Go ahead. You can admit it.
No one's going to judge you here; your feelings make all the sense in the world. Only a few short weeks ago, the Super Bowl looked like an absolute lock. And now you're feeling it slipping away. You're being totally reasonable; any observer would understand.
So go ahead. You can admit it.
You can admit, that you are afraid.
Please, trust us, we know how it went. During wild-card week, you rooted like mad for the Packers to beat us. You probably felt pretty confident, that the subzero wind-chill would put us away. After all, having barely escaped road-games against lowly teams like the Texans and Rams, that trip to Lambeau would've destroyed
you. And the officials certainly gave you a tease, stringing you out all the way to the end. But sorry. The Niners won, and they also proved something.
Tough outdoor conditions? They will not stop us.
And then, of course, came divisional week. You probably felt pretty proud of yourselves, having dispatched the soggy Saints, as if that really meant anything. The Saints' showing in Philly hadn't done much to dispel their reputation as a team that melts in the cold and muck, and sure enough, as soon as they felt the first drops of rain, they started giving the game away. Certainly you didn't win
the game, not when you gave up 400 yards. Instead the Saints lost
it, and then off you went to cheer for the Panthers.
Again, I'll bet that you felt pretty good. The Panthers were at home and rested, and they'd also won 11 of 12, including a road-game over the Niners. In that one, their pass-rush had overwhelmed Colin Kaepernick, inducing Trent Dilfer to say that the young QB becomes "remedial" when his first read is covered. After Green Bay, though, Dilfer issued a retraction, noting that we'd been running a "1970s passing game" where Kaepernick often was given
one read. But now, with Michael Crabtree back on the field, Kaepernick was "letting it rip, making big-time throws into contested coverage and getting the ball out of his hand."
So now, it seemed, Kaepernick's struggles against Carolina were actually a function of play-design and receiving corps. (Gee, I wonder where Dilfer got that idea
The point is, we aren't the team we were back then, and the Panthers would be the first to agree. Early on, their defense tried to intimidate us, but as Kaepernick had said in September, that's not a plan that's likely to work. Our offense, much better prepared for the Panthers' pressureand, thankfully, running a much more "modern" passing gameput up back-to-back touchdowns sandwiching halftime, which were more than enough, thanks to a D that did its own
intimidating, with two goal-line stands and a second-half shutout.
So again, sorry. The Niners won, and they proved something else.
More rested opponents? They will not stop us.
So now it all comes down to this, as many observers expected it would. Niners-Seahawks. The rubber match, for the Super Bowl. And you can admit, that you are afraid.
Sure, you'll probably try to convince yourselves. You'll start by simply reciting two numbers, which we'll hear again and again this week: "71 to 16," the aggregate score of our last two visits. Two impressive routs to be sure, and thoroughly irrelevant now. As I just got done saying, we aren't the team we were back then, so the score might as well have been 400-zip. It absolutely doesn't mean squat.
What matters is how we're playing now. You know that we've won eight games in a row, but you probably don't
know that we've hit 300 yards in each of those games. You haven't hit 300 yards in any of your last three
games, all of which you've played at home. Offensively, we've got the edge.
Plus, as I said, you just gave up more than 400 yards, at home and in the pouring rain. (And that's even despite the cheating
!) Meanwhile, despite going on the road against two high-powered playoff Os, we gave up basically 300 each. With the way you've
been playing, you'll be lucky to pick up half that much. Defensively, too, we've got the edge.
Basically, your secret's out. Against your D, use quick throws out of bunch formations that ensure clean releases off the line, and then follow up with runs down your throat. And against your O, focus on stopping Marshawn Lynch, and make Russell Wilson try to beat you from the pocket. It's a fairly simple formula, though not many teams can do all that. But as you know, the Niners can. And as you know, the Niners will.
All that's left is all you've got: your much-ballyhooed 12th man. Good lord, enough already. News flash: you aren't any louder than the average set of drunken fans
. You're just sitting in a stadium that was intentionally designed to bounce the noise off the roof and onto the field. It's physics, not fandom, so stop taking credit for it.
But trust us, by now we're pretty accustomed to it. For last year's title game, the Georgia Dome was plenty loud. Didn't matter. Streamline your communications, score a touchdown or two, and the crowd will barely make a sound. This is the playoffs
, folks. We know this is sort of new to you, but trust us again: gimmicks don't work at this stage of the game. The experts who say we can't win up there are the same experts who said the Giants couldn't win in Green Bay, and the Ravens couldn't win in Denver. It doesn't matter where the game is. The team on a roll is the team that wins. And we, right now, are the team on a roll. And you are fully aware of that.
Your time might be coming, but your time isn't now. We've been chasing this for three long years, getting closer with every step. A title game loss, then a Super Bowl loss. And after this season of ups and downs, now the stage is perfectly set. For the final step, to the ultimate redemption.
So go ahead. Bring your noise, if that's all you've got. Because we know the truth, and really, deep down, you know it too.
This is our time. And you will not stop us.
By: Bill P
Date: January 23, 2014 at 11:14 AM
Comment: Well gee, it's nice to root for our team. I like the Niners too, but I don't think it's very classy to degrade another good team like the Seahawks like you did. Now knowing how well they played against us and how poorly our QB did against their D, it's embarrassing.
Congratulations Seattle and good luck against the Broncs.
By: George D
Date: January 18, 2014 at 5:03 AM
Comment: Nice article. Well-written with good cadence and pregnant pauses. You really put the fear of God into them! Only not with hell-fire and brimstone, but with simple Truth -- which is even more powerful. I feel a blowout on the way, as the 49ers are just way too balanced all-around. There is simply NO VISIBLE WEAKNESS, whereas Seattle has several. PLUS -- that gnawing feeling of loss from last year, is THE greatest motivator. Everything else pales in comparison, and Seattle does not have that. 31-10 payback?
