by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - The Seattle Seahawks have the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth when the San Francisco 49ers come to town on Sunday night.
The game doesn't quite have the implications it would have had if the 49ers had lost to the New England Patriots but the game still has plenty riding on it for both teams.
The Seahawks will try to protect their 6-0 record at home this season and prove how much they've improved by knocking off one of the league's best.
The 49ers still have a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in the NFC by winning their final two games.
Head coach Pete Carroll said that with all the formations, shifts and varying personnel groups used by the 49ers, they are perhaps the most challenging team the Seahawks have had to prepare for all season.
"Yeah, that’s kind of the topic for the day," Carroll said. "It’s a very challenging team and it’s the running element, but then there’s Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, and then there’s the big fella Randy Moss out there running. This is a very talented football team and all of those guys’ present problems."
DT Alan Branch did not practice on Wednesday as he is dealing with an ankle injury suffered against the Buffalo Bills last week. Carroll said he will probably sit Thursday as well and try to return to practice on Friday. They believe Branch has a chance to make it back to play but won't know until the end of the week.
"This is not as bad an ankle as he's had," Carroll said. "He's had a history of ankle injuries and he knows it pretty well and we're encouraged that he has a chance to make it back. We'll find out."
DT Greg Scruggs will fill-in if Branch can't play with DT Clinton McDonald working in at the position as well.
CB Walter Thurmond and CB Marcus Trufant are both dealing with hamstring strains and may not be able to practice all week.
"We're working to get them on the practice field and then we'll know," Carroll said.
WR Sidney Rice did not practice with a knee injury suffered against the Buffalo Bills. Rice appeared to bang his knee in the first half on a catch down near the Buffalo goal line. It doesn't appear to be something serious, but rather something the team will have to manage so he'll be available against San Francisco.
"We might have to take care of him a little bit during the week to get him ready for game day again," Carroll said of Rice on Monday. "He played well, but he was hobbling a little bit during the game and we had to rest him a little bit to keep him throughout."
DT Jason Jones was held out of practice with a knee injury and RB Leon Washington did not practice due to an illness.
The Seahawks decided to release TE Evan Moore and promote TE Sean McGrath from the practice squad to the active roster on Tuesday. Moore saw the field for just 104 of the team's 934 offensive snaps this season (according to ProFootballFocus.com) and didn't contribute on special teams. Despite appearing in all 14 games for Seattle, Moore recorded just one catch for six yards on the season.
McGrath was with the Seahawks throughout the offseason and was released during final cuts. He is expected to contribute on special teams and, according to Carroll, has a good chance to play this week against the 49ers.
Seattle also released WR Lavasier Tuinei from the practice squad and added LB Kyle Knox and DE Monte Taylor. Both Knox and Taylor spent time with the Seahawks during the offseason.
San Francisco 49ers
Did Not Participate
LB Clark Haggans (shoulder)
DT Justin Smith (elbow)
LB Ahmad Brooks (shoulder)
CB Tarell Brown (shoulder)
LB Tarvares Gooden (ribs)
WR Mario Manningham (shoulder)
LB Aldon Smith (shoulder)
FB Bruce Miller (shoulder)
DT Will Tukuafu (concussion)
K David Akers (pelvis)
G Alex Boone (knee)
LB Navarro Bowman (shoulder)
RB Frank Gore (wrist)
G Mike Iupati (shoulder)
CB Carlos Rogers (knee)
LB Patrick Willis (shoulder)
Did Not Participate
DT Alan Branch (ankle)
DT Jason Jones (knee)
WR Sidney Rice (knee)
CB Walter Thurmond (hamstring)
CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring)
RB Leon Washington (illness)
RB Marshawn Lynch (back)