49ers coming to Seattle next week

Seattle vs San Francisco... who makes the Super Bowl?

It seemed inevitable.

Seattle meets San Francisco for a place in the Super Bowl.

The two best teams in the NFC get a chance to settle who is #1.

And the Seahawks get an opportunity to play the hottest team in the league.

Here’s what they’re coming up against…

Colin Kaepernick
Whatever struggles he had earlier in the season, he’s peaking at the right time. Kaepernick looks confident, comfortable and for the first time this year he’s playing with a smile. He’s running well, he’s making plays. Just as Russell Wilson is hitting his first genuine cold streak, Kaepernick looks very sharp.

Boldin, Crabtree & Davis
Without doubt the catalyst behind Kaepernick’s form is the return of Michael Crabtree and the consistent production of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. That’s three reliable, big bodied receivers who are making plays in the post season. This is the one big difference between the two teams. Kaepernick doesn’t have to be overly precise with these guys. They are a mismatch nightmare and Seattle needs to get Wilson a big target next season.

Defensive line/linebackers are dominating
The 49ers don’t have a great secondary, but they’re able to flood coverage because their four and five man rush is one of the best in the league. Throw in the fact they have two brilliant inside linebackers and it’s a scary group.

Frank Gore
He’s getting old — and his impact in a 60-minute game is diminishing. Yet somehow, he seems to have at least one huge play every week. His +50 yard run beat the Seahawks at Candlestick. A similar effort today finished off the Panthers.

The way the 49ers handled Carolina today was very impressive. The Panthers took a 10-6 lead that probably should’ve been 14-6 after two failed goal line attempts. Even so, Cam Newton was rolling in the first half and had all the momentum.

It was pretty much one way traffic.

Then San Francisco ended the half with a long scoring drive out of nowhere, and started the second with a three-and-out on defense and another long scoring drive.

Game changed, game over.

This off the back of having to go and play a tough game in Green Bay last week.

But before we forfeit the game and doth our caps to the Niners, here’s what the Seahawks can feel happy about…

– Marshawn Lynch ran very well against the Saints and has consistently played well against the 49ers. He will be crucial next weekend, especially if Wilson can’t get out of his little funk.

– San Francisco were a hot team last time they visited Seattle. They’d just destroyed the Packers, with Kaepernick throwing it around to the tune of career best passing numbers. That streak lasted one week, because he was shut down at Century Link — throwing three interceptions in the process.

– As good as San Francisco’s front four is, the Seahawks still made enough plays last time with Paul McQuistan playing left tackle.

– In the recent meeting between the two teams, the 49ers won by two points playing their tails off. They might be able to replicate that intensity with a Super Bowl on the line, but it really took a titanic effort to win by such a small margin.

– Seattle’s defense is playing superbly. They gave up some yardage late on against the Saints, but for the most part did a great job limiting an elite quarterback (Drew Brees) and a collection of excellent receivers. The 49ers are a tougher and superior road opponent, but the defense will be up for this one.

– A big part of the conservative approach on offense yesterday was the 16-0 scoreline. Taking the air out of the ball made a lot of sense. They were a conversion or two from coasting along to a predictable victory and possibly shutting out the Saints. I’m not sure a week of panic is required.

Overall I’d break it down like this….

Passing game edge? San Francisco — Kaepernick is playing very well, Wilson is on a tough run.

Running game edge? Seattle — Lynch is looking sharp again but this one’s close.

Pass rush edge? Seattle can rush, but San Francisco’s front seven is scary.

Coverage edge? Seattle’s secondary is the best in the NFL.

Seattle needs to help Wilson find a rhythm.

Teams are taking away the bootleg right, they’ve got a week to combat that. Short slants over the middle didn’t work this week — in part due to drops, but also due to inaccurate throws.

I think they have to get the tight ends involved. They have to go back to taking some shots downfield — even if it didn’t go to plan against Arizona.

Patience is also required. The 49ers are so effective rushing with four or five, they HAVE to establish the run first. Even if it is frustrating at times. There’s no alternative. They need to try and commit more defenders into the box to attack the secondary.

