The NFC Championship Game: San Francisco v. Seattle

Published: Jan 18, 2014 18:21pm EST
By JasonNeal, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Jan 18, 2014 @ 06:21pm EST

 

The San Francisco 49ers have made it back to the NFC Championship Game for the 3rd consecutive season.  Much has been made of their matchup this Sunday with the Seattle Seahawks, a team they are very familiar with. 

The Seahawks and 49ers have been divisional opponents since the NFL decided the Seattle based team was irrelevant enough to move from one conference to another.  This may seem harsh, but it’s not like MLB was moving the San Francisco Giants, the New York Yankees, or the Chicago Cubs to a different conference last year, nope…they moved the Houston Astros. Irrelevance.

The Seahawks did find early success in the division, as did the St. Louis Rams and the Arizona Cardinals while the 49ers were mired in their worst stretch of ineptitude since the franchise came into existence.  They were able to go to the Super Bowl and get handled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, although they and Mike Holmgren hold onto the thought that the referees screwed them (one ref did write a book saying he blew it, I think he was influenced by the Seahawks though). 

The 49ers bring a solid run game, arguably the best defense in the league, and an ever improving passing attack to Seattle where Colin Kaepernick has struggled in his only two starts.  In his last start in Seattle, a week two loss, Kaepernick threw three interceptions and the Niners were unable to get into the end zone despite being very deep in Seattle’s territory several times.  Kaepernick only had Anquan Boldin as a receiving threat as Michael Crabtree was still out with an Achilles injury and Vernon Davis was lost due to a concussion, his second sustained in as many games in Seattle.

The defense of the 49ers played incredibly well, holding the Seahawks to five points in the first half and kept the Niners to a 12-3 deficit going into the fourth quarter.  The bend-but-don’t-break mentality wasn’t strong enough and the defense allowed 17 points in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers did eek out a week 14 win over the ‘Hawks, 19-17, but again, Crabtree was not completely healthy and back to tip top shape.  The 49ers have not lost a game since their week 11 matchup with the New Orleans Saints, which was lost on a controversial call, and have dominated several opponents along the way.  With Russell Wilson struggling to be effective (he completed nine passes at home in last week’s win over the Saints), the 49ers defense should be able to tee off on the run and move forward from there.

Marshawn Lynch has feasted on the 49ers in games past, but the 49ers have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season and this defense is playing as good if not better than it has at any other point all year long.  If the 49ers can contain Lynch for the most part and keep Russell Wilson from breaking containment and stretching the plays out, it stands to reason they should be able to walk out of Seattle with a trip back to the Super Bowl.

The 49ers have the two best and fastest middle linebackers in the NFL, so using one (probably NaVarro Bowman) as a spy on Wilson should be to their advantage.  By not allowing him to extend plays and get outside the pocket, the 49ers have an advantage in that their secondary will not have to cover as long before the pressure gets to Wilson.  Ahmad Brooks will have some solid one-on-one matchups with the Smith brothers lined up on the other side of the formation, which should give him a chance to be productive and get some shots on Russell Wilson. 

Kaepernick needs to be patient, stand in the pocket, and deliver the ball on time, sometimes with anticipation, but he also needs to know when to pull that ball down and get out of the pocket.  He has done a great job with his decision-making in the last few weeks and the 49ers will need that to continue.  If the Niners can score on their first possession or two, it should set the tone for a very different game than the last two games in Seattle.  It should also help to take that obnoxious and overly confident fan base out of the game a bit.  The 12th man? Come on, get real and get your own slogan.

So all these things being said, I think the 49ers will be going to their seventh Super Bowl and I think they beat the Seahawks, 24-20.  This 49ers team is better than they were last year and they have played better than any other team in the NFL in recent weeks.  Seattle is in for one of the better NFC Championship Games I can think of in recent history…it’s too bad that city will be so sad after the game.  I guess it’s a good thing it rains so much in Seattle; no one will be able to tell that their fan base is crying.


 

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JasonNeal
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