6:30 PM ET, January 19, 2014
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
Riding an eight-game winning streak, it's easy to understand why the San Francisco 49ers feel they can perform better than they did in their last two visits to Seattle.
Whether they're good enough to end their road struggles against the Seahawks and reach the Super Bowl for a second straight season will be determined Sunday with the NFC championship on the line.
"I think we're the two teams that everybody was looking at from the beginning," San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. "It's going to be a knockdown, drag-out game.
"We're ready to go."
Mirroring the images of their fiery and animated head coaches, both sides expect the hitting to be hard, the talking loud and the emotions high when these NFC West rivals meet with so much at stake.
"Long story short: They know us, we know them," 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. "We got to go there. We all know the history. But this is the Super Bowl."
Though the teams have split the last four meetings, top-seeded Seattle (14-3) has looked dominant while forcing seven turnovers and outscoring the 49ers 71-16 to win the last two at raucous CenturyLink Field.
"It's a big deal to play here," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman told the team's official website. "We've earned that right to play them at home, to be on our home field in front of our fans."
With the "12th Man" crowd there to lend support, the Seahawks have won six straight home playoff games, highlighted by a 34-14 victory over Carolina in the NFC championship game during the 2005 season. The noise level in the stadium even produced a small earthquake during last Saturday's 23-15 win over New Orleans.
"We understand that we have to go up there in a hostile environment with a really good football team and do what a lot of people probably aren't going to pick us to do," San Francisco safety Donte Whitner said. "That's OK with us. We understand what we have to do."
A three-point win in the bitter cold at Green Bay in the wild-card round and a 23-10 victory at second-seeded Carolina last weekend further increased the 49ers' confidence level.
"Our team has been in a lot of good primers, been through a lot of situations, been through tough environments, whether it be weather or opposing stadiums," coach Jim Harbaugh, whose team can be the first to make the Super Bowl in consecutive years since New England during the 2003 and '04 seasons.
Kaepernick completed 50.0 percent of his passes for 371 yards with a touchdown and four interceptions in his two starts at Seattle. His 87 yards on nine carries highlighted San Francisco's 29-3 loss there in Week 2.
However, Kaepernick is 4-1 in the postseason, including 3-0 on the road.
He posted a 92.7 passer rating and threw six TDs and three INTs in those five games, while rushing for 377 yards and four touchdowns with a 9.4-yard per-carry average.
Kaepernick's game has improved with the presence of Michael Crabtree, who has 30 receptions for 435 yards with a TD in seven contests -- including playoffs -- since making his season debut Dec. 1 after an Achilles injury.
Boldin is looking to make it to the Super Bowl for the second straight year after helping Baltimore beat San Francisco 34-31 in 2013 with six receptions for 104 yards and a score.
"We're a different team than we were the first time we played (the Seahawks) up there," said Kaepernick, who threw for 127 yards, three interceptions and was sacked three times in that meeting.
San Francisco (14-4), though, still must find a way to get the best of a Seattle defense that led the league with 273.6 yards and 14.4 points allowed.
Boldin caught 13 passes for 208 yards and a TD in a 34-28 season-opening win over Green Bay, but the next week was held to one reception for seven at Seattle. He did make six catches for 93 yards in the rematch at San Francisco on Dec. 8, but the 49ers needed a 22-yard field goal with 26 seconds left to win 19-17.
San Francisco's Frank Gore, who had 110 yards on 17 rushes in last month's matchup, is averaging 4.9 per carry in seven postseason games. However, he's rushed 15 times for 44 yards in the last two at Seattle.
The Seahawks allowed New Orleans to run for 108 yards and Marques Colston to make 11 catches for 144 yards and a TD last weekend, but they limited star tight end to Jimmy Graham to one catch for eight and the Saints to a 3-of-12 performance on third down.
"(Reaching the NFC championship is) what we want to do, and we're not going to let anybody come in our way and take this from us," Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said.
Teammate Marshawn Lynch pounded his way for 140 yards and two touchdowns, including a 31-yard score late in the fourth quarter. It was the third playoff game of at least 131 yards for Lynch, who has averaged 5.2 per carry and scored five TDs in five postseason contests.
He's averaged 112.5 yards and scored four TDs in four home games versus San Francisco, which gave up 90.8 rushing yards per game in the regular season. Lynch has also caught a touchdown pass in each of the last two home contests in the series.
Seattle's Russell Wilson has thrown for five TDs and two INTs while posting a 101.4 passer rating in the past two at home against the 49ers.