If they can get Lynch going, they need to be prepared to take some shots, be creative, get the tight ends downfield.

It’s going to be a long week waiting for next Sunday.

I wouldn’t expect a repeat of the last two meetings in Seattle. It’ll be a war this time — there’s too much at stake for a blow out.

A big drive in the fourth quarter or a key pass by one of the young quarterbacks could be the difference. It’ll be fine margins.

The loser is going to face the longest off-season imaginable. The winner will spend two weeks on cloud nine with a shot at immortality.


  1. CC

    The offense is going to have to bring it – open it up, while still protecting the ball. I hope Percy can play and play the whole friggin game – we need him! D will do their part, but as we learned against AZ, having the D play great isn’t enough. If the offense doesn’t score TDs and get first downs, a loss is possible.

    • Nate

      Agreed. If Caroll has any, ANY offensive tricks/plays left in his back pocket, now is the time to unleash them. Wilson has to break out of whatever funk he’s in right now, or it’s going to be a long game.

      • Rob Staton

        I think they just need to go back to what they are — a passing game built around chunk plays. Go make some.

        • bigDhawk

          Especially if Harvin is out next week, but even if he is a go, do you think there is anything to be gained by putting a small package together for for CMike to get him the ball in space and use him situationally as a playmaking option? I’m not talking about changing our scheme fundamentally, and not talking about using him to pass block – just as a wrinkle SF has not seen yet. It seems like we could use all the playmaking options we can get right now. Behind Russell and Beast (and Harvin if he plays), CMike probably has the most explosive playmaking potential of anyone left on our roster and it galls me a bit that we have not even tried to use him partially at all this year after spending a second round pick on him, especially after watching Keenan Allen have the game he had today and we could have drafted him instead. But hindsighting last years draft aside, do you think he could actually help us win with an explosive play or two?

          • Rob Staton

            I think the Christine Michael ship has sailed this year. I doubt he’s even active. I just hope the light switches on this summer or that’s going to be a bust pick.

            • CiaranH

              I was thinking the same thing against the Saints bigDHawk, I was gutted to see Michael on the inactive list. Seems like this would be the perfect time to unleash him as an alternate runner to Lynch.

              In a way, it’s a microcosm of Bevell’s offence. We’d rather go with a safe, average runner in Turbin than risk the unpredictable yet spectacular potential of Christine. Earlier in the year, lack of blocking awareness was mooted as the reason he wasn’t seeing the field. At this point, we have to wonder if there’s more to it (fumble problems, attitude problems, lack of effort etc). A full red-shirt regular season should have been enough to get his house in order

              • AlaskaHawk

                I don’t see what would change for Michael. If he isn’t worked into the team by now – he never will be. It’s unfortunate waste of draft capital.

                But we are hardly using Turbin either. We were using him for swing passes last year. Now he sees the field once or twice a game.

                I love Lynch, but I find it puzzling that no other back can rotate in.

    • Phil

      I expect that we won’t see much change to the Seahawk offense unless we get behind, and even then, probably no changes until later in the game. I say this because in past games at C-Link, Kaep has been rattled by the crowd noise and he has tended to make big mistakes. So, I envision a conservative start, emphasizing field position and protecting the ball. Let the 9ers beat themselves, but have a more wide-open game plan in reserve if the primary plan doesn’t work for us.

      IMHO, our primary goal on defense has got to be stopping Gore, then Boldin.

      On offense, we’ve got to get RW out of the pocket where he can extend plays against a mediocre 9er secondary. Easy to say, tougher to do …

  2. kevin mullen

    Bowie at LG will be the highlight of the trenches.

    • CC

      Has anyone looked at the all 22 to see how he played? I’m guessing pretty well since no holding called penalties and Lynch ran left and middle for his yards. But please, can they throw that damn pitch play out? For the one time we get 1-2 yards, 9 times we lose yards.

      • dave crockett

        It clearly didn’t work vs. NO, but we got mileage out of that play all year. On the first time we ran it I thought Marshawn missed a cut back for a score. I think he’s really rounding off his cuts at full speed. The other times NO really got to the edges quickly and beat blocks.

        Still, I like having the play in the arsenal. I don’t think SF is as quick to the edges as NO.

        That said, I’d like to see Turbo running it on some of his touches.

    • Attyla the Hawk

      Bowie looked incredibly good after rewatching the game. I want to see more. A lot more.

      • CC


  3. dave crockett

    SF’s best shot–at home–resulted in a 2pt. win on a great run by Gore.

    The two teams had almost identical statistical output in their most recent playoff games. (So, I’m looking forward to hearing and reading about how badly Seattle’s offense is struggling and SF is as hot as hot can be.)

    In no way do I take SF lightly. I just think Seattle is better, even with the recent struggles. Parish Cox is playing big minutes in their secondary. Think about that. That front four is still one of the best, but Seattle has beat them when it’s been better than it is right now. SF is not getting a ton from Aldon Smith since he came back. And although Justin Smith is still Pro Bowl caliber he’s not nigh invulnerable right now either.

    Do we need RW to hit throws when they are available? Absolutely. But Seattle controlled that game at SF last month for 3 and a half quarters while the 49ers fought for their playoff lives.

    I don’t take SF lightly. I just think Seattle is better.

  4. smitty1547

    Well was there any doubt it would be SF just seems like it was mkeant to be….GO HAWKS

  5. Stuart

    EPIC, that is the one word that describes this games. As a Seahawk fan for all 37 years, this will be the 2nd biggest game in their entire history (Super Bowl in 2005 v Pittsburgh #1). I don’t have a ticket for the game nor could I afford one right now but no matter, I will not be able to sit down the entire game. If I have a voice left after the game then I wasn’t yelling hard enough. I despise the 49ers and cannot fathom an entire off-season with a loss to them in the NFC Championship.

    After watching all 4 games this weekend, an obvious takeaway was don’t drop sure interceptions! Turn overs made-or not made will likely dictate the final outcome of the game. Yes, Captain Obvious…

    Go Hawks!

    • CC

      Those drops gave NO a chance – let’s hope the dropsy problem went away at the end of the game. Kaep can be an okay QB, but he isn’t Drew Brees – so the D should be able to play well against SF. Imagine if we cannot stand the thought of SF winning and a whole off season – think what it would do to Petey and team? Harbaugh sure works the officials – I really wish he’d get fined for being on the field and his antics.

  6. Cysco

    Cam was moving the ball against SFO well by using the read option and actually keeping the ball. Yes there is risk of injury, but Wilson is going to have to take some chances and keep some himself.

    If Seattle can keep Kaepernick from running all over the place, I think they win. If Kaep runs wild and picks up 1st downs with his legs, It’ll be a long day.

    Make Kaep beat the best secondary in the league if he wants to win.

    • Rob Staton

      K.J. Wright could be crucial in keeping a check on those QB runs. Let’s hope he’s back this week.

      • adog

        I think that part of the reason that the Panthers faded in the second half was that Newton got beat up in the first, and the Panthers team as a whole peaked out emotionally in the first. So they came out in the 2nd a bit deflated.

        • Coug1990

          I agree. On that first 49er drive of the second half, I commented to the guy next to me (I watched the game at the gym) that Carolina’s body language was bad. I looked their defensive players after a play and they would get up slow and walk back to the huddle with their shoulders slumped. I told the guy to watch the next play and sure enough, after watching he agreed.

        • Rob Staton

          I would put it down to second half adjustment… San Fran are very strong there.

  7. OakHarborHawk

    I’m going to be cocky and say 42-21 Seattle. Close game and then we roll them in the 4th. Beast Mode is back and Sherman and Baldwin always bring it against Harbaugh.

    We should have Harvin healthy for this game. Reports say he wanted to go back in and was passing the concussion protocol. Also the Niners no long have Goldson, so he shouldn’t be taking helmet to helmet shots every times he catches the ball unlike this last game. Thought the Saints no long did that whole bounty thing.

