SANTA CLARA (AP) — The 49ers have gone through one of their most dramatic transformations in recent memory. With it, they hope to wash away the stain of their last six trips to Seattle.
San Francisco hasn’t beaten the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field since Dec. 2011, when Alex Smith was under center and Jim Harbaugh was coach. The 49ers lost subsequent games in by an average of 18 points.
New coach Kyle Shanahan, the third coach removed from Harbaugh, will take his club there for the first time Sunday. The Niners scored just three points in the season-opening loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer has never faced the Seahawks throughout his nine pro seasons.
“I just expect what everybody says here who’s played there. It’s loud. Obviously it’s what it’s known for,” Hoyer said. “The bigger task is their defense. Obviously, the crowd has a lot to do with it, but when you just line up and look at their defense and their scheme, it’s a tough thing to go against.”
Coach Pete Carroll’s defense is littered with All-Pros and Pro Bowl players. Pass rusher Michael Bennett, cornerback Richard Sherman, linebacker Bobby Wagner and free safety Earl Thomas all are outstanding.
Seattle also added former Jets standout Sheldon Richardson to the defensive line in a trade before the regular season.
Although Carroll hasn’t gone against Hoyer before, he’s admired his work from afar.
“Certainly (we’ve) seen him over the years and know the style of player and the technician that he is,” Carroll said. “He’s a really savvy, smart guy. He runs the scheme just like the coaches want him to. That’s why he’s been a coach’s favorite for a long time.”
The 49ers managed just 217 yards in the opener against Carolina and are still looking for their first touchdown. Hoyer was sacked four times while he completed 24 of 35 for 193 yards. He fumbled once and threw an interception on the first drive of the second half of the 23-3 defeat.
Sunday will be the Seahawks’ home opener after falling in Green Bay 17-9. They also failed to get in the end zone, gaining 225 yards while going 3 of 12 on third down.
Both teams have dealt with struggling offensive lines. Hoyer was pressured throughout the opener by Carolina’s talented defensive front. That isn’t likely to change against the imposing Seahawks. The 49ers will continue without 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett, who went on injured reserve following knee surgery.
“You just keep playing. That’s the NFL. I still feel just as confident about them now as I did last week,” Hoyer said.
San Francisco on Aug. 31 traded for Lions guard Laken Tomlinson, who might make a push this week to start Sunday over left guard Zane Beadles. Said Shanahan: “We’re working Laken in more. This is his second week here, so he’s getting a little bit more reps. We’ll see how he handles it and how it plays out.”
NOTES: The status of starting free safety Jimmie Ward remains uncertain as he works back from a hamstring injury suffered in late July. Ward was listed as a limited participant in practice and has progressed a little more during each session over the last two weeks, Shanahan said.
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