didn’t call him ‘Little Red.’ ”

So, will the starting left defensive end for the Seahawks in 22 years be named Joseph Brooks Bryant, and wear No. 79? Janelle’s father, Jacob Green, filled that role and jersey from 1980-91 when he set the franchise record with 116 sacks. Now, her husband and Jacob’s son-in-law is playing the same spot and wearing the same number.

“That would be a huge coincidence,” Bryant said with a huge smile. “You never know. You never know. I’m pretty sure his grandfather is going to be in his ear. I’ll be in his ear. So we’ll see where the chips fall.”

Bryant then paused, as if to let the events of his sleepless night and the entire year wash over him.

“I’m just extremely blessed,” he said. “My wife is doing great. My son is doing great. 2011 has just been a great year. I can’t thank God enough. He’s truly been good to me.”

ON THE FIELD

The players worked without pads or helmets for 90 minutes in the indoor practice facility, their final full workout before Saturday’s game against the 49ers at CenturyLink Field.

“We had a great week,” Carroll said. “This has really been the kind of week you hope for this late in the season. The guys are really on it. We’re looking forward to a tremendous opportunity to play at home for the last time this year. We’re excited about that.

“And the fact that every ticket is sold, that’s exciting that the fans are ready to go and the 12th MAN will rockin’. So we’ll make it one great event for everybody, hopefully, by playing well.”

DANCE FEVER

After practice, rookie cornerback Richard Sherman and veteran defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove strutted some different moves in the locker room. With teammates watching, cheering and capturing the action on their phones, they ripped through a dance-off. It was only fitting, because these two are always dancing on the sideline during practice.

And the winner was? “I am definitely claiming victory,” Sherman said. “I put a couple of things on tape that he was unable to match. He put a lot of good plays out there with the ‘wheel chair.’ He pulled out all the stops. It was an incredibly impressive effort from a 300-pounder.”

IN ’N OUT

Leading receiver Doug Baldwin did not practice today after turning his left ankle in practice yesterday, but Carroll said he expects the rookie to be ready to play against the 49ers.

Bryant returned to practice, as did fellow D-linemen Raheem Brock and Clinton McDonald.

Here’s the official injury report:

Did not practice

WR Doug Baldwin (ankle)

CB Kennard Cox (hamstring)

LB Malcolm Smith (concussion)

Limited participation

DT Clinton McDonald (concussion)

Full participation

OG Robert Gallery (pelvis)

QB Tarvaris Jackson (pectoral)

MLB David Hawthorne (knee)

FINAL JEOPARDY

The Seahawks were the question to the Final Jeopardy answer on the popular TV quiz show last night. Well, the proper response was Seattle Seahawks, because the answer was which NFL team has the same three letters in its nickname as the city it represents.

“I know there’s a lot of important stuff going on, but do you realize we were on ‘Jeopardy’ last night?” Carroll said. “Pretty good.”

Asked what the question was, Carroll didn’t hesitate before offering, “Will you pose that answer in the form of a question, please?”

STAT DU JOUR

Brandon Browner has etched his name into the Seahawks’ record book in his first season with the team. The free-agent cornerback from the CFL has more interception return yards (220) than any player in franchise history, as well as the longest return (97 yards). He also has tied a club record with interceptions in his past four games. Here’s a look at that list:

Player (year)                          No.

Cornell Webster (1978-79)    4

John Harris (1980)                   4

Dave Brown (1983-84)            4

Kenny Easley (1984)                4

Eugene Robinson (1991)        4

Brandon Browner (2011)       4

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Friday, which of course is Saturday in this mismatched week at VMAC, because the Seahawks play on Saturday. So the typical day-before-the-game walk-through will be held Friday morning.

YOU DON’T SAY

“I should have drafted him. Kicking myself for not doing that.” – Jim Harbaugh on Baldwin, who played for the 49ers coach at Stanford last season


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Coverage areas

Eight percent of the nation’s TV sets will receive Saturday’s Seahawks-49ers game on FOX at 1 p.m. Ron Pitts, Charles Davis and Drea Avent will have the call. Here’s a look at the markets that will receive the Seahawks’ game against San Francisco:

  • Anchorage
  • Bend, Ore.
  • Billings, Mont.
  • Boise
  • Chico, Calif.
  • Eugene, Ore.
  • Eureka, Calif.
  • Fairbanks, Alaska
  • Fresno, Calif.
  • Medford, Ore.
  • Monterey, Calif.
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Reno, Nev.
  • Sacramento
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Spokane
  • Yakima

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Cyber surfing: Thursday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, Dec. 22:

Duff McKagan offers his season’s greetings at ESPN.com and they include a playoff berth for the Seahawks: “Santa Claus, all I want for Christmas is for my Seahawks to win out, and everyone else to lose. Santa, our defense has been very, very good this year – and that has been enough for them to go 5-1 in their past six games. Santa, the big, bad NBA stole our basketball team from Seattle, and our MLB team is horrendous these days. All we want for Christmas is something positive sports-wise for our city. Can you put that somewhere under just one of our abundant supply of fir trees up here in the Northwest?”