Date: January 17, 2014 at 10:06 PM
Comment: I am a Cowboys fan living in Seattle. Give me all the crap you want for being a Dallas fan, that will never change. Pulled for the Niners in the Super Bowl and I am definitely pulling for them this Sunday. I cannot stand Seahawks fans (they have no clue), Kaepernick is a stud and I have always liked Harbaugh. So for yet another playoff season I am pulling for the Niners, please do not just beat them, rout them!
Date: January 17, 2014 at 9:45 AM
Comment: The Niners are a completely different and far more potent team than the one that was beaten in Seattle in September. The Squawks won't know what hit them.
Date: January 16, 2014 at 9:27 PM
Comment: My thoughts exactly. We will take home-field advantage away from them. They can't stop us.
Date: January 16, 2014 at 6:47 AM
Comment: Great article Jeff! You got me fired up! Every week I got some hater telling me, this is our last week, but after reading this, I am with you Jeff. We are going to rip Seattle! GOLD BLOODED NINERS!!!
Date: January 15, 2014 at 8:34 PM
Comment: Oh, how I eagerly await all of your articles, and you never disappoint!!! Unfortunately, I am living in enemy territory. It's not a fun place to be when you are a 49er fan, hearing all the smack-talking, even on the local news. Your article had me laughing so hard! You really nailed it. Thank you again for a job well done! Go Niners!!!
By: 49ers ALLDAYEVERYDAY
Date: January 15, 2014 at 12:21 PM
Comment: Well said.....and all of it, it's so true and the 49ers will prevail....love my Niners! sooooooobring it on baby!
By: i love 49ers
Date: January 15, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Comment: i don't care what seahawks fans say, you don't know what us 49ers fans been thru, our time is now and the only shout out there be us whoop you guys, youre looking at the next super bowl champions, 49ers baby, whos got it better than us, nobody, and you can bank on that one too.
By: Darrell G
Date: January 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Comment: This. This is what keeps me coming back for more Jeff.
Well written and stated. Go 9ers !
Date: January 15, 2014 at 8:59 AM
Comment: I was waiting for you to post an article to this effect. Got me fired up over here. Rest assured though, the 49ers offense must continue to click better, stop burning timeouts, and get pay dirt in the early going. Let's Go Niners!
By: Ron michaud
Date: January 15, 2014 at 7:38 AM
Comment: Kaplan always brings my emotions to tears... Is he a soothsayer? Brilliant piece of writing..... How to beat the hawks. Simple concise and accurate. I'm a nervous wreck waiting for the game. Thank you for providing the flashlight. I can now visualize a W.
Date: January 15, 2014 at 7:19 AM
Comment: Nationally, the 49ers have been pretty much ignored all season. That's OK, come this weekend that will change. The 49er-Seahawk rivalry is the best in today's NFL, and the TV ratings could set records.
Date: January 15, 2014 at 6:11 AM
Comment: Excellent lead up to the NFC Championship game and oh so true! They ARE afraid. Very afraid. And we're excited. VERY excited. GO NINERS!! QUESTFORSIX!!!
By: Marty Hill
Date: January 15, 2014 at 2:23 AM
Comment: Before last weekends game Seattle announced they were starting a rookie LG for the first time. Not good. Saints lost, but they sacked Wilson 4 times. Wilson was held to 100 yards passing. Could not stop Lynch.
49ers sacked Cam 5 times. They should dominate Seattle's OL. In the 29 to 3 loss, 49ers defense sacked Wilson 3 times & dominated him. Kaep's 4 turnovers & his terrible play is what lost that game.
I guess Kaepernick will be the deciding factor of this game. He can win it for the 49ers or he will lose it for the 49ers.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 11:41 PM
Comment: Well written! I've seen nothing impressive from the chickens' pass offense; as you said jeff, stop Lynch and end of story. Expect to see more read option from Wilson. By the way, Q. Patton is growing fast, i like the guy, he had a couple of great blocks against the panthers! Who do you think sherman will be covering? I hope crabtree beats him time and time again. As a side note, I am glad some hawks fans are noting that we already have 5.... How many do they have?
Date: January 14, 2014 at 10:24 PM
Comment: Mr. Kaplan, I wish every Hawk fan up here (Im surrounded, egad) could read this. Wonderfully written, nothing homeristic about it, just the truth. I work at KJR 950 Sportsradio in Seattle, the overconfidence is rampant, everyone is calling for a severe throttling of the red and gold. And yes, I am the most hated man in the building. Destiny, thy name is Gore, Willis, Smith, Bowman, Staley....
By: chris howard
Date: January 14, 2014 at 9:34 PM
Comment: I can't say it any better. You nailed every point with FACTs. Amazing article....We will win it all this year. #ForeverFaithful #Questforsix
By: duane urban
Date: January 14, 2014 at 9:27 PM
Comment: It sure makes me laugh. It's ok for the cheathawk fans to keep bringing up the last two games in Seattle, but when it is pointed out that they have ZERO rings to our FIVE we're bringing up the past. WHAT?!?!?!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 8:37 PM
Comment: Can't wait to see the article you will write in the event the Niners lose. It will no doubt be the ref's fault, or the crowd noise, or aliens from another planet. If all those fail then likely as not you'll find a way to blame the ghost of Alex Smith.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 8:34 PM
Comment: I give you credit seahack fans. You are truly stubborn to the very end. Even when confronted by harsh truth. