Four areas Seahawks must improve

RENTON, Wash. -- Four things the Seattle Seahawks must do better Sunday than they did in the 12-7 victory at Carolina last weekend if they hope to beat the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field:

Get Lynch going: Running back Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor at Carolina, rushing for only 43 yards on 17 carries. The Seahawks had a total of 70 yards rushing on 26 carries. Quarterback Russell Wilson still was able to throw for 320 yards and lead the team to a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, but a one-dimensional attack will not work against the 49ers defense. Lynch rushed for over 100 yards in both games against San Francisco last year. He doesn’t have to reach 100 yards Sunday, but the Seahawks have to establish a running game. Seattle is a power-running team first and foremost, which sets up all the other things the team wants to do throwing the ball.

Pressure quarterback Colin Kaepernick: Seattle had only one sack against quarterback Cam Newton last week, but did a decent job containing him and keeping him from running much. However, the Seahawks defensive front has to put more pressure on Kaepernick than it did on Newton. Getting defensive end Cliff Avril on the field for the first time should help. Avril is expected to play after missing the opener with a hamstring injury. Defensive end Chris Clemons (recovering from offseason ACL surgery) also practiced this week and his return would be a huge bonus, but that still may be a week away.

Better blocking up front: Wilson was sacked twice, but it easily could have been four or five times if not for his ability to scramble and extend plays. He was running from Carolina defenders most of the day. The Seahawks offensive line has to step up its performance from the way it played against the Panthers. The run blocking was pitiful and the pass protection was weak. A similar effort Sunday will doom the Seahawks.

Fewer careless penalties: This is an ongoing problem area for the Seahawks. It was a little better at Carolina (nine penalties for 99) but not good enough. Seattle can’t give a team like San Francisco a free 100 yards of field position and expect to win. And it won’t be easy cutting down on this number in a game where emotions will be sky-high and tempers will flare with a lot of pushing, shoving and jawing after plays. Just one inexcusable personal foul at a critical moment could be the difference in a game with two strong teams so evenly matched.