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Monday, November 12, 2007
Salisbury: Seattle's passing game will trump Niners run

By Sean Salisbury
ESPN

Every Monday, ESPN football analyst Sean Salisbury provides his picks and keys to the game for ESPN PlayCaller. Want to put Sean's advice to work? Think you know better? Join now and let's see what you've got.

div class="subhead">Predictions

Quarterback with most passing yards: Matt Hasselbeck
The Seahawks will throw the ball all night long. They don't have a solid running game at this point in the season and will rely heavily on the pass.

Quarterback with most touchdown passes: Matt Hasselbeck
Matt Hasselbeck is the better quarterback right now and can still pick his team up and carry it if need be. On the other side of the ball, the 49ers will run, run, run, giving Hasselbeck more opportunities to throw for touchdowns.

Running back with most yards: Frank Gore
The only shot the 49ers have is to establish the run with Frank Gore. They will pound him all night long, which will give him the most yards in tonight's game.

Running back with most touchdowns: Maurice Morris
With Shaun Alexander either out or limited, the Seahawks, once down in the red zone, will give Maurice Morris enough touches to get him a couple of touchdowns.

Wide receiver with the most receiving yards? Bobby Engram
It may be Engram or it may be Deion Branch, but someone on Seattle will have a 100-yard receiving night and lead in that category. Don't be surprised if it's not Branch who takes that honor tonight.

Most field goals: Josh Brown
Joe Nedney won't get the opportunities that Josh Brown will get tonight and by virtual default Brown will end up with the most field goals.

Which player will score the first touchdown? Maurice Morris
The Seahawks will establish the pass early on but pound it in with a run by Maurice Morris for tonight's first touchdown.

Which team will score the first touchdown: Seattle Seahawks
The 49ers' offense has been anemic all year long and that trend will continue tonight. I expect, as I have said, that the Seahawks will establish the pass and finish with the run. But in any regard, they will most likely score first and second.

Keys to the game for the Seahawks

  1. Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball

    Shaun Alexander looks like he's tiptoeing around and the Seahawks just haven't been able to establish the run.

  2. Stop the run
    On defense, it's just the opposite: Stop Frank Gore and the run and you stop the 49ers. Alex Smith has had a tough start to the 2007 campaign and the pass game is not there. Hit Gore in the mouth and contain the run.

  3. Re-establish confidence
    The Seahawks need a fast start. They can't afford to let the 49ers gain their own confidence and hang around in this game.

Keys to the game for the 49ers

  1. Alex Smith must play a good football game.
    I know he's been hurt but he's back in the lineup tonight and he needs to play a better game.

  2. Running game must be dominant
    Frank Gore must control the ball on the offensive side and the defense must stop the run on the defensive side. Gore has had a tough season but tonight he needs some of last year's form if the 49ers are to have a shot.

  3. Cover the receivers
    With Deion Branch back in the lineup, the Seahawks are going to throw it. So the final key for the 49ers tonight is to stop the passing game and cover downfield. The Seahawks are going to start throwing in pregame warmups, so the corners better be ready.

In the end the Seahawks will take the game by a score resembling 31-10. They are a better team and tonight that will translate into victory.

Sean Salisbury is an NFL analyst for ESPN