The San Francisco 49ers are back in the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive year under head coach Jim Harbaugh. On Sunday afternoon, they will face the Seattle Seahawks and the daunting “12th Man” for a chance to punch their ticket to MetLife Stadium and Super Bowl XLVIII. Playing at Century Link Field isn’t an easy task but the 49ers are equipped to go in and leave with a win.
The two teams were clearly the two top teams in the NFC, and it’s only right that they meet for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The teams split the season series, the Seahawks crushed the 49ers at home, while San Francisco pulled off a two-point win at Candlestick Park.
This 49ers team can take down the Seahawks and the “12th Man”. How? The 49ers are experienced and are built for physical postseason matchups like this.
In my opinion, quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the difference maker. Kaepernick knows that Seattle is a tough place to play. Seattle has won both games by a difference of 55 points. In fact, the 49ers have only scored one touchdown in their last two trips to Seattle. Kaepernick will have to put his past performances in Seattle behind him and ride the wave of recent success that he and the 49ers have achieved. Kaep will again be asked to make plays with his legs and his arm. The key for Kaep is to not turn the ball over.
The 49ers are hot as they come, winning eight straight games, making them the hottest team left in the postseason. Being the hottest team usually fairs well in the postseason.
The main reason for the streak, outside the play of Kaepernick, is that the 49ers have dominated the running game and played their brand of physical defense. Running back Frank Gore takes a lot of pressure off of Kaepernick and head coach Jim Harbaurgh. The running game is a huge reason why Harbaugh is the first coach in NFL history to take his team to three consecutive conference championship games in his first three seasons. The 49ers have finished among the league’s leaders in rushing during the Harbaugh era. Kaepernick and Gore’s ability to run the ball against one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses will be key.
The 49ers defense matches up perfectly with the Seahawks offense. The 49ers have the best group of linebackers in the league and have arguably the best front seven in the league as well. It will be key from them to stop Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. The Seahawks offense goes as Lynch goes.
Stopping Lynch will put the ball in the hands of quarterback Russell Wilson, who has struggled of late. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers can apply the same amount of pressure on Wilson like they did Cam Newton last week. I believe they can.
Both teams are evenly matched, no matter how you look at it—scheme, stats, players, and coaches. The 49ers are more than capable of winning Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, nevertheless, Sunday’s game should be one of the best games of the season.