    In other news Spencer Ware was arrested for a DUI. Got to think he’s on the roster bubble and they might draft another late round RB or two. I like Jay Ajayi from Boise State in the later rounds if he’s still around.

    • Turp

      Can you cite the source that said Harvin was passing concussion protocols?

  8. Turp

    The winner of this game will be better for it, and well prepared for the Super Bowl. The Hawks defense will have to dominate again for us to win it. The offense can only do…just enough to win.

  9. Robert

    Rob, I agree that we need to get our TE’s involved. For the last month, it has been excruciating for me to watch our offense flail about. When teams clog our running lanes with over-aggressive LB and SS, it seems obvious to me that we should have TE’s chip bl0ock on the DE’s and release at random. This constraint play strategy is a very effective counter strategy and WILL give RW more time, result in chunk plays, keep the chains moving, keep the opposing offense off the field, help our offense find their rhythm, cause LB’s and SS to hesitate until they confirm RW has handed off the ball BEFORE attacking the running lanes, cause LB’s and SS to be focus on the possibility of randomly releasing TE’s which undermines their effectiveness vs Beast and RW. I am convinced we could be dropping 40 points on most teams if we would just attack where they aren’t…very frustrating.

    • Rob Staton

      You make a very strong point on the TE’s.

      • AlaskaHawk

        I really wonder why we don’t have better plays for our tight ends. We have had a few games last season where they were used often. Somehow they have become blockers with hardly a pass thrown their way. Looking ahead to San Francisco I don’t think our passing game will magically become better. I do have hopes for continued improvement in the running game. I think we finally have a healthy offensive line. Lynch is running well. We may even see Turbin for more then one play.

        • Rob Staton

          We’ve gone away from using the TE’s and full back in the passing game — something we had success with in the playoffs and back end of last season. There may be a reason for this, but it’s not obvious.

          • Phil

            When I think of a game where the TEs (Miller) were really targeted last year, I think of Atlanta. In my memory, the Falcons were bringing their LBs close to the line-of-scrimmage trying to stop the Seahawks running game, the Seahawk WRs were running deep routes, RW was using play-action, and the large area between the line-of-scrimmage and the defensive backs was wide open for Miller.

            In the last 9er game (at the ‘stick), Luke Willson really burned Patrick Willis and I think Willson’s speed could really make an interesting matchup if they can get him one-on-one vs. the 9ers LBs.

            • Robert

              That is precisely how defenses have stymied us over the last month. If they would just throw a couple passes to TE over the middle, RW will find his rhythm. Also, LBs will either defend that part of the field (which opens Beast game) or they will be gashed like the Atlanta game when Miller went berserk.

  10. Don

    How much did Parish Cox learn about the Seahawks offense during his time here? Can his knowledge give the whinners an advantage?

    The Hawks will play conservative, with heavy doses of run and defense, with a little bit of pass to keep the defense honest. Another ugly win. I say they need to be deceptive, not so predictable. Most of the plays against NO was run-run-pass.

    Hawks need to mix it up the play calling more.
    Perhaps run a no huddle fast pace sometimes on series to catch the whinners off guard.

    • Tomahawk

      I was thinking the same thing about Cox being used for intel. Hopefully it is not an issue.

      • Rob Staton

        Unless he’s also training with the Seahawks this week, I doubt he picked up all that much. No more than B.J. Daniels did.

    • bigDhawk

      These are bitter division rivals that know each other inside and out. I find it hard to believe that the cup of coffee Cox had with us is going to significantly add to what they already know.

      • AlaskaHawk

        It’s all on film anyway.

    • Phil

      I’ve thought about going no-huddle, too. But, I think it works against your defense and I don’t think PC will do it. On the other hand, going no-huddle on just a few plays could add a little twist …

      • plyka

        They just need to get some first downs. These 3 and outs, time after time after time, are what really kill your defense. We have the best defense i’ve seen in the last 5 years. It is absolutely dominant. But with only a 16 pint lead, the Hawks gave up possession after possession with 3 and outs taking a minute off the clock. You cannot afford to give a team like the Saints 10 possessions in the 2nd half. Eventually your defense gets tired, and the offense starts to click.

