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Sunday, September 20, 2009
Around the NFC West: Physical battle by Bay

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune frames the Seahawks' trip to San Francisco this way: "Do you have what it takes to go to Mike Singletary's house and try to take something from him?"

Brock Huard of 710ESPN.com offers keys to the game for the Seahawks, starting with turnovers.

Also from Huard: key matchups, including one between Seattle's guards and the 49ers' tough inside linebackers. Huard: This is a difficult matchup as [Takeo] Spikes is savvy and physical and [Patrick] Willis is explosive, violent and one of the top LBs in the game; however, the 49ers like to play a base 3-4 defense and that scheme can allow space for offensive guards to get on linebackers. When Sims and Unger get those shots, they must connect and get Spikes and Willis to the ground."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times puts defense in the spotlight while previewing the Seahawks-49ers game.

Brian McIntyre of Scout.com thinks the Seahawks might be wise to call a couple more screen passes against the 49ers' active front seven.

Adam Caplan of Scout.com expects the Seahawks to bring in tackle Chris Patrick for a follow-up visit Monday.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' victory over the Cardinals hardly registered nationally. Cornerback Tarell Brown: "We haven't arrived yet. We haven't done anything yet and we understand that. We try not to read the papers or follow the news. We want to keep up that intensity. It's a long season ahead of us. We play some great teams. We have to keep on pushing."

Also from Crumpacker: Brian Billick offers thoughts on Singletary. Billick: "I had good luck bringing former players [such as Jack Del Rio, Mike Tice and Dennis Thurman] into the profession. Mike [Singletary] had to learn what it was to become a coach. He'd been away from the game for 10 years. He had to know what it meant to commit to the profession."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers need to exploit the Seahawks' run blitzes by throwing to the perimeter. Also: "The Seahawks registered 13 sacks against the 49ers in their two meetings last year. Most came with Seattle rushing just four defenders. Harassing Shaun Hill today will be a priority for the defense."

Also from Barrows: The 49ers' rush offense went from being top-ranked through the preseason to last-ranked after Week 1. Offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye: "We're going to run the ball 60 percent of the time -- that's not going to change. We're looking for that balance of run to pass and, to me, that balance isn't 50-50, it's 60-40, and it's toward the run."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider is impressed by what he sees from the Seahawks. Lynch: "These Seahawks have so much depth, particularly in their receiving corps and on their defensive line, and it also looks like they've had a whale of a draft."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' ground game must improve. Seahawks coach Jim Mora: "It’s more of a mindset than scheme. Our guys understand the challenge. They’ve played Frank Gore many, many times, and they know what he’s all about and they have tremendous respect for him."

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers will win if they consistently get 5 yards on first down.

Brad Biggs of National Football Post expects Tony Pashos to become the 49ers' starter at right tackle before long.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are "putting on blinders" heading into their game against the Redskins.

Also from Korte: Albert Haynesworth presents a tough matchup for the Rams.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gives the Rams' running game an edge against the Redskins' defense.

Also from Thomas: Rams center Jason Brown's comments about Haynesworth made it back to the Redskins this week. Brown in August: "I'm so glad we're playing Washington early in the year because it's going to be hot out there, we're going to be running hurry-up offense and he's going to get fatigued. And I'm not sure if you have watched film before, but when he gets fatigued, he taps out. He just falls down to the ground, and you're like, 'Oh my gosh, is he hurt? Is something wrong with him?' No, he's just giving the guy on the sidelines enough time to mosey on out there so he can get up, go to the sidelines, catch a breather, get something to drink and then he comes right back out."

More from Thomas: The Rams are still looking for ways to get Steven Jackson and the running game going.

More yet from Thomas: Staying upbeat is a priority for the Rams.

Turf Show Times' VanRam says the Rams face another tough tight end. After having problems with Seattle's John Carlson, the Rams face the Redskins' Chris Cooley in Week 2.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals linebacker Gerald Hayes keeps a low profile. Hayes: "I play the game because I love it. If they want to give me accolades and all that stuff and recognize me, then they do it. If they don't, I know what I can do and that's all I'm worried about."

Also from Somers: one way the Cardinals stopped the run in Week 1.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com expects more from Anquan Boldin this week.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals' success last season set high expectations for 2009, making their Week 1 defeat hurt a little more.

More from Urban: Arizona could be "dangerously thin" at outside linebacker if Chike Okeafor cannot play.

Michael C. Wright of the Florida Times-Union looks at the Cardinals' efforts to avoid what has awaited so many other Super Bowl losers. Wright: "[Ken] Whisenhunt points to turnover on the coaching staff as potentially being one of the biggest obstacles Arizona faces in avoiding a Super Bowl hangover."

Sara Cardace of the New York Post reviews John Krakauer's book about former Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. Cardace: "Although the book's narrative culminates with the exploitation of Tillman's death by a government desperate for good will in wartime, the tragic elements of Tillman's story were in place well before then."