I had the chance to ask five questions with Seattle Seahawks Examiner Chris Cluff about Sunday night's game against the 49ers. Here are some questions and answers from the opposition:
Christian Gin: How have the Seahawks handled the suspension to Bruce Irvin and the injuries to Cliff Avril and Chris Clemons? If both defensive linemen are out, who starts in their places and what is expected of them?
Chris Cluff: [It has been] tough with the top three pass rushers out. O'Brien Schofield, a pickup from Arizona this year, started at LEO (Seattle's pass rush spot) against Carolina and had a sack on Cam Newton. Cliff Avril is expected back, but I would still expect Schofield to start again. The pass rush overall was not very consistent against Newton. The Hawks also are missing rookie tackle Jordan Hill (biceps), who is expected to help with the inside rush once he returns. So they are definitely shorthanded there.
CG: How has 2nd year LB Bobby Wagner impacted this team?
CC: Wagner was spectacular last season, setting a team rookie record with 140 tackles. He is expected to take the next step this season, become better in coverage and continue to use his great instincts to lead the run defense.
CG: Since the Seahawks drafted RBs Robert Turbin and Christine Michael in back to back drafts, what is expected from them for this season?
CC: Turbin is running second team behind Marshawn Lynch. The Hawks did not run the ball well in the opener at Carolina, but Turbin had a 15-yard run in the fourth quarter to help the Hawks run out the clock on their 12-7 win. Michael was considered an option to return kicks, but Jermaine Kearse has that role for now, leaving Michael on the bench.
CG: Name a player that is under the radar where no one notices him but he deserves recognition.
CC: Jon Ryan has been one of the top three punters in the NFC for the past 4-5 years. He had a monster game at Carolina, flipping field position in the first half with kicks of 69 and 55 yards and dropping another one at the 10. He is a major weapon and has not made the Pro Bowl yet only because of the 49ers' Andy Lee and the Saints' Thomas Morstead.
CG: What is your prediction and expectations for this game on Sunday Night?
CC: I expect special teams and turnovers to decide this game. Both teams will run the ball and get some plays from their dynamic quarterbacks. But points are likely to be at a premium and the team that creates great field position on special teams and with turnovers will win. That is what the Hawks did last year when Richard Sherman returned a blocked field goal 90 yards for a TD and then picked off Kaepernick in the end zone. In Seattle, the Hawks are likely to get more of those plays. Score prediction: Seahawks 24, 49ers 17
Chris Cluff is the Seattle Seahawks examiner and his Twitter can be found here. https://twitter.com/CHawksExaminer