  11. chris

    do we have tight ends on this team? all kidding aside i would like to see luke wilson utilized more in the game plan with some seam routes against lber’s.

    im pretty sure none of the linebackers could run with luke and if harvin plays the safeties with be focused on containing him instead of luke, but we are all daydreaming if we think bevell could come up with a creative gameplan to take advantage of an agressive defense.

  12. kevin mullen

    Prediction Play of the Game: flat route to Mike Rob.

    I only say that because Russ and Mike Rob were practicing it back in May, trying to perfect the timing and release.

    • Phil

      Maybe we will see the old QB (MRob) sling the ball …

  13. Andrew

    Here is the deal: I believe we are focusing on Seattle’s offense too much. The onus will be on the niners offense to do something. Kaep, for all of his strengths, will force things to happen. Let’s establish the run, let our d give us the ball and force the Niners to change their gameplan.

  14. Jake

    The tale of the tape from this week:
    Seahawks’ terrible, sloppy, awful, stone cold offense: 277 total yards, 4.9 yards per play, 23 points.

    San Francisco’s world-beating, Super Bowl caliber, peaking at the right time attack: 315 yards, 4.8 yards per play, 23 points.

    Football Outsiders has the Saints defense ranked #10 with a -5.9% DVOA (negative is good), and the Panthers ranked #3 with a -15.7% DVOA. On the other hand, SF played in perfect weather in Carolina while Seattle played in a monsoon at home.

    Compared to last week, Seattle will be playing a defense that isn’t quite as good (-4.6% per DVOA) and in better weather, while San Francisco will be playing a much better defense (-25.8%) in worse weather.

    Honestly, would you be as worried if the Seahawks hadn’t given up a prevent defense td or had recovered the onside kick? Or if Marshawn had gone down on the 5, the Seahawks ran the clock down to 20 seconds, and kicked a field goal to win with a 19-8 final margin of victory?

    Any team can win on any given Sunday, but people seem to be a little too down on the Seahawks. They need to play well, but they don’t need to play better than their best to win.

  15. David M

    In that slugfest we played in SF, don’t forget it was only the 2nd start for Byron Maxwell, he has improved GREATLY since then. also Lane was at nickel, which he is good, but Thurmond plays it better than him, he’s back.

    12th man advantage.

    our offense is having its problems but it will find the way to score points. Lynch has good outings vs the 49ers here at CLINK i expect balwdin to have a good game too.

    I’m pretty sure in the saints game, Baldwin and Tate were also slightly concussed, they both took some cheep head shots, were lucky they didn’t end up on the bench like harvin

  16. Miles

    Make no mistake about it: no one wants to play the 49ers right now.

    They are on a tear, and clicking in almost every way possible. They are coming into Seattle on a huge high note and a long winning streak. They are a confident bunch, a confidence that could not be any higher.

    But there is a BUT.

    The Seahawks are The Seahawks, and they’ve played generally well all year. Our defense is playing as well as it has anytime in the Pete Carroll era, and Marshawn Lynch played out of his mind against the Rams and the Saints the past three weeks. IF the Hawks get Harvin back the field, and IF he can play a full game, I’m really not too worried about our pass offense. I felt like it was clicking when we had Harvin on the field, and he made some great plays. He also created notable openings for Golden Tate. But because concussion protocol is so cerebral and cautious, we’ll have to hold our breaths on that one.

    And make no mistake about this game; it is the biggest in Seahawks history to date. Along with Superbowl qualification, it also bestows future momentum, a stake to the claim that we are indeed the NFC West’s best, and a right for the chance to claim we are the first NFC West team in recent history to win a Superbowl. That would be huge. I believe whoever wins this game will win the Superbowl, and it wouldn’t be ideal to be the team that has to try and be the second NFC West team to win the Superbowl next year. That thought gives me nervous ticks.

