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49ers notes: Will Holmgren return for good?

By Matthew Barrows - mbarrows@sacbee.com

Last Updated 2:47 am PDT Saturday, September 13, 2008
Story appeared in SPORTS section, Page C3

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SANTA CLARA – It's no secret that Mike Holmgren loves San Francisco. He says as much every season before he and the Seahawks make their annual trip south.

He was born in San Francisco. He coached high school in San Francisco and San Jose. He was an assistant under Bill Walsh. He still has a home near Santa Cruz. And, well, he probably knows the 49ers better than any other opposing coach in the league.

Which is why speculation is rampant that Holmgren, who already has announced that this is his final season in Seattle, eventually will wind up with the 49ers.

Some believe he'll be the head coach. Some think he'll end up in the front office. Some say he'll do both.

What Holmgren, 60, made clear this week is that he won't make any snap decisions.

"I'm going to take some time off," he said during a conference call. " I made that promise to my family. I'm looking at it as kind of a sabbatical leave. I'm going to take some time off and see how I feel. I don't know how I'm going to react to that. But see how I feel – and make some decisions after that."

The Seahawks won't have a drawn-out coaching search. They already have decided that defensive coordinator Jim Mora, who had the same role with the 49ers from 1999 to 2003, will take over for Holmgren next season.

"The coaches are handling it well; the players are handling it well," Holmgren said. "It's a little bit of a unique situation. The reason I did it was so it wouldn't be a distraction to this team. Things are going well."

Holmgren said he had no so-called competition agreement with the Seahawks as far as where he could end up when his sabbatical is over.

Wallace at wideout? – Don't be surprised if Seattle quarterback Seneca Wallace (Rancho Cordova High School) lines up – a lot – at wide receiver Sunday. The 49ers' defensive backs certainly won't be.

Two of Seattle's top receivers, Bobby Engram and Nate Burleson, won't play, and a third, Deion Branch, is doubtful with a knee injury. The Seahawks signed two receivers off the street this week, and the injuries mean the multitalented Wallace, who had two catches for 47 yards last year, might even start the game at receiver.

"Seneca has been prepared to do both of these things for a long time," Holmgren told the Seattle media this week. "I feel pretty comfortable now. We don't have much choice."

San Francisco cornerback Walt Harris said Friday he expected Wallace to make a smooth transition.

"Actually, he understands a little bit more about what the quarterback wants for his routes," Harris said. "You can't sleep on that. When he comes in the game, obviously you want to have your thinking cap on and alert everyone to be ready."

Injuries – Center Eric Heitmann (shoulder) practiced Friday and is probable for Sunday. Cornerback Donald Strickland (knee) did not practice and is questionable.

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