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49ers

49ers Offense, Seahawks Defense Slightly Undermanned For NFC West Showdown

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By Jerrell Richardson

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 02: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks looks on in the huddle against the New Orleans Saints during a game at CenturyLink Field on December 2, 2013 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

(Credit, Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

When the NFC West’s two best teams meet on Sunday, injuries will come into play. Neither team is suffering from more than a few hurt starters though, so the missing players shouldn’t tip the scale too far in either direction. The good news is that, as a team, the 49ers are as healthy as they have been all year. The bad news is that the one player, who has been unable to practice this week, is a big one. On the other sideline, Seattle has two defensive starters who have been grounded this week, leaving some big holes on both sides.   

From Bad to Better

For a team looking to end a two-game skid against the Seahawks, the last thing the 49ers needed was to have their offensive line banged up. This week started off badly enough with the entire left side of the San Francisco offensive line out, but things have only gotten better as the week has progressed. While guard Mike Iupati has not still practiced, tackle Joe Staley made his way back to the practice field Thursday. While both are still a possibility to play, when the team takes the field on Sunday, expect Staley on the field and Iupati in street clothes.  

If Iupati sits, the team will turn to Adam Snyder, who has received high praise from the coaches for his play since filling in. There is a reason he was the backup and not the starter though, as the running game has taken a step back in the weeks since Iupati’s injury. This week, more than any other this season, San Francisco’s success will be predicated on them running the ball. They are facing the NFL’s top ranked pass defense, meaning they will need an Iupati-like game from Snyder if he is called into action.

Outside of Iupati and a gimpy Staley, San Francisco is good to go. Ray McDonald and Tarell Brown highlight those limited in practice who, if needed, will be available come game time.  

San Francisco 49ers

Did Not Participate In Practice:

  • Mike Iupati (Guard): Knee

Limited In Practice:

  • Jon Baldwin (Wide Receiver): Calf
  • Tarell Brown (Cornerback): Ribs
  • Mario Manningham (Wide Receiver): Knee
  • Vance McDonald (Tight End): Ankle
  • Dan Skuta (Linebacker): Foot
  • Joe Staley (Tackle): Knee

Full Participation In Practice:

  • Navorro Bowman (Linebacker): Wrist
  • Garrett Celek (Tight End): Hamstring
  • Frank Gore (Running Back): Ankle
  • Ray McDonald (Defensive Tackle): Ankle
  • Aldon Smith (Linebacker): Shoulder
  • Justin Smith (Defensive Tackle): Shoulder

Seattle: Two Big Question Marks

The Seahawks also have a short injured list, but saw two important players unable to practice at all Thursday. Cornerback Brandon Browner is dealing with a groin issue, and after practicing Wednesday sat out all activities Thursday. Even if he is on the field, he is clearly not 100 percent. This means that with or without Browner, the Seahawks secondary will be without its second best player playing like he is capable. This could come into play with the multiple receiving threats the 49ers now possess.

Up front, Seattle’s defense figures to be without defensive end Bruce Irvin. His thigh injury has kept him out of practice all week, and like Browner, even if able to give it a go, will not be playing up to his normal standards. Percy Harvin is the only other Seahawk who missed practice and as he has not played much this season; his absence will have little effect on Seattle’s offense.

Pretty Much Even

It’s interesting that it’s the 49er offense and the Seahawk defense that appear to be without at least one starter. It’s fitting, as it’s this battle that will ultimately decide the outcome of the game, and it’s just about even. Due to the importance of this rivalry game, all players will want to play, most will try, and when the final whistle blows neither side will point to injuries as a reason for a win or loss. The winner of this one will earn it fair and square, and be lucky to have a similar sparse list of their walking wounded next week.

Seattle Seahawks

Did Not Participate In Practice:

  • Brandon Browner (Cornerback): Groin
  • Percy Harvin (Wide Receiver): Hip
  • Bruce Irvin (Defensive End): Thigh
  • Tarvaris Jackson (Quarterback): Illness

Limited In Practice:

  • Kellen Davis (Tight End): Neck

Full Participation In Practice:

  • Golden Tate (Wide Receiver): Hip

For more 49ers news and updates, visit 49ers Central.

Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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