Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 9/11/13
It’s a showdown home opener The Seattle Seahawks dispatched the Carolina Panthers in week 1 but it was not exactly an easy win for them. The game was much closer than I expected. Some of things that happened in that game, such as the Seahawks struggling with their usually strong running game, made me come up with these 5 questions that need to be answered with a resounding “Yes” for the Seahawks to come up with a big, home opener win against public enemy #1, the San Francisco 49ers. Can the Seahawks establish a ground game? You probably guessed this one based on my opener but it’s valid none the less. The Seahawks struggled on the ground in week 1 against Carolina.  How much of Marshawn Lynch ‘s lack of room was due to the absence of Michael Robinson?  Is it an offensive line problem? I tend to favor the offensive line theory.  Tom Cable needs to get this sorted out and fast.  It’s certainly not going to be an easier week going against Justin Smith and company. Can the offensive line give Russell Wilson time to throw the ball. Wilson needs a bit more time to really flex his strengths. Russell Wilson had good numbers against Carolina and threw the ball well overall but he was under near constant duress.  A couple of times he narrowly avoided an interception and also had an intentional grounding penalty. Again, it’s something Tom Cable needs to look closely at and the task is tougher against San Francisco.  More designed rollouts helped the Seahawks in the 2nd half against Carolina.  Expect to see this more against SF this week. Strangely, nearly completely absent was the read option.  I realize Seattle doesn’t run it as much as some of the other teams with QB’s that are capable but it all but disappeared last week.  Darrell Bevell needs to mix this in a few more times to buy time for his QB and to help the running game. Can the Seahawks’ secondary cover Anquan Boldin? In case you missed the 49ers first game, Boldin was a nightmare for the Green Bay secondary, which was surprising to me because San Francisco doesn’t have another really good wide receiver.  208 yards, 9 first downs and  1 touchdown is not something Seattle can afford to let any one player for 49ers to have. Seattle does have a MUCH better secondary than Green Bay though.  I just don’t see Boldin running like a wildebeest against Richard Sherman the way he did last week.  A healthy, starting Brandon Browner would be most helpful too and I think we’ll see that. Can the Seahawks defensive line contain Colin Kaepernick? I hate admitting this but Kaepernick is the real deal. On a day where Green Bay thought they’d see a steady dose of his legs he promptly went out and threw for over 400 yards. The good news for Seattle is that I think Colin won’t have near that much success throwing the ball into the Legion of Boom.  The bad news is Jim Harbaugh knows that too and is probably going to try and run Kaepernick more against our injury plagued defensive line. Who is healthy and can play will largely determine Seattle’s fate on this question. Will the Hawks be able to contain Kaep? (USA Today Sports) Cliff Avril is practicing this week as is Chris Clemons.  Jordan Hill I think is going to be out for another week and of course Bruce Irvin still has this game and 2 more on his suspension. Avril and Clemons together might be enough to contain Kaepernick.  They don’t even need to get sacks, just make Kaepernick stay in the pocket and force him to take his chances against our secondary. Can the defensive line stop Frank Gore? Tied with the last question is this one; you simply can’t forget about Gore.  He seems to just keep going and Frank is the option when the 49ers run the read option.  Seattle needs to be aware of him and contain him just like they need to with Kaepernick. Avril and Clemons are both Leo, DE, rushers. If they are both healthy and line up opposite of one other Seattle has a chance to bottle this up. Look for SF to go up the middle if both of them are on the field at the same time and lined up at either end of the D line. This game is probably not going to be another defensive struggle.  Green Bay did a good job moving the ball through the air against SF and I think Seattle will easily have success there too. The Seattle D can stop the pass but will be tested big time on the ground this week. It’s going to be a shootout, but Seattle is at home.  The 12th man is for real and they have proved it time and again.  Kaepernick won’t be as intimidated in front of Seattle’s crowd this time however. Prediction: Seattle 45, San Francisco 35.
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