SANTA CLARA Season’s greetings to all, and quite a regular-season finale awaits as the 49ers play at Seattle on Sunday night for the NFC playoffs’ No. 1 seed. Let’s set the prime-time stage through our Week 17 mailbag via my Instagram and Twitter feeds:
Does Jimmy G have the freedom to leave the pocket or has he been coached to stay put? (@jdlohse)
Garoppolos running ability has emerged nicely, in timely spots, in recent weeks. Keep in mind his left knee got rebuilt a year ago, so running is not encouraged, and Shanahan’s offense isn’t tailored for Kaepernick 2.0. Told by a reporter he looks pretty good at running and should do it more, Garoppolo responded in deadpan fashion: “Im decent at passing.”
With Kittle getting his chance to play the Seahawks this season, will he be a big factor? (@sup_swaggyp)
A better question is: Will he be the biggest factor? Kittle missed the Nov. 11 overtime loss to Seattle with knee and ankle injuries. “I see him as their best player, on a team that has a lot of highlighted guys, a lot of Nos. 1s,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Seattle’s 710-AM on Monday. “& It’s his run after the catch that is really so special. But it’s also his confidence. He really is just flying right now and he’ll be a difficult weapon to deal with.”
Do you know what Kyle Shanahan’s all-time record is against Pete Carroll since becoming an offensive coordinator? (@imost18)
Let’s start by saying Shanahan-Carroll is not on par with the animosity of Harbaugh-Carroll. Shanahan is 1-4 as 49ers coach, including last month’s overtime, home loss. As an an offensive coordinator, Shanahan went 1-1 with the 2016 Falcons, including a 36-20 divisional-playoff win, and 1-1 with Washington, including a 24-14 wild-card home loss in the 2012 playoffs.
Does it look like Dee Ford could play next week? (@AlbertRuns26)
Shanahan said Monday he’s not expecting Dee Ford returning this week from his hamstring injury, likely preserving him for the playoffs. Ford initially got hurt Nov. 11, sat two games, aggravated it four snaps into the New Orleans win Dec. 8 and has since been rehabilitating. A first-round bye would enhance Ford’s playoff worth.
If Jadeveon Clowney plays on Sunday, do the Niners plan to give Joe Staley some help after the way he got abused last time? (@Skeksis25)
Staley wasn’t at full strength as he gingerly returned from a fractured fibula, and Clowney seized on him for a breakout game (1 sack, 5 quarterback hits, forced fumble, touchdown on a fumble recovery). Clowney has missed three games since then, and Carroll expects his return this Sunday from a core-muscle injury.
How much will the Seahawks be affected by the loss of left tackle Duane Brown and running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise? (@3rdDownAgency)
Neither Russell Wilson nor Bobby Wagner are on that casualty list, so hold off on crowning the 49ers, for now. Carson’s exit is a massive blow to their rushing attack, hence Marshawn Lynch’s potentially epic encore and energy. Brown’s knee surgery means Nick Bosa could feast on his former Ohio State teammate Jamarco Jones or third-year veteran George Fant.
SEASON PASS DIGITAL OFFER
If you have not already, we strongly encourage you to sign up for a digital subscription, which gives you access to all content on the Mercury News and East Bay Times websites. With your support, we can continue bringing these stories — and much more — to your screens. Heres where to sign up for the season pass: Mercury News, East Bay Times.
Any guesses on why a healthy Matt Breida got no touches on Saturday? (@jdotmarsh)
Fumbles on back-to-back carries against the Falcons are my guess. But he also only played 12 snaps each of the previous two starts, after a three-game hiatus (ankle injury). Shanahan’s public stance: Breida’s benching against the Rams was because he simply didn’t work into a rotation with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, and because of the 49ers’ short drives.
Does it look like there’s a chance Tartt returns for Seattle? (@anniecory_)
I’d say it’s a slim chance. He hasn’t practiced since fracturing ribs at Baltimore on Dec. 1. The 49ers resume practicing Tuesday, and we’ll know his official status by Friday afternoon. Expect another dose of Marcell Harris.
The 49ers have 16 in IR and others out (Ford, Tartt, Person etc). What is comparable state of Seattle? @wgclements
The Seahawks are just as banged up, if not more so after Sunday’s injury. They have 15 on injury-related reserve lists. More injuries are coming for both teams knowing how physical their matchups historically have been in Seattle.
Favorite memory/moment of the season? Happy holidays! (@bearlychace)
That first half in New Orleans was bonkers, a great opening act for the greatest regular-season game (not just finish) I’ve seen in 20 years covering the 49ers. The best is yet to come? I’d love to know what fans’ favorite moments are, so email me or hit me on Twitter.