    So, make no mistake about it, IF the Hawks beat the 49ers in their own house in the NFC Championship, it will be the single biggest victory in Seahawks history. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’d be the biggest non-Superbowl victory by any team in NFL history, period. To qualify for the Superbowl, prove that they are the undisputed champions of the NFC Best, move on to accomplish something no modern NFC West team has done, and bring a streaking 49ers team to a screeching halt in our house, and put them in their place as second to THE SEAHAWKS, this 2013 squad would be immortalized forever.

    • dave crockett

      I’m going to make that mistake Miles. 🙂

      SF is playing well enough to beat us. They’ve earned respect, but a lot of this narrative about how they are “peaking” and “so hot right now” is built on big days vs. Atlanta, TB (after they’d gone fishin’) and Green Bay. That’s two atrocious defenses and an unmotivated one.

      If you look at how SF has performed vs. quality defenses in the past few weeks you’re not seeing anything that would justify all this talk about how they’re peaking. They are playing well. They are obviously better with Crabtree. But no one should invest much into what they did vs. Green Bay’s 31st in DVOA dumpster fire defense. They didn’t do anything to Carolina that Seattle didn’t do to New Orleans.

  17. MJ

    A lot of great comments…after a day away to think, we held an absolutely prolific offense to 15 points, which one could argue was 8 thanks to a flukey play. Brees saw us for a second time, so the idea of surprise and shock are out the window. Now we play Kaepernick and the SF offense. Let’s not talk ourselves into thinking this is Manning and company.

  18. Zach

    As strange as it is to say, I think we’re not giving the Seahawks defense enough credit. They have a front seven that matches up favorably with those in San Francisco and Carolina, especially when depth is considered, but those other teams have decent secondaries. The Seahawks have the best secondary in football by a sizable margin.

    While of course the previous games are not exactly predictive, let’s not forget that the 49ers have scored a grand total of 48 points in their last 4 games against the Seahawks, with seven of those coming in total garbage time in the 42-13 win last year. While it’s far from a given that the Hawks will hold them under 13 points, I also have a hard time seeing the 49ers getting to 20 without a couple of fluke plays (special teams or defense).

    To me, the real question is whether the pass protection will hold up enough to allow Russ to take some deep shots. Those plays are there to be made against the 49ers, but only if the o-line can slow the pass rush. Whether that’s about setting up those plays with the run game, or getting better line play, or both, it has to happen. I expect Marshawn to have a solid game, but I’d doubt he goes for 140 and 2 TDs again.

    Of course, Kaepernick could melt down yet again in Seattle and make this relatively comfortable. That would make us all happy…

  19. Jeff

    Seattle/SF smells alot like the old Cowboys/Niners rivalry. No way Seattle cannot be favored after the last two debacles up there, but IF the Niners play no-turnover, few-penalty football, control the clock, and show any form of offensive imagination (not their strength), they can win. Lynch against SF, though, is Jim Brown reincarnate. No single player scares me more. Kaepernick MUST keep his composure in this one, unlike week 2.

    It is going to be the game of the year. And the best team will win. Very exciting!!!!

  20. Ukhawk

    Great post to share if not done so already, gives hawk fans confidence in the face of a hot, fully loaded 49er team…

  21. Darnell

    Rob, I have to disagree with your prediction.

    The Hawks are gonna win convincingly, by 10+.

    • Rob Staton

      I hope you’re right.

  22. Austin

    Great article. One area you gave a slight edge to San Fran was pass rush and this just isn’t true. Seattle leads in sacks, pressures and just about every advanced stat out there in regards to getting pressure on the QB. Factor in the home crowd and our defense getting off the line much quicker because of the noise etc. and I think its a fairly big edge for Seattle.

    • Rob Staton

      I would counter that slightly… San Fran didn’t have Aldon Smith for most of the season. The A.Smith-J.Smith combo is very dangerous. Seattle has improved the pass rush this year, but they don’t get consistent pressure snap after snap like San Fran. It’s a case of the pass rush being quiet for a few downs, then an explosive play. The Niners, for me, maybe haven’t had the stats this year but you know the QB will be pressured on pretty much every down.

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