When: Sunday, 1:15 p.m., Qwest Field
Records: 49ers were 8-8 last season; Seahawks 5-11
TV: KCPQ/13, with Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan and Chris Myers
Radio: 97.3 FM and 710 ESPN, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller
Seahawks defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: The last three times Gore has played at Qwest Field, he has rushed for 25, 61 and 72 yards. But he also has the top two rushing performances in the long history of the 49ers’ franchise, and both came against the Seahawks – 212 yards in 2006 and 207 last season. He broke a 51-yarder during the 212-yard game and last season had scoring runs of 79 and 80 yards – making him and Barry Sanders the only backs in NFL history to have two 75-plus yard TD runs in one game. The Seahawks’ defense has gotten bigger, with the move of 332-pound tackle Red Bryant to left end. But has it gotten better after ranking 15th in the league last season? This out-of-the-gates challenge will be a good gauge.
One to watch
Seahawks LT Tyler Polumbus vs. 49ers DE Justin Smith: Polumbus has been with the Seahawks all of 12 days, but he did start eight games for the Denver Broncos last season and is the Seahawks’ best option to replace injured first-round draft choice Russell Okung. Then there’s Smith, the Pro Bowl pass-rusher. In addition to his six sacks last season, the relentless Smith also had 78 QB pressures and 52 QB hits. He’s also started 139 consecutive games, tops among active D-linemen in the league. Polumbus likely will get help against Smith in obvious passing situations and an occasional respite because Smith slides inside to tackle in nickel defense.
Fun to watch
Seahawks LB Aaron Curry vs. 49ers TE Vernon Davis: The coaches want more from Curry in his second season, and last year’s first-round draft choice will get more in this matchup against the 49ers’ Pro Bowler – who last season led the team with 78 receptions and also tied the league record for TD catches (13) by a tight end. Davis had six catches for 111 yards and a TD in the Week 13 game at Qwest last season. Curry has the size (6-2, 255) and coverage skills to matchup with Davis (6-3, 250), but Davis is faster. This won’t be an all-day sucker of an assignment for Curry, because he’ll also step up to rush the passer in the nickel. That’s when strong safety Lawyer Milloy likely will be matched against Davis.
The Seahawks have won six of their past seven home openers, including a 28-0 shutout of the St. Louis Rams in last year’s season opener. … The Seahawks will have 10 new starters – WR Mike Williams, LG Mike Gibson, RB Justin Forsett, either second TE Chris Baker or FB Quinton Ganther and Polumbus on offense; DE Chris Clemons, CB Kelly Jennings, FS Earl Thomas, Milloy and Bryant on defense. … 49ers MLB Patrick Willis led the NFL with 173 tackles last season, including a helmet-to-back shot on Matt Hasselbeck in Week 2 that left the Seahawks QB with fractured ribs. … The 49ers start two rookies on their offensive line – first round draft choices Mike Iupati at left guard and Anthony Davis at right tackle. … 49ers QB Alex Smith was the first pick overall in the 2004 draft. He passed for 310 yards and two touchdowns at Qwest Field last season, when the Seahawks won 20-17. … Seahawks’ first-year coach Pete Carroll is 3-1 in his previous openers as a NFL head coach – 1-0 with the Jets in 1994; 2-1 with the New England Patriots from 1997-99. … The Seahawks are 12-22 in their previous season openers; the 49ers 31-28.