NFC West Clash: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Seattle Seahawks feel already like a bird winged by a hunter’s rifle entering the 2011 season. They started out soaring, as fan optimism grew following some intriguing offseason moves. But the preseason wasn’t kind to this team, which appears to be hurtling toward Earth before even playing a regular-season game.
What will Week 1 bring as the Seahawks fly south to the Bay Area?
Sunday, September 11, 4:15 p.m. ET
Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
Favorite: 49ers -5.5
Holler for David Garrard all you want, Seahawk Nation; we’re stuck with Tarvaris Jackson.
He looked nothing like a starting quarterback in the preseason, even outplayed by backup Charlie Whitehurst, but Pete Carroll is giving Jackson his shot at the starting job.
We can only hope he taps back into the ability he flashed as a Minnesota Viking. Remember the three-game stretch in December 2008 when Jackson threw seven touchdown passes versus one interception and helped Minnesota to two victories?
Part of the problem is now is that Jackson has a far worse team around him. The Seahawks’ offensive line has emerged as a consensus pick for the worst in the NFC West and probably the worst in the whole NFC. These guys just don’t have any experience.
Jackson had Adrian Peterson to keep defenses honest in Minnesota; he gets Marshawn Lynch in Seattle. As much as you may love Beast Mode, that’s a major downgrade.
The 49ers aren’t exactly looking great entering 2011, either. Their fans also want David Garrard, as Alex Smith has worn out his welcome as the starting quarterback. Still, it looks like the Niners are in better position to win this week than the Seahawks are.
For one, they’re at home and hungry for revenge. Seattle humiliated them 31-6 in Week 1 at CenturyLink Field last season.
San Fran’s “D,” led by Patrick Willis, already smells blood, knowing the state of Seattle’s line, and will try to fluster the potentially jittery Jackson.
Even though Smith is no prize, he at least has a rapport with Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and other pass-catching options.
He’s much more likely than Jackson to be poised and comfortable, especially at home.
Anything can happen in the NFC West, as the Seahawks showed last year, but the signs suggest they could be in for an opening-week drubbing at San Francisco.