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Mora takes 49ers game in stride

Seahawks coach has deep ties to Bay Area

Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora said playing the San Francisco 49ers won’t affect his emotions.  (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora said playing the San Francisco 49ers won’t affect his emotions. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
John Boyle Everett Herald

RENTON, Wash. – Jim Mora said this weekend’s game in San Francisco won’t be any different than any of the others he has coached in his career.

Any emotion about playing the 49ers, the team with which Mora has spent more years than any during his career, came out when he went to San Francisco as the head coach of the Falcons five years ago.

“That was kind of the peak of the emotional part for me,” Mora said. “Now it’s just a game against a divisional opponent that we’re going to try to win.”

But in going back to San Francisco, where he served as the 49ers secondary coach in 1997 and 1998 and as defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2003, Mora will be heading back to the place that shaped him as a coach perhaps more than any of the other NFL jobs he has held.

Mora won’t be the only person on the Seahawks’ sideline grateful for the time he spent in San Francisco. Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp broke into the NFL as an assistant in San Francisco, and was the 49ers offensive coordinator for three years before going to Atlanta to do the same job under Mora.

“We were lucky to be around some great people in this business, starting with Bill Walsh, John McVay, Bill McPherson, who was a long-time coach there,” Mora said.

One bit of Walsh advice has shown through early in Mora’s Seattle career. When Ken Lucas was signed as a free agent, Mora didn’t say there would be competition at cornerback between Lucas and Josh Wilson, he just named Lucas the starter. When the Seahawks made Aaron Curry the No. 4 overall pick, Curry joined the starting lineup almost as soon as he signed.

Walsh taught Mora that lesson eight years ago.

“When we drafted Andre Carter in the first round to play defensive end, I was the defensive coordinator, and in the first practice I had him as the backup,” Mora said. “And he called me in his office and he said, ‘Why do you have Andre as a backup?’ I said, ‘Well, we’ve got to make him earn that spot.’ He said, ‘We drafted him (seventh). He’s earned it. Put him in there now. Let the guys get used to having him in the huddle.”

Hill’s injury worse

When Leroy Hill walked off the field and into the locker room during the first quarter of Sunday’s win over St. Louis, the Seahawks hoped the linebacker only had a minor injury.

But the latest news on Hill is that the Seahawks will be without him for a good portion of the season.

“We did more tests and had more opinions, and it appears he has a pretty significant groin injury, so he is going to be out until after the bye,” Mora said. “So that’s a blow.”

Mora said Hill’s injury could require surgery.

The Seahawks’ bye is after their sixth game, meaning Hill’s targeted return is the Nov. 1 game at Dallas.

Will Herring will start at linebacker with Hill out. The Seahawks also signed D.D. Lewis this week to provide depth at the positions.

Jones nears return

Left tackle Walter Jones was in uniform during practice, but did not participate in team drills. Mora said he anticipates getting Jones back in practice this week, but that he doesn’t know yet if Jones will play this weekend.

Center Chris Spencer (quadriceps) could return to practice this week, as could receiver Deion Branch (hamstring), though neither practiced Wednesday.

Also out were receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh (back spasms) and CB Travis Fisher (hamstring).

Wear Bing, not bling

The NFL approved the wearing of advertisements on practice jerseys this season. On Wednesday the Seahawks practiced with the logo for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, on the front of their jerseys.

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