RENTON — This much is certain: San Francisco will face a much different quarterback leading a more dynamic offense when Russell Wilson and the Seahawks host the 49ers on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
The first time Seattle battled the NFC West Division-leading Niners, in mid-October, Wilson finished with a season low in completions (nine) and passing yards (122).
Seattle’s No. 1 receiver, Sidney Rice, also had a bad day, totaling just two catches for 32 yards. Rice was targeted four times in a close, 13-6 loss in which Seattle receivers had five critical drops.
At one point, Rice threw his mouthpiece in disgust after Wilson was intercepted while forcing the ball to Braylon Edwards, who was triple-covered.
But since that Week 7 loss, the Seahawks have made a more concerted effort to get the playmaking Rice more involved in the offense — with good results.
In the past seven games, Rice has 27 receptions for 422 yards and five touchdowns, becoming the big-play threat the Seahawks were looking for when they signed him to a lucrative deal as an unrestricted agent during the 2010 offseason.
Wilson has developed a better rapport with Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller and the rest of Seattle’s receiving threats, throwing more passes in rhythm and doing a better job of anticipating when players are coming out of their breaks.
“Things have slowed down for him some,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of Wilson. “He’s much more comfortable with situational football — red zone, he’s better at because he has had repetition running the offense. Third downs, he has been more consistent lately.
“I think he’s way more comfortable throwing the ball to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Zach Miller primarily, with Anthony McCoy getting in there as well. I just think he’s better and more comfortable.”
Since the October loss at San Francisco, Wilson has completed 108 of 178 passes (60.7 percent) for 1,467 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions.
So it’s no surprise the Seahawks have won five of their last seven games.
“When you play a great team like San Francisco, you’re going to have to be efficient,” Wilson said. “You’re going to have to be consistent with the football. You’re going to have to salvage plays when they’re not there — don’t force anything.
“So in terms of our offense growing, we’ve grown a lot. And I know I’ve grown a lot, and continue to improve every week. I think that’s the challenge for me. Every day I come to work, to just try and learn something new. Try to fix three things. That’s what I do every day, try and find three things that I can improve at.”
TE MOORE CUT
The Seahawks released tight end Evan Moore on Tuesday and signed tight end Sean McGrath from the practice squad to fill Moore’s spot on the active roster.
Seattle signed Moore, 27, on Sept. 2, after surprisingly releasing Kellen Winslow Jr. during final roster cuts. Moore spent his first three seasons in Cleveland but was released by the Browns before this year’s regular season started.
For Seattle, Moore did not develop into the pass-catching tight end the team was looking for. He played in 14 games with one start, recording one catch for 6 yards.
McGrath, 25, signed with Seattle as an undrafted rookie free agent from Henderson State (Ark.), and spent the first 15 weeks of the season on the team’s practice squad.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams