Seahawks bring back top RB Kenneth Walker III against 49ers

RENTON, Wash. — The Seattle Seahawks are retrieving leading rusher Kenneth Walker III from his ankle injury for Thursday night’s NFC West showdown with the San Francisco 49ers at Lumen Field.

He had no game designation on their final injury report, indicating he is expected to play.

Walker missed the Seahawks’ loss to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday and the second half of their win over the Los Angeles Rams the week before after pinching his ankle.

Coach Pete Carroll wouldn’t explain Walker would be playing the 49ers when he met with reporters Wednesday afternoon, but he said the rookie second-round pick “closed the week well” in practice.

The Seahawks rated Walker as a limited participant Monday when they held a walkabout and listed him as a full participant on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“He did really well,” said Carroll. “I was really happy and he looked really quick here.”

The Seahawks list one of Walker’s backups, DeeJay Dallas, as questionable with an ankle injury of his own. Defensive tackle Al Woods, safety Ryan Neal, backup cornerback Tre Brown and backup safety Joey Blount are also in question. Dallas, Woods and Neal were listed as non-participants throughout the week.

Walker leads all rookies with nine rushing touchdowns and ranks second with 449 rushing yards (4.7 yards average). The Seahawks’ running game has been held to under 70 yards in three of the team’s last four games, including just 46 against the Panthers while Walker and Dallas were both rested.

Seattle’s running defense was also problematic, allowing for at least 150 rushing yards in four straight games. One of the Seahawks’ best defensemen, Woods missed the second half against Carolina after injuring his Achilles tendon while Neal played with a knee injury. Carroll said Wednesday that he would like newly acquired safety Johnathan Abram to play more than the four defensive snaps he had in the Panthers’ game.

The 49ers have ruled out star receiver Deebo Samuel and listed quarterback Brock Purdy as questionable. Veteran quarterback Josh Johnson, who was signed by the 49ers after Jimmy Garoppolo injured his foot, would start if Purdy misses the game. The Seahawks invited Johnson to a free agent visit in 2018.

“We got him through and Josh was everywhere,” Carroll said. “We’ve seen him play for a number of teams. He’s always been a really accomplished vet. He’s a great boy, really an addition to your program. So if they go that route, he’ll rely on his experience and he’ll play really smart and lead this team well, I’m sure.”

After losing three of their last four, the Seahawks are two games behind the 49ers in the NFC West and are also behind the Washington Commanders and New York Giants in the race for a wildcard spot.

They need to win on Thursday night to keep any hope of winning the division alive. The 49ers beat the Seahawks 27-7 in Week 2 and a win will take them to the NFC West Division title.

“These guys happen to be number one…in our division and they’re playing great,” Carroll said. “If you want to have a good year, you have to win games like this. You have to win them. You must find your way through the grand challenges. … You’re on a great run. What is that was really impressive, they did it with different guys. They beat up some guys and they really managed to maintain their level of play. … It’s just a really good team. That’s what it takes. It’s a great matchup. “

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