A look at the three keys in the Seahawks-49ers matchup

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Does Rawls’ return mean running game returns?

Maybe Pete Carroll would have been vague anyway. Or maybe he just wants to see Thomas Rawls get back on the field before beginning to talk much about how the running back rotation will come together now that Seattle again has a full backfield.

Regardless, Carroll this week skillfully evaded the topic of who starts and how the rotation might work. He can hope that the running backs will prove just as elusive when confronting tacklers Sunday against San Francisco. Rawls had been projected to be the starter before suffering an ankle sprain in the exhibition opener and remains listed atop the depth chart, leading to the assumption he’ll get the first snap Sunday.

Eddie Lacy started last week but had 3 yards on five carries while rookie Chris Carson came on to gain 39 on six carries, including 30 on one play.

The Seahawks also want to continue to find ways to get C.J. Prosise on the field.

“It’s a good problem to have,’’ said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell,proving equally hard to pin down about how it will all come together. What they mostly want is for a running game of some kind to materialize after the Seahawks gained just 90 yards last week, with 40 coming on two scrambles by Russell Wilson.

Keeping eyes on the prize

Kyle Shanahan may be in his first year as the head coach of the 49ers but the Seahawks know him well. He was the offensive coordinator for an Atlanta team that last year put up a combined 60 points on Seattle in two games (a 26-24 regular season Seattle win and a 36-20 divisional playoff defeat).

The 49ers scored just three points last week in the opener against Carolina. But the Seahawks say they know Shanahan’s offense can create big plays if they allow themselves to get confused by any of the array of motions and formations the 49ers are sure to throw at them.

“I think the biggest thing is you have to check out the final formation because they are going to do a lot of things to mess with your eyes and mess with your discipline,’’ middle linebacker Bobby Wagner said.

“But eventually the guys motioning and the guys moving, they have to stop and when they stop, it’s can you take a picture of that final formation and see what they like to do out of that formation? … Obviously, they are going to put some new plays in, they are going to put a little bit more shifts and motions like that, but I think our eyes will be great.”

Make big plays count

The Seahawks last week couldn’t make the big plays when they needed them and they couldn’t make the big plays they did make pay off. Not only was Nazair Jones’ apparent interception return for a touchdown called back but Seattle then went three-and-out after starting the ensuing series on the 50 and had to punt from the Green Bay 42.

Seattle also went three-and-out after Tyler Lockett returned the opening kickoff to the Seahawks’ 39-yard line.

And the Seahawks also couldn’t convert with touchdowns on the only two drives (of 10) that it got into the red zone.

Those series were emblematic of what was a miserable day on third down as the Seahawks converted just three of 12.

And while the Seahawks’ defense was hardly to blame for what happened it wasn’t totally blameless — the Packers converted nine of 16 third downs for the game.