Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports



The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry will be renewed on Sunday, albeit with the luster gone from previous matchups in the series. The Niners are playing for pride and momentum heading into the offseason, while the Seahawks are preparing for another postseason appearance.

Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick led the team back from 14 points down with slightly over ten minutes to play last Saturday as the team defeated The Los Angeles Rams 22-21, and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, along with several of the defenders tasked with stopping Kaepernick this Sunday, noticed the difference in his play from the last time they saw him in person in 2015.

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"Colin has looked really effective and he's back to playing comfortably and running and throwing and scrambling and doing all that stuff. He's got a pretty good passer rating, touchdowns to interceptions is really good, so he's that threat again that he's been in the past with the offense they run where there's a lot of options in there for him to take it, it fits very well," Carroll stated. "That's what catches my attention is that Colin is back doing the stuff that he knows how to do and he really looks effective." Kaepernick's touchdown to interception ratio of 3.8 (15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions) is 7th best in the NFL this season.

Defensive end Cliff Avril, who leads the Seahawks in sacks with 11.5, noted that Kaepernick has even improved in one key area from his earlier, more prolific days in the league. "He's trying to sit in the pocket a little more, a little more different from his earlier years where if the first read wasn't there he's taking off with it," Avril observed. "But he can still hurt you with his feet. If he doesn't see the first two or three reads, he's going to take off with it and get a lot of yards if you're not careful."

All-pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, who will find himself matching wits Kaepernick for much of Sunday's game from his position in the middle noted, "He looks a little bit more confident in his throws."

Defensive end Michael Bennett added, "He's done a good job of getting the passing game going. I think he's been probably their best offensive player so far when they got an opportunity, when he started playing. I think him not playing at the beginning kind of slowed the team down a bit."

The Niners are 9.5 point underdogs in the game, which kicks off at 1:25 PT at Levi's Stadium on Sunday.