There is no greater time than the first two weeks of September. After Labor Day weekend NFL fans know week one of the regular season is right around the corner. The 49ers will host their division rivals the Seahawks in the season opener. During week one last season the 49ers traveled to Seattle and got spanked 31-6. This season the 49ers still have Alex Smith at quarterback, *sigh*, but we now have Jim Harbaugh at head coach and with him wanting to make a big impression in his first game the 49ers will not hold back.
During the regular season Niner Noise will continue our weekly Q&A with other team sites from the Fansided.com Sports Network. With the 49ers going up against Seattle we did our Q&A with the Seahawks blog 12th Man Rising.com. Editor of the blog Keith Myers answered some of my questions below. You can see my answers over at 12th Man Rising by clicking HERE. Enjoy!
Q. Since the end of last season the Seahawks added 24 new players to the roster and have eight starters who are in their first, second or third years in the league. Will the Seahawks be able to compete with such a young roster?
Believe it or not but the Super Bowl champion Packers are significantly younger than the Seahawks. So is Tampa for that matter. I don’t think age really matters. Pete Carroll and company have worked really hard to make this team bigger, stronger and faster, and in order to do so the team has gotten a lot younger. If the coaching staff can put all that extra athleticism to use than this team can actually be much better than people think.
Q. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was one of the new additions to the roster and he has yet to prove himself in the NFL. How are Seahawks fans feeling about Jackson starting at quarterback?
In all honesty, most of them are hating the idea. There’s a very loud group of fans who are actively campaigning to get Charlie Whitehurst installed at the starter.
Jackson is really athletic and has a big arm. People forget he was a 2nd round pick and the skills that made him so are still there. The problem is that he tends to lock on to receivers and doesn’t go through his progressions. If he can make improvements in this area he has a chance to be successful, but I don’t think many fans have hope of him doing so.
Ultimately, the next franchise QB in Seattle isn’t on the roster yet.
Q. The offensive line was a big issue for the Seahawks last season. With the Seahawks selecting two offensive linemen with their first two draft picks, does the team now have a line that will protect the quarterback?
In the long run, yes. But probably not right away. Rookie linemen are prone to mistakes, and the Seahawks have 2 of them to go with 2 other linemen who each only have 1 year experience. That’s 2 total years of experience among 4 of the starting linemen. Expect the growing pains to be really tough early in the year.
On the other hand, the group is made up of players who individually are known for being very good run blockers. There’s nothing like a solid running game and a steady diet of play action to make pass protecting easier.
Q. After losing two of the teams leaders to free agency, Matt Hasselbeck and Lofa Tatupu, who will be the leaders this season for the Seahawks on offense and defense.
This is a really good question, and you forgot Lawyer Milloy in your list. Replacing all that leadership isn’t going to happen in one season. On defense Earl Thomas and Marcus Trufant will be looked to as leaders, but both are in the secondary. The front 7 will have to find a leader, but I’m not sure there is someone ready to take on that roll. If I had to guess, I’d say Brandon Mebane ends up as the defacto leader of that group.
On offense, Robert Gallery and Marshawn Lynch seem to be the guys everyone looks to. Tarvaris Jackson was elected captain, but I’m not sure how long his reign as the starting QB lasts. He’s prone to injury as well. In the end someone has to step up, or it’ll be a long season.
Q. The Seahawks won the NFC West last season with a 7-9 record. What will their record be this season? Will they win the division again?
A lot of people are picking him to finish with 4-6 wins. I think 7-8 wins is more likely. The defense is improved, as is the running game. It’ll be the QB play that holds this team back. My prediction is that the Rams will win the division with 9 wins. That’s the NFC west for ya.
Q. Who is one player on the Seahawks that is flying under the radar right now but will have a big season?
Rookie WR Doug Baldwin. It might take him a couple games to work himself in as a large part of the game plan, but I bet he replaces Ben Obomanu as the team’s 3rd WR sooner rather than later.