Keys to the game
A Gore-y sight
The stats of San Francisco running back Frank Gore have often been the clearest indicator of which team has had the upper hand in recent Seahawks-49ers clashes. Gore was held to 16 yards on nine carries in Seattle’s 29-3 victory Sept. 15 over the 49ers at CenturyLink Field, but had 110 on 17 in San Francisco’s 19-17 triumph over the Seahawks on Dec. 8 at Candlestick Park. Which side wins the battle up front might be more of a factor than anything Gore does. Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and end Red Bryant simply had their way with the 49ers in the first game and will look to do so again.
Simply put, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had two of the worst games of his career at CenturyLink Field, going a combined 32 of 64 for 371 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and a lost fumble. That includes a three-interception game in Seattle’s victory in September, the only time Kaepernick has thrown more than one interception in a game in his career. San Francisco, though, has a healthier and deeper receiving corps now that figures to give Kaepernick more options. Kaepernick comes into the game off two steady, if unspectacular, games in the playoffs, a combined 31 of 58 for 423 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in triumphs at Green Bay and Carolina, while also rushing 15 times for 113 yards.
While Kaepernick has played pretty well down the stretch, Russell Wilson has been uncharacteristically erratic, including the 9-for-18 performance last weekend against the Saints in which he was off target on a few occasions on short timing throws. Percy Harvin’s absence takes away a receiving threat who could have added to the Seattle attack. Harvin had three receptions last week in less than a half before leaving with a concussion that will keep him out against the 49ers. So Wilson will work with the same receiving corps as he has most of the season. He had success in the first game against the 49ers using his legs to create some big plays. The 49ers did a better job containing him in the pocket in the game in San Francisco, something more opponents have been able to do lately.