Despite his team's recent home success in the series, Wilson knows a serious challenge awaits against a San Francisco team that's allowed averages of 15.5 points and 304.9 yards over the last eight weeks.
"The Seattle Seahawks want to bring something special to the city," he said. "To do that, we have to play the best 60 minutes of our lives."
Wilson has averaged just 157.6 passing yards in his last five with four touchdowns and three interceptions, completing 56.7 percent of his passes, and he'll be without perhaps his biggest weapon Sunday.
Percy Harvin, who played just one regular season game but came back to face the Saints, caught three passes against New Orleans but didn't play in the second half after suffering a concussion. On Friday, Seattle ruled him out against the 49ers.
More from ESPN.com
Chargers FG caps 2nd-half rally over 49ers
Nick Novak kicked a 40-yard field goal nearly 5 minutes into overtime after Philip Rivers rallied San Diego back from a 21-point deficit in the second half, keeping the Chargers' slim playoff hopes alive with a 38-35 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
NFL or Michigan? Harbaugh said to be torn
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's family and friends have been encouraging him to take the University of Michigan head-coaching job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL.
Recent Blog Posts
|Avg Points Allowed||17.7||16.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||SF|
|Rush Yds Allowed||SF|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Seattle leads 14-11|
|Dec 8, 2013||SF 19, SEA 17|
|Sep 15, 2013||SF 3, @SEA 29|
|Dec 23, 2012||SF 13, @SEA 42|
|Oct 18, 2012||SF 13, SEA 6|
|Dec 24, 2011||SF 19, @SEA 17|
|Sep 11, 2011||SF 33, SEA 17|
|Dec 12, 2010||SF 40, SEA 21|
|Sep 12, 2010||SF 6, @SEA 31|
|Dec 6, 2009||SF 17, @SEA 20|
|Sep 20, 2009||SF 23, SEA 10|
|Oct 26, 2008||SF 13, SEA 34|
|Sep 14, 2008||SF 33, @SEA 30|
|Nov 12, 2007||SF 0, @SEA 24|
|Sep 30, 2007||SF 3, SEA 23|
|Dec 14, 2006||SF 24, @SEA 14|
|Nov 19, 2006||SF 20, SEA 14|
|Dec 11, 2005||SF 3, @SEA 41|
|Nov 20, 2005||SF 25, SEA 27|
|Nov 7, 2004||SF 27, SEA 42|
|Sep 26, 2004||SF 0, @SEA 34|
|Dec 27, 2003||SF 17, SEA 24|
|Oct 12, 2003||SF 19, @SEA 20|
|Dec 1, 2002||SF 31, SEA 24|
|Oct 14, 2002||SF 28, @SEA 21|
Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson enter the NFC Championship Game headed in opposite directions. Wilson hasn't posted a Total QBR greater than 50.0 in any of his previous 5 games, while Kaepernick's lowest Total QBR in his last 5 games is 68.6 in Week 17.[+]
Last 5 Games (Including Postseason)
NaVorro Bowman was a 1st-team All-Pro last season and made his 1st Pro Bowl, and then did everything better this season. He's in the top 5 in tackles and forced fumbles among LBs, and showing off his versatility, he's up there in pass breakups and interception return yards.[+]
NaVorro Bowman During Regular Season
The 49ers and Seahawks are very familiar with one another, especially the past 3 seasons since John Harbaugh took over in San Francisco. The Niners have won 4 of the 6 meetings, and the Seahawks have outscored San Fran by about 5 points per game, but they've played each other about as even as two teams can.[+]
Head-to-Head Past 3 Seasons - Under Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll
Including the playoffs, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning both rank in the top 10 in Total QBR in the 4th quarter and overtime this season. However, the quarterbacks in the NFC Championship have not had the same success late in games.[+]
Combined QB in Championship Games - 4th Qtr/OT This Season (Including Playoffs)
Colin Kaepernick has gotten off to a fast start in his brief NFL career, but the Seahawks have given him far more trouble than any other team he's faced. Three of the 5 worst games of his career by Total QBR have come against Seattle.[+]
Colin Kaepernick NFL Career - As Starting QB (Including Playoffs)
Marshawn Lynch ran for 107 yards inside the tackles Sunday, including a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Lynch has rushed for more than 100 yards in between the tackles in both of the Seahawks' playoff games this season, after not reaching 100 in any regular-season game. Lynch picked up 74 of his yards inside the tackles in the second half. --Lynch has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of his last six games against the 49ers.[+]
Marshawn Lynch Rushing Inside the Tackles, Sunday
Colin Kaepernick ran for 130 yards Sunday, the second-most rushing yards by a quarterback in a postseason game in NFL history (Kaepernick - 181 against Packers in 2012 Divisional Round). The Seahawks held Kaepernick to 32 rushing yards in the second half, including 4 scramble yards.[+]
Colin Kaepernick Rushing, Sunday
--The 49ers blew a 10-point lead for the first time this season and the first time with Colin Kaepernick at quarterback. The Seahawks have won all three games this season when trailing by 10 or more points. --In the first half, Russell Wilson was pressured on 53% of his dropbacks, including four sacks. In the second half, Wilson was pressured on 23% of his dropbacks with zero sacks. - "Under pressure" is defined as under duress, hit while throwing or sacked. --Russell Wilson was 6-of-7 for 106 yards (15.1 yards per attempt) when targeting Doug Baldwin. On all other throws, Wilson was 10-of-18 for 109 yards (6.1 yards per attempt).
