The San Francisco 49ers vs. the Seattle Seahawks. Not only are these two teams the best in the NFC, but this two are bitter rivals and on Sunday at 3:30 pt on FOX, they will battle it out for a chance at the ultimate chance.
These two teams have been destined to play in this game since the beginning of season and really since the ending of last season. What makes this match-up so interesting is the makeup of both of these teams. They both have tough, physical defenses and they both play smash mouth where they elect to run the ball down the oppositions throats. They also both have good young quarterbacks in Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson who are dual threats. They guys extend plays with their legs and use play action to attack defenses down the field. Add the fact that both of these teams don’t really like each other all that much and you have yourself a must-see game.
Quarterback: San Francisco
All Russell Wilson does is win, and that 16-1 home record in hard to argue against but in his last five games he has thrown for 200 yards only once and hasn’t recorded a single multiple touchdown game. The Seahawks haven’t needed Wilson to put up big numbers yet but there will come a time during the game where they will need him to step up so this lack in production could come back and haunt Seattle. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t blown anybody away with his stats either but he has made plays in clutch situations to help his football team win games. Being so close last year and coming up short will also help Kaep especially coming to Seattle where he has played his worst.
Running Game: Seattle
Marshawn Lynch is a big man and many defenses, including the 49ers, have a hard time putting him on the ground. Since 2010 the 49ers have only allowed 5 100-yard performances, three of which belong to Lynch. Beast-mode runs hard and has deceptively quick feet which he showed in the game against the Saints as he ran for 140 yards. Although Frank Gore is an excellent running back in his own right he hasn’t been able to mirror the success that Lynch has acquired.
Receiving Corps: San Francisco
In these playoffs, the 49ers have been able to establish their big three with Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree, and Vernon Davis. After the wildcard game where Crabtree caught eight balls for 125 yards, all the attention shifted to him as he was appointed the key element in the 49ers offense. In Carolina, the Panthers focused on stopping the Kaepernick-Crabtree connection then Anquan Boldin happened (eight for 136). If you double both of them then you have to contend with probably the fastest guy in Vernon Davis who is excellent in the redzone with 13 touchdowns and two in the playoffs so far.
Both of them are physical, both of them have all-pro talent, and both of them make game changing plays. The 49ers have a very good front seven led by their league best linebackers but the Seahawks have an outstanding secondary with Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. So if both defenses are pretty good why does Seattle get the edge? The 12th man. That crowd in Seattle is like no other in sports. They will cause a 49ers offense, who has been playing well as of late, trouble in terms of communication and is the main reason why the Seahawks are favored in the game.
Both Jim Harbaugh and Pete Caroll have battled in big games going back to their battles in the pac-10. Both of these teams have built tough football teams but in very different ways. Harbaugh is the more intense of the two but their players have responding pretty well to both of these styles. They have said that there is no animosity towards one another but any outsider can tell that winning this game will be extra sweeter because of the opposition you are facing.
Match-up to watch: 49ers WR’s vs. Hawks DB’s
It’s the “Legion of Boom” against the talent of San Francisco. If the 49ers want to keep drives alive, Colin Kaepernick is going to have to find his receivers to move the chains. So the question becomes, can the Niners receivers get separation against these physical defensive backs? With Boldin and Crabtree the 49ers certainly have the talent to do so it will be imperative for them to get that separation and allow Kaepernick to get rid of the ball quickly and not allow that Seattle pass rush to get to him. This secondary is also a very aggressive so the 49ers should use that against them to set up longer routes and double moves.
Bottom Line: Sneak up on em Frank
All week long, the media has been talking about the young quarterbacks, the coaching battle, the success of Marshawn Lynch, the tough defenses, even the crowd noise. But like every other game, Frank Gore has become an afterthought. This is his opportunity to come up big against a great defense. I think that he will use that offensive line and run hard all game and in true Frank Gore fashion will break one late in the game and put Colin Kaepernick in prime position to win this game. The 49ers are going to their second straight Superbowl.
Game ball: Frank Gore