Countdown to kickoff

Greetings from a chilly Qwest Field, where the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon and are trying to do something they have not done since last December – win back-to-back games.

The Seahawks also will be looking to avenge a 23-10 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 2. But the teams that will square off today are not the same teams that played at Candlestick Park in September.

The Seahawks lost QB Matt Hasselbeck (fractured rib), middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (strained hamstring) left tackle Sean Locklear (high ankle sprain) and cornerback Josh Wilson (high ankle sprain) during that game, and already were playing without linebacker Leroy Hill (pulled groin), center Chris Spencer (strained quad) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (strained calf).

All but Tatupu are back, but which Seahawks running game will show up against the 49ers’ fifth-ranked run defense? Hasselbeck says the Seahawks are committed to running the ball today, with leading rusher Julius Jones back for the first time since bruising a lung in the Week 10 loss to the Cardinals and Justin Forsett listed as questionable – but expected to play – after straining a quad in practice on Friday. Forsett has run for 100-plus yards twice in Jones’ absence, but also was held to 9 in the Seahawks’ franchise-low 4-yard performance against the Vikings two weeks ago.

The 49ers now have former first-round draft choice Alex Smith at quarterback and Michael Crabtree, this year’s first-round draft choice, available to catch his passes. Neither played in the first Seattle game, and their presence has coach Mike Singletary going with more spread and shotgun formations, while still trying to keep Frank Gore involved.

Gore? You might remember him. Ran for 207 yards against the Seahawks in September, including TD runs of 80 and 79 yards. Yeah, that Frank Gore.

The Seahawks also are taking the field for first time since Tim Ruskell resigned as president and GM on Thursday. Many of the players – especially those Ruskell brought to the team – say they are to blame for not winning enough games, which is the reason Ruskell was not going to be offered a new contract when his expired after the season. Forty seven of the 53 players on current roster have joined the team since Ruskell was hired in 2005, including 19 this year.

The 49ers (5-6) are two games behind the division-leading Arizona Cardinals (7-4), a team they host next week on “Monday Night Football.” And, the Cardinals play the Vikings (10-1) today. So, you do the math. The 49ers definitely have something to play for not only today, but next week.

We’ll be back later with the inactives.


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