After being held to a FG on their opening drive, the 49ers now have one touchdown in six red zone trips against the Seahawks this season.
The Seahawks sent four or fewer pass rushers on all 30 of Colin Kaepernick's dropbacks Sunday, the most dropbacks a quarterback has had in a game this season without being blitzed. Kaepernick has found success against standard pressure in his career, just not against the Seahawks. Entering Sunday, Colin Kaepernick had been the most blitzed quarterback in the NFL over the last two seasons (including playoffs), facing five or more pass rushers on 39% of his dropbacks.[+]
Colin Kaepernick Facing 4 or Fewer Pass Rushers, Career (Inc. Playoffs)
"Beast Mode" was in full force Sunday as Marshawn Lynch racked up 107 of his 109 rushing yards between the tackles. The 107 rushing yards between the tackles are the most by any player against the 49ers over the last 5 seasons including both the regular season and playoffs.[+]
Much has been made about Colin Kaepernick's struggles against the Seahawks four-man pass rush, but Russell Wilson hasn't been able to solve the 49ers four-man rush either. Wilson is completing less than 50 percent of his passes against the 49ers standard pass rush in his career, compared to more than 65 percent against all other teams.[+]
Russell Wilson Facing 4 or Fewer Rushers - Career (Including Playoffs)
Kaepernick completed 2-of-9 passes for 33 yards when throwing outside the painted numbers Sunday, including both of his interceptions. The Seahawks defense leads the league in most categories outside the painted numbers this season.[+]
Seahawks Defense Outside Painted Numbers, This Season (Inc. Playoffs)
Marshawn Lynch has the 3 longest TD runs in Seahawks postseason history. This one-- 40 yards-- was 2nd-longest (67-yards vs Saints in 2010)
Russell Wilson was sacked or under duress on 9 of his 17 first-half dropbacks (53%).
The 49ers' 86-yard TD drive against the Seahawks is San Francisco's 2nd-longest TD drive on the road this season, and the 4th-longest overall.
The Broncos and Seahawks both won at MetLife Stadium during the regular season. This is only the 2nd Super Bowl in which both participants won at that year's Super Bowl venue in that same regular season. In 2009, the Colts and Saints each won at Land Shark Stadium against the Dolphins.
Colin Kaepernick posted a Total QBR of 6.2 in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship, down from 93.2 in the first three quarters and the second-lowest Total QBR in any quarter in his playoff career.[+]
Lowest Total QBR in Quarter - Colin Kaepernick Playoff Career
Colin Kaepernick now has three of the four longest postseason rushes by a quarterback since 2001.[+]
The 49ers have sacked Russell Wilson 4 times in the 1st half. That already matches the 49ers' season high of 4 sacks against Russell Wilson on Sept. 15. And that matches the Seahawks' season-high for sacks allowed in a half (done twice, at the Rams in Week 8, vs the Cardinals in Week 17).
Including Sunday, there have been 503 postseason games in NFL history which means 1,006 quarterback starts. In 6 starts, Colin Kaepernick has rushed for 100 yards twice, the same number as in 1,000 starts by all other quarterbacks. Starting Quarterbacks In NFL Postseason History Kaepernick All Others Starts 6 1,000 100-yd rush games 2<< 2 >>Includes Sunday
Russell Wilson becomes the 6th quarterback to start in a Super Bowl in his first or second season. 1st Or 2nd Year QBs To Start In Super Bowl Career W-L In SB XLVIII Russell Wilson ?? XLVII Colin Kaepernick 0-1 XL Ben Roethlisberger 2-1 XXXVI Tom Brady 3-2 XXXIV Kurt Warner 1-2 XIX Dan Marino 0-1 >>Wilson: 2nd season in NFL
ESPN Stats & Information