49ers on Wednesday: Can Jimmy Garoppolo and offense be unpredictable at Seattle?

SANTA CLARA — Running the ball 125 times during a three-game win streak explains the 49ers’ not-so-secret formula for success.

“They’re just really committed to it. It couldn’t get more obvious,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told Seattle-area reporters Wednesday in advance of hosting the 49ers on Sunday.

And yet, the 49ers (6-5) still must strive for unpredictability as a rare road favorite at Seattle (3-8).

When it comes time to dropping back in the pocket to pass, “you don’t want to get too predictable,” Jimmy Garoppolo said Wednesday.

Any “tells” been pointed out to you in your career, Jimmy?

“I haven’t. You got any for me?” Garoppolo replied.

Actually, a few years ago, upon cornerback Richard Sherman’s defection from the Seahawks to the 49ers, he volunteered to the media that Garoppolo tends to pat the ball a split second before releasing it, which isn’t uncommon among quarterbacks.

Now, when it comes to Sunday’s counterpart, Russell Wilson, a caller on SiriusXM’s NFL radio noted that Wilson would take his mouthguard out ahead of running plays during Seattle’s Monday night loss at Washington.

Scouts surely will scour to see if there is validity to that or any other tips. As Garoppolo noted: “Someone’s always watching.”

Garoppolo commended his coaches’ “good job of that balancing act” in mixing up play calls and keeping the offense in attack mode, something he said will require other guys stepping up to fill in this game for Deebo Samuel, who’ll miss it with a groin injury.

What’s worked great the past three weeks is the 49ers’ rushing attack. While rookie Elijah Mitchell rested Wednesday, Jeff Wilson Jr. led that corps through drills, and JaMycal Hasty got back in action after missing the past month with an ankle injury.

Mitchell’s 27-carry, five-catch effort in Sunday’s win over Minnesota proved how valuable the 49ers think he is. Those 32 touches were the most since Frank Gore’s 32 in 2009 against the Lions. Mitchell, and his cadre of in-synch blockers, will face a Seahawks defense bruised by 43 runs (152 yards) in Monday’s loss at Washington.

Carroll praised Mitchell’s toughness and speed, though he noted that: “Anybody that runs for them really looks good, because they have a real commitment to it. They’re running the ball a ton.”

Garoppolo has thrown only 67 passes amid the three-game win streak. He acknowledged he probably would have wanted more action if he was just breaking into the league. “As I’ve gotten older, it’s just about winning,” Garoppolo said. “In this league, that’s all it is. If you keep doing that, good things will happen to you.”

For Garoppolo, Seattle trips have offered polarizing results, from clinching the NFC’s top seed in the 2019 regular-season finale in “one of the coolest atmospheres I’ve ever played in,” to exiting with a season-ending ankle injury last November.

A calf contusion also knocked him out at halftime of this past October’s 28-21 home loss to Seattle.

Garoppolo is now enjoying an uber-efficient, five-game stretch – even more efficient than his December 2017 debut. He has a 108.8 passer rating in winning four of the past five games (93-of-135, 1,236 yards, seven touchdown passes, two interceptions).

When he won all five starts to end the 2017 season, he had a 94.0 passer rating (118-of-176, 1,542 yards, six touchdowns, five interceptions). His best five-game stretch came midway through the 2019 season (110.34 rating, 13 touchdowns, four interceptions).

HEALTH UPDATES

Not practicing because of injury are wide receiver Deebo  Samuel (groin), linebacker Fred Warner (hamstring), running back Trey Sermon (ankle), and linebackers Dre Greenlaw (groin) and Marcell Harris (concussion protocol).

Defensive end Dee Ford (back) was seen during positional warmups. The 49ers must activate him within the next two weeks or he remains on injured reserve for the season’s remainder.

Resting are defensive ends Nick Bosa (rest), running back Elijah Mitchell (rest), center Alex Mack (rest) and left tackle Trent Williams (rest).

Running back JaMycal Hasty (ankle) and defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) were cleared for limited action and could play Sunday for the first time in a month. Defensive tackle Kentavius Street (wrist) is available to practice in full.

HONORING KWAN

Coaches and staff are mourning the loss of Stan Kwan, a 49ers’ special teams assistant the previous four seasons before retiring this year. He passed away this week at age 54, reportedly from a heart attack.

“He was a great man. Great sense of humor. Had a loving spirit,” special teams coordinator Richard Hightower said in an emotional start to his press conference. “Coach (Michael) Clay and I spent more time with Kwan than anybody in this building. Kwan was a legend, he is a legend and all the players love him.

“I know he’s in a better place, and like his family said to me, I know he’s looking down smiling on all his colleagues and players. We definitely appreciate him and he was a joy to be around.”

Among those who paid tribute to him was Raheem Mostert, who morphed from a special teams ace into a starting running back. Mostert, in an Instagram story, wrote in part: “Coach Kwan was someone who believed in me, even when it felt like no one else did. He made it known, too!”

NOTES

— Veteran running back Adrian Peterson signed to the Seahawks practice squad. Peterson has no touchdowns in 125 career carries against the 49ers in six games, including a massive workload in 2017 (37 carries, 159 yards) for an Arizona Cardinals win. He averaged three yards per carry in three games for the Tennessee Titans last month. Peterson and 49ers left tackle Trent Williams are former Washington teammates and they co-own a Houston gym.

— Wide receiver Devin Funchess’ practice-squad stint was short-lived as he got placed on injured reserve. Linebacker Justin March and safety Doug Middleton were signed the practice squad and safety Kai Nacua was released from it.

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