By Zach Walker
San Francisco 49ers vs Seattle Seahawks
Sunday – January 19 – 5:30 PM
CenturyLink Field – Seattle
How did these teams get here?
The 49ers and Seattle both beat their opponents by the scoring same amount of points, 23 points apiece. The 49ers defeated the Carolina Panthers by playing a great game on defense, controlling Cam Newton in the pocket and limiting what he could have picked up on the run. The 49ers stopped the run heavy Panthers in the red zone twice and held them on those 2 attempts to only 3 points, forcing the ball over on downs on the first red zone attempt. The 49ers were able to get to Cam Newton, forcing 5 sacks and 2 interceptions. The Seattle Seahawks won by taking advantage of bad plays by the New Orleans Saints, an abysmal punt, a missed field goal, and a Mark Ingram fumble lead to a 13 point early lead. The Seahawks didn’t rely on the arm talent of Russell Wilson, who only threw 18 passes completing only half of them for 103 yards, but leaned heavily on Marshawn Lynch. Lynch had everything going for him, he was seeing the entire field, side-stepping defenders, and having a “Beast-mode” game.
How can these teams win?
San Francisco 49ers: The Anquan Boldin trade looks to have been the smartest move in the offseason, because in the playoffs, when the game starts to really tighten up, Boldin is always there on critical downs. Then you’ll have to factor in Vernon Davis, who has 7 touchdowns in his postseason career, which is tied for the post-season touchdowns by a tight end record. Colin Kaepernick is a different monster in the playoffs, having only lost in the Super Bowl, and doesn’t make the same mistakes he does in the regular season, but has thrown 14 interceptions against the Seahawks. The 49ers have the ability to totally neutralize the Seahawks powerful rushing attack with their outstanding group of linebackers, probably the best group in the league. Navarro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, and the always All-Pro Patrick Willis can contain a destructive run game. The 49ers’ pass rush has to play the line of scrimmage like they played the Panthers’, leaving no gaps for the quarterback to escape and pick up extra yards.
Seattle Seahawks: Winning the battles in the trenches is how the Seahawks win games. The Seahawks offensive line isn’t great, but the way they play makes them formidable. And when the Seahawks defensive line lines up against the 49ers offensive line, that’s the game, which ever group wins that matchup, will win the game. The way the defensive backs play the 49ers receivers is going to be trouble for Kaepernick, the press coverage against Crabtree and Boldin should mess up the timing enough for Earl Thomas to do what he does, disrupt. The way that Thomas played the ball against the Saints was amazing, the timing was perfect. The 49ers are going to have to find a to get signals to the offense for their audibles, because this game is going to get loud.
Prediction: San Francisco 17 – Seattle 21