I will wrap up the Rams game with a single notes piece today and then highlight a few plays the Seahawks might use against the 49ers tomorrow. It's a whole new playbook for me too, so sorry if this has dragged, but I am getting used to the formations, timing and logic behind Greg Knapp and Gus Bradley's play calls.
The news today is mostly good. T.J Houshmandzadeh is probable, and as the key component to Seattle's passing attack behind Matt Hasselbeck, his health is paramount. Deion Branch is questionable. The company line is that Branch will play when Jim Mora can feel confident that doing so won't risk further injury. I like that thinking, but with Branch, a quick-healer but a player whose body has fallen apart on him the last couple years, that could mean he never plays again.
I respect the 49ers defense. I began respecting them the second they fired Mike Nolan. It's impressive collection of talent, but Nolan struggled with power. He got too cute and undermined his talent. Seattle could struggle to run the ball, so it will need a strong passing attack to pull away. That, or some timely turnovers by the defense.
Brandon Mebane and Lofa Tatupu are the notables on defense. Short term, I do not fear either missing action on Sunday. That should sound curious, as I am a staunch defender of Tatupu and live under Mebane's house so we're never far away. I am not too concerned, because neither injury sounds serious, I don't believe San Francisco is capable of a good offense with the talent and scheme they are running, but most importantly, I am not concerned because Seattle is stacked at middle linebacker and defensive tackle.
David Hawthorne would sub for Tatupu. Over the course of a season, that's a huge downgrade. Hawthorne is nowhere near Tatupu's equal as a pass defender. But coaches struggle to make lightning adjustments and that weakness would not likely be exposed in one game. Hawthorne isn't far from Tatupu as a run stopper or blitzer. Not far enough for it cripple Seattle's defense, anyway.
If Craig Terrill subs for Mebane, there's trouble. Terrill is not a bad football players. Terrill is an incredibly limited football player that should not start. Red Bryant should assume Mebane's spot. He isn't Terrill's equal as a one-gap penetrator or pass rusher, but he is better rounded and a better starter. Seattle would be huge in the middle, and what was lost from interior pressure could be supplemented with stunts and "A" gap blitzes.
In order of how likely I think each is to play, I would list Seattle's walking wounded: Housh, Tatupu, Mebane, Branch, and Travis Fisher, with Chris Spencer and Walter Jones tied for no effing chance.