(By: Daisy Barringer) Here’s how important this game is to me: I unexpectedly lost my job this week, but I haven’t even had time or inclination to mope about it or start looking for a new job because all I care about is the 49ers beating the holy hell out of the Seahawks on Sunday. Like, losing a job I can handle. Losing the game on Sunday? I won’t be able to get out of bed for weeks and since that means I won’t be able to find a new job, I won’t be able to pay my rent and come spring, I’ll be on the streets eating out of and sleeping in dumpsters. In short: The 49ers losing on Sunday will result in my being homeless. AND NO I AM NOT BEING DRAMATIC.
But that’s not even why the 49ers need to win. They need to win because someone needs to make those insufferable Seachickens’ fans shut their mouths. Oh. And because if we win, WE GO TO THE SUPER BOWL.
Everyone thinks the Seahawks have this, no problem. In fact, a super official poll on ESPN had every single state, except for California, picking Seattle. Honestly, that’s fine. I like it. The 49ers—and Colin Kaepernick especially—do better when they’re viewed as the underdog. The Seahawks are only favored by 3.5 points though and considering they have home-field advantage, it shows that Vegas at least views this as a pretty even match-up.
A match-up I truly believe the 49ers can win as long as they don’t let their emotions get the better of them and don’t turn over the ball.
Let’s take a look at how it’s going to go down:
The Niners are on a hot streak. They’ve won their last eight games straight, including a win against Seattle in SF.
The 49ers are being coached by one of the best guys in the league. Harbaugh has been the 49ers coach for three years and the 49ers have gone to the NFC Championship game in all three of those years.
Kaepernick is 3-0 in playoff games on the road. This is huge because even though this is the fourth consecutive road game for the 49ers, Kap has shown he has what it takes to win games no matter where he’s playing.
The Seahawks passing game in recent weeks has sucked. They’ve averaged less than 100 yards passing in the last five games and QB Russell Wilson’s passer rating is an astounding 77.3. Yes, Seattle has a sick defense, but they need the offense to score in order to win and between Russell Wilson’s unwillingness to take chances and Seattle’s mediocre receiving corps, I just don’t see that happening.
Meanwhile, Kap has been playing well lately. Does Kap have room for improvement, as Joe Montana said this week? Absolutely. We’ve seen him stumble more than once this season. However, with Crabtree, Boldin, and Davis there to make catches, I think he has an edge up on Wilson this week.
Back to the Seattle receivers. Starter Sidney Rice is on IR and it’s unknown if Percy Harvin (concussion) will be able to play. Golden Tate is pretty good, sure, but again, I just don't see him or Baldwin making big plays. I don’t root for injuries, but I won’t cry if Harvin can’t start. Of course, if he does, he’ll probably just get injured in the first series, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal.
The 49ers defense. Okay, yes, Seattle’s defense is good. Great even. But let me just throw a few names out there: NaVorrro Bowman. Patrick Willis. Aldon Smith. Ahmad Brooks. Justin Smith. Shall I list more or shall I stop at this? And yes, I just butchered a line from Romeo and Juliet in an article about football. You’re welcome.
Seattle may not lose at home often, but they do lose at home. In fact, they recently lost at home against the Cardinals, a team the 49ers beat twice this season. If anyone can beat them in their own house during the playoffs, it’s the San Francisco 49ers.
This is the 4th consecutive road game for the 49ers. I know I just said that wasn’t a big deal, but let’s not pretend it doesn’t matter a little bit because it does. Luckily, it’s also a very short trip for the Niners. What matters is
The noise in Seattle. It’s loud up there and everyone knows it. Clearly this makes it very hard for Kap to call plays and for the O-line to hear the snap count. Gotta love Kaepernick though. When asked about how difficult it would be to communicate the play calls this week due to the noise, he just shrugged and said, “It’s a little bit louder in Seattle.”
Marshawn Lynch. When Seattle doesn’t find success with the passing game, they’re going to give the ball to Lynch and let him do his thing. There is no doubt that Lynch is a great running back. Of course, there’s also no doubt that the Niners are effective at stopping the run. Should be interesting to watch.
Frank Gore. Gore only had 16 yards against the Seahawks (on 9 carries) in Seattle earlier this year. There are so many factors to look at there—including the fact that the 49ers really only had one viable wideout that Seattle had to cover (I mean, besides Kyle Williams—remember him?)—but the fact of the matter is, the Niners win when Gore has a good day. People may disagree, but I think it’s imperative that Gore has a big day if the Niners are going to win this game.
Seattle’s secondary. I despise Richard Sherman. I was reared not to hate anyone, but I think I hate him. Okay: I KNOW I hate him. The thing is though? The guy talks excessive amounts of smack because he can. Yes, he cheats and the Seahawks get away with more pass interference and defensive holding than any other team in the league, but it doesn’t get called so it doesn’t matter. We have great receivers, for sure, but whoever goes against Sherman is going to have a looooong day.
Play-calling. The 49ers play calling is clearly incredibly complicated and confusing. It is why we’ve burned timeouts and had delays of game. The 49ers MUST simplify things or we are going to find ourselves at the end of the game without a much-needed timeout. It is simply too loud in Seattle to make Kap have to listen to and then audible seventeen hundred plays.
Seattle’s good. They won the NFC West. They had a great season. They’re definitely a formidable opponent. Luckily, I think the 49ers know and respect that, whereas I think Seattle players are a little cocky. That being said, if Seattle’s defense can score on the Niners, it’s going to be hard to recover from that.
The Rest of It
This game is going to be intense. Like terrifyingly intense. My hope is that the 49ers can get into the heads of the Seahawks players and force them to react emotionally instead of intelligently. On the flip side, I need the 49ers to bring everything they have, but not get any stupid penalties for things that happen after the play. (Or during the play, for that matter.)
I hate Pete Carroll. I know I just said it’s wrong to hate people, but I can’t stand him and his stupid cud-chewing cow face. As a kid, I was only allowed to chew gum in the privacy of my bedroom and I thought it was ridiculous, but now I can say it’s one of the few things my mom got right. As usual, I hope he chokes on his gum and that one of players gives him the Heimlich only he does it too hard and Pete Carroll has to be taken the ER for broken ribs. Or something along those super vague lines.
The weather. Always worth mentioning. There’s a 20% chance of rain, but it shouldn’t be a factor. Temps will be in the mid-40s. This is good news for the 49ers, even if they did just beat Green Bay in Artic-like conditions. (Also, how can it be in the mid-40s when it’s seriously t-shirt weather everywhere else on the west coast?)
A really, really moronic Seahawks’ fans got a Super Bowl XLVIII Champs tattoo this week. I’m sorry, but that’s a jinx if I’ve ever seen one.
Lastly, there’s so much more that could be said about this matchup; I could probably write 3000 more words on the topic, but I think it all comes down to this: Seattle needs 12 men to win. The 49ers do it all of the time with just 11.
We’ve got this. GO NINERS!
Watch San Francisco at Seattle on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. PST on FOX.