When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Candlestick Park
Records: Seahawks 1-0, 49ers 1-0
TV: KCPQ/13 (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick)
Radio: 710 ESPN-AM and KIRO-FM/97.3 (Steve Raible, Warren Moon, Jen Mueller)
The Seahawks defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore. It’s a full-unit task because this guy can be an all-day sucker, as the Seahawks are well aware. But after Gore ran for 212 and 144 yards against them in 2006, the Seahawks have limited Gore to an average of 76.5 yards the past two seasons. But riding Gore is part of the new plan under coach Mike Singletary, even when he’s not ripping off long runs. In last week’s upset of the defending division and conference champion Cardinals, Gore averaged 1.4 yards – but still got 22 carries. So the Seahawks will have to rally to the ball and gang-tackle Gore to keep him in check.
One to watch
Matt Hasselbeck. The Seahawks QB is 8-2 in his past 10 starts against the 49ers, but he didn’t play in San Francisco in 2006 and last season because of injuries. His most memorable game in the Bay Area came in 2002, when Hasselbeck passed for a then club-record 427 yards by completing 30 of 55 passes. Hasselbeck then broke that record with a 449-yard passing performance in the ’02 season finale against the Chargers in San Diego – giving new meaning to the term West Coast offense. After a slow start in the opener against the Rams last week (5 of 9 for 67 yards and two interceptions), Hasselbeck got his groove back and completed 20 of 25 for 212 yards and three touchdowns the rest of the way.
Fun to watch
Patrick Willis and Lofa Tatupu. This isn’t a head-to-head matchup, obviously, but the performances of these Pro Bowl linebackers will go a long way in determining the outcome of the game. Willis had 13 tackles against the Cardinals, and has led the 49ers in that category the past two seasons. Tatupu, meanwhile, has led the Seahawks in tackles in each of his first four seasons – the first player in franchise history to do it in four consecutive seasons.
The Seahawks collected 13 of their 35 sacks last season in two games against the 49ers. … The Seahawks have won five of the past six games played at Candlestick, and nine of the past 12 in the series. … The Seahawks are 22-12 in the month of September the past 10 years, the second-best record in the league behind the Indianapolis Colts (26-7). … Seahawks coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp also coached together with the 49ers (1997-2003). … Seahawks RB Julius Jones ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ Week 2 loss to the 49ers last season. … Seahawks CB Josh Wilson returned his first career interception 75 yards for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ win at San Francisco last season. … 49ers QB Shaun Hill is 8-3 as a starter, and 5-0 at Candlestick. He had a 102.3 passer rating in the game against the Seahawks at Candlestick last season.
A look at the Seahawks’ opponent in Week 2:
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Candlestick Park
Record: 1-0 after beating the Cardinals in Arizona 20-16 on Sunday
Where they rank: No. 29 on offense (32nd rushing, 22nd passing); No. 15 on defense (6th rushing, 22nd passing)
Series: Seahawks lead 11-9, and have won five of the past six games played in San Francisco.
Star power: Patrick Willis. The 49ers’ Pro Bowl inside linebacker just makes plays. And tackles. Lots of tackles. In Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, Willis had 13 tackles, an interception and another pass defensed. Last year, he had 185 tackles – including eight in each game against the Seahawks, and an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 49ers’ overtime win at Qwest Field.
Unsung hero: Isaac Bruce. The 16-year veteran will turn 37 on Nov. 10. But he has managed to stay a step – or two – ahead of Father Time. Sunday, he hooked up with QB Shaun Hill on a 50-yard pass play that setup the first of two touchdowns by Frank Gore, and three of his four receptions came on third downs. Last season, his first with the 49ers after playing 13 with the St. Louis Rams, Bruce had four catches for 153 yards against the Seahawks at Qwest Field – including a 63-yarder.
On the spot: The offensive line. The 49ers have allowed 110 sacks the past two seasons – 55 last year and 55 in 2007. Not the kind of balance coach Mike Singletary is looking for this season. But Hill went down four times on Sunday, a pace that will produce a 64-sack season. The running game averaged 0.8 yards per carry against the Cardinals. As Singletary put it on Monday, “Our offensive line, for a number of reasons, did not play great.”
Burning question: Which Gore will the Seahawks see on Sunday? After he Gore-d them for 212- and 144-yard rushing performances in 2006, the Seahawks have “limited” Gore to an average of 76.5 rushing yards in four matchups the past two seasons. But then Gore was able to do a lot (he had a rushing TD and receiving TD in the same game for the first time in his career) with a little against the Cardinals (48 yards combined rushing and receiving).
Familiar faces: Starting free safety Dashon Goldson played at the University of Washington, while backup wide receiver Jason Hill played at Washington State. Quality control coach Shane Day coached at Auburn’s Riverside High School, while special assistant to the head coach Bill Nayes was on the Seahawks staff from 1999-2006.
The last word: “I couldn’t care less whether it was an ugly game. It was beautiful for us.” – Singletary, after Sunday’s win over the defending NFC champion Cardinals