When Chris Foerster replaced George Warhop as a position coach it turns out that wasn’t the only change on the offensive line.
David Baas will start Sunday’s game against the Seahawks at left guard, replacing Adam Snyder, who started the first seven games at that spot for the 49ers this season. Baas, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2005 draft, has seen limited action this season. Baas said he continued to prepare diligently so he’d be ready when he got his chance.
“I did my part and was working very hard and showing that I was ready to play,” Baas said. “This is a great opportunity to do the things that the team needs from me. . . . I’m excited. I’m ready to roll.”
Baas has started 13 of his 51 career games after being the 49ers’ second-round pick of the first Mike Nolan-Scot McCloughan draft class. He started eight games last season at right guard after Justin Smiley’s season-ending shoulder injury/surgery.
Baas was slated to be the team’s starter at right guard this season, but those plans were derailed when he sustained a torn pectoral tendon while lifting weights in April. When he returned to action late in training camp, Tony Wragge had taken over at right guard and Snyder was entrenched at left guard.
The elevation of Baas into the starting lineup comes after the 49ers fired Warhop, who was let go the same day the 49ers fired head coach Mike Nolan. Foerster was added to the coaching staff in February to assist Warhop, who came under fire last season when the 49ers surrendered a franchise-worst 55 sacks.
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The 49ers-Seahawks is not a GPS game. It is an elimination game in the NFC West. The 49ers (2-5) and the Seahawks (1-5) need victories to have any hopes of remaining in the hunt.
Of course, it’s the head-coaching debut of 49ers interim coach Mike Singletary. The players should be fired up; the crowd at Candlestick should be excited, too.
Here are some of the key matchups for Sunday’s game, beginning with the new addition to the 49ers’ starting lineup:
LG Baas vs. DT Rocky Bernard: You know all about Bernard. He’s the 309-pounder whose belly-flop on Alex Smith changed the course of the past two seasons. Bernard does a good job clogging up the middle. Baas is a powerful player. It’s power vs. power. Bernard might not make a whole lot of tackles, but if he ties up Baas, he will make it difficult for Frank Gore to get yards up the middle.
QB J.T. O’Sullivan vs. FS Brian Russell: O’Sullivan has to do a better job of valuing the football. He has committed 12 turnovers and lost another fumble that resulted in a safety in the past four games. Russell has to feel like he can confuse O’Sullivan into some ill-advised throws. Russell does not have an interception this season, as the Seahawks have managed just one pick in the first six games. O’Sullivan threw for 321 yards when the clubs met earlier this season.
For the first time in his career, O’Sullivan is getting a second start against the same opponent. His approach:
“It’s a fine line, you’re preparing, you want to prepare as hard as you can every single week. There’s just the familiarity of a division opponent, especially when you’ve already played this season, where you might be a little bit more familiar with how they do things or what their adjustments might be but at the same time, you don’t want to go…. There’s a fine line between being almost, the wrong word is over-prepared but, you don’t want to be out there anticipating what they’re going to be in and guessing and then all of a sudden they’re not in that and now you’re allotted to that. You still have to play the game, prepare, be able to make the adjustments. You can’t be, ‘Oh, I know these guys. They’re going to be in this versus that.’ We’ll get this and then all of a sudden they’re in something else, now I’m guessing what they’re in.”
RB Frank Gore vs. MLB Lofa Tatupu: In the past five games against the Seahawks, Gore has 715 scrimmage yards (143.0 per game), including 568 rush yards (113.6 per game). He set career-highs in rush yards (212) and scrimmage yards (238) in 2006 against the Seahawks. He is coming off an 11-carry, 11-yard performance against the Giants, so it should be a priority for Mike Martz to get him going. Tatupu is the Seahawks’ second-leading tackler with 39 stops on the season.
FS Mark Roman vs. QB Seneca Wallace: Roman, the nine-year veteran, has to be able to take advantage of Wallace’s relative lack of experience. Wallace gets his second start of the season in place of injured Matt Hasselbeck. Roman has just one interception in 39 career starts since coming to the 49ers as a free agent.
LB Manny Lawson vs. TE John Carlson: Lawson did not play a snap of defense when the teams met earlier this season. The 49ers went with five defensive backs the entire game at Lawson’s expense. The 49ers figure to play the Seahawks straight-up this time. Carlson was the Seahawks’ only threat in the passing game the last time, and he had a big game. This meeting, Lawson will line up over Carlson and will be responsible for keeping the rookie in check. Carlson is the Seahawks’ leading receiver with 19 catches for 201 yards.
CBs Nate Clements and Walt Harris vs. Seahawks WRs Koren Robinson and Deion Branch (or whomever plays WR for that team): Both Robinson and Branch are on the injury report. Clements and Harris have experienced up-and-down seasons. They seem to do better against established receivers. Clements is coming off a strong showing against the Giants’ Plaxico Burress. Both 49ers corners have been susceptible to the deep ball. Robinson and Branch did not play against the 49ers when the clubs met earlier this season.
LT Joe Staley vs. OLB/DE Julian Peterson: Staley struggled at the beginning of the season, but his play has gotten better. Peterson poses a major challenge for him. Peterson ranks second on the Seahawks with three sacks. He always gets a little extra fired up to play against his former team at Candlestick. The 49ers allowed eight sacks against the Seahawks last season. Barry Sims will have a tall order on the other side against Patrick Kerney.