Speaking of playoffs, Mike Sando at ESPN.com provides the “Dream scenario” this weekend for the still-playoff hopeful Seahawks: It all starts with the Seahawks beating the 49ers, of course, but they also need wins by the Bengals (over the Cardinals), Jets (over the Giants), Chargers (over the Lions), Cowboys (over the Eagles) and Bears (over the Packers).

Sando also has his weekly “Injury situations that matter” in the NFC West: “An ankle injury limited receiver Doug Baldwin in practice Wednesday. Having Baldwin ready is crucial now that Mike Williams has joined Sidney Rice on the Seahawks’ injured reserve list. Baldwin is the team’s best option on third down. The Seahawks figure to need their tight ends in protection against the 49ers’ formidable defensive front seven. Linebacker David Hawthorne’s full participation in practice despite a knee injury comes as a positive sign. The team has been resting Hawthorne during the week recently. Getting Hawthorne healthier is important because the team’s depth at linebacker has run low in recent weeks. The 49ers favor heavier personnel groupings, so a full contingent of linebackers would have greater value this week than in some others.”

And speaking of injuries, Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times looks at the offensive line that has continued to get it done despite playing without three injured starters: “The injuries have been so widespread that it’s been tough to keep track — even for the guys on the field. During Seattle’s Monday victory over St. Louis, left guard Robert Gallery left with a hip injury in the fourth quarter. It was only when Lynch got a second look at his 16-yard touchdown run late in the game that he realized Gallery had been replaced by rookie Jarriel King. ‘I didn’t know until I looked up at the replay,’ Lynch said. The Seahawks have been so successful plugging in players like Breno Giacomini at right tackle and Paul McQuistan at both guard spots and now at left tackle that some wonder if the starters were overrated.”

And speaking of Lynch, Eric Williams at the News Tribune says that the “Beast Mode” back has become the face of the franchise: “Someone had to fill the void left by the departure of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. And although he has been with the Seattle Seahawks a mere 14 months, in that relatively short time Marshawn Lynch’s pile-driving, relentlessly churning legs have helped personify this franchise’s identity. Just ask his coach. ‘He’s been the face of the program here,’ Pete Carroll said. ‘In terms of setting the tempo and the attitude, the philosophy that he brings, the competitiveness that he stands for in his play that you can’t help but see by the way he brings it, are all exemplary and emblematic of what we’d like to be. So, he’s had a big play in this.’ ”

Len Pasquarelli at CBSSports.com looks at head-coaching candidates from the league’s assistant coaches, and includes Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell: “Former college quarterback (Wisconsin) worked closely with Brett Favre in Green Bay (2000-2005), and has drawn praise from the future Hall of Fame passer. Was coordinator in Minnesota for five seasons under Brad Childress before moving to the Seahawks this season. Seattle ranks only 28th offensively, but Bevell has done a nice job with modest talent, and with quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. At 41, he is in his 12th NFL season.”

Here at Seahawks.com, we look at Tarvaris Jackson’s impressive numbers from the second halves of the three-game winning streak: “Jackson’s passer rating in those games is 104.5, as he has completed 67 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. In the second half, however, that rating balloons to 130.6, because he has completed 76 percent of his passes and had those three TD passes. ‘There are so many things that go into the position, other than how many yards you throw for or how many touchdown passes you have or touchdowns-to-interceptions – people usually go to that statistic line,’ 49ers coach and former NFL QB Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday during a conference-call interview. ‘But he’s a threat to run. He buys time. Makes throws; strong, accurate thrower. Plays with a lot of poise. You don’t win that many football games without the quarterback playing well, and doing things that don’t always show up on the statistical sheet.’ ”

We also take a look at Paul McQuistan and how valuable his versatility has turned out to be in “Wednesday in Hawkville.” Tony Ventrella has his video recap, as well as his “Seahawks Insider” that this week features Deon Butler.

John Boyle at the Everett Herald also looks at Jackson’s impact over the past three games: “The Seahawks hope to beat the 49ers this weekend by running the ball down their throats. In reality, however, beating San Francisco will likely require a strong performance from quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. The 49ers lead the league in run defense both in terms of yards allowed per game and per carry. To move the ball, the Seahawks will either have to do something almost no other team has done this season, or turn to Jackson to provide an offense spark. The good news for the Seahawks is that calling on Jackson to make plays may not be such a bad idea. Not the way he has played of late.”

Lisa Altobelli at NFL.com takes a look at Marcus Trufant’s annual bowling tournament to raise funds for his foundation: “Seattle has been known for many things over the years. There’s great coffee, great fish throwing, a great grunge scene back in the day… but great bowling? ‘People are into it here,’ said Marcus Trufant, who holds an annual Bowling Classic fundraiser. ’Anyone can do it, everyone likes it, and the weather isn’t a factor. It’s a big deal to me.’ We’ll have to take Trufant’s word for it, but he would know. Currently in his ninth season with the Seahawks, Trufant is also an area native, having grown up just south of Seattle in Tacoma.”