OkungLeft tackle Russell Okung will not play against the 49ers, coach Pete Carroll said. The job will fall to Tyler Polumbus, an eight-game starter for Denver last season, or Chester Pitts, who hasn't played in a game since suffering a knee injury in Week 2 last season. Expect the Seahawks to adjust their game plan as they match up against Justin Smith and the 49ers' outside pass-rushers. Pitts began practicing only recently. He's sound fundamentally, but throwing him onto the field against Smith this early in Pitts' return seems risky. Seattle heads into the 2010 season with issues at tackle, same as last season. Okung will change that for the long term, but that will not help Sunday.
Assistant offensive line coach Art Valero is taking the lead in coaching the position following Alex Gibbs' abrupt resignation. The newly hired Pat Ruel is still learning the Seahawks' personnel and playbook. Ruel was about to go to sleep Friday night when Carroll called to offer him a job. Ruel was preparing to help coach a scrimmage the next morning as part of his job with the Omaha Nighthawks. As for sizing up the 49ers? "I was up watching them last night," Ruel said. "I know a little too much already. They are very good up front."
Carroll said the massive roster changes of the past few days were part of the plan all along. He also said the changes don't affect the team's preparations for the 49ers because the team has been game-planning for months. All the shuffling has to come at a short-term price, however, particularly against a 49ers team that has largely been together for the past two or three seasons. The 49ers have had defensive philosophical continuity since 2005 -- a very long time ago in NFL terms, as Seahawks fans know too well.
Justin Forsett will start at running back for the Seahawks, as expected. Carroll said it wasn't clear which back will get the most carries. Julius Jones, who kept his roster spot by accepting a pay reduction, said he "got a lot of phone calls and text messages" over the weekend, but wasn't frustrated by confusion over his employment status.
Receiver Mike Williams let a few smiles slip through during a post-practice interview. He seemed determined to project earnestness, though. Williams' journey from first-round bust to potential Week 1 starter qualifies as an improbable story, but that first-round bust status isn't gone for good. Williams must produce and he knows it, particularly after the team released receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. "I didn't know if I was going to be here," Williams said. "It's a good feeling, but it's just a feeling. I still have to go out every week and prove that I'm worth it."
Carroll is projecting a business-as-usual feel, and that is expected. There's no advantage to acknowledging the effects of roster turnover before the first game. The storyline will be there all season, however, and its effects should be most pronounced early in the season.