Injury Report and the Two Edges of a Seemingly Dominant Matchup

Below the jump is the final injury report for this week's contest. I copy and pasted it from Niners Nation, formatting and all. Thank you, Fooch.

Starting left tackle Joe Staley is out with a broken fibula. Barry Sims and Adam Snyder are being considered as fill-ins. Though it doesn't help San Francisco to be without their starting left tackle, it might not hurt them too much either. Instead of allowing Sims or Snyder to fail and fail and fail, the 49ers will likely pair its tackles with a tight end and motion to account for Seattle's Leo end. It's the same strategy every opponent of recent has done, but San Francisco has extra incentive to game plan against Seattle's lopsided front seven.

The other way to protect a substitute tackle is to run the football. Specifically, when dealing with a dominant edge rusher that struggles to hold the point, teams run at that edge rusher. Teams have done it forever against Dwight Freeney, but Freeney was protected by an offense that could force the opposing offense into passing. And so Freeney, a bit of a one-trick pony, is on his way to Canton.

With Alex Smith starting and Joe Staley out, we can anticipate the 49ers to build their offense off running the football. San Francisco's win against Denver provides a pretty good model for San Francisco's run-pass balance. Like Seattle, Denver is one of the worst teams in football at defending the run. The Broncos played with a lead for most of the game, but the point differential stayed closed and San Francisco continued pounding the rock. They scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and put the game away. The 49ers had run 42 times and passed only 19.

San Francisco started Frank Gore against the Broncos. Gore is now on injured reserve. Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon do not seem on the surface like a particularly special duo of backs, but it might not matter that much. If San Francisco can move the chains and stay close or play with a lead, they will likely stick with the ground game in hopes that something eventually breaks. It's an old school model embraced by a lot of defense first teams, and though passing may be the best way to win on a macro level, given home field advantage, a shaky pass game, a still strong defense and an opponent that has proven it cannot stop the run, San Francisco has every reason to embrace the conservative, run-first model until  Seattle forces them to stop.

The point is, the injury to Joe Staley might take a critical mismatch, Seattle's inability to defend runs behind the tackles and off the edges, and make it a fundamental part of the 49ers' game plan. So, the team on the whole isn't better, but it might just play better than expected against Seattle.

If Seattle can build a lead, Clemons can feast on tackle kabobs and become the first Seahawk since Patrick Kerney to record double digit sacks. That would be preferable, no doubt. If only the offense can protect the defense, build a lead and force San Francisco out of their game plan.

OT Joe Staley (fibula)
Joe Nedney (right knee)

CB William James (concussion)
RB DeShawn Wynn (ankle)

CB William James (concussion)
CB Nate Clements (knee)
NT Aubrayo Franklin (groin)
LB Parys Haralson (ankle)

T Anthony Davis (back)
WR Josh Morgan (shoulder)
CB Shawntae Spencer (quadricep)
LB Takeo Spikes (ankle)
TE Delanie Walker (ankle)
RB Brian Westbrook (not injury related)

OT Chester Pitts (ankle)

WR Ben Obomanu (hand)
WR Mike Williams (ankle)

TE John Carlson (hip)
DE Chris Clemons (ankle)
DT Colin Cole (ankle)
QB Matt Hasselbeck (left wrist)
CB Roy Lewis (knee)
LB Matt McCoy (head)
LB Lofa Tatupu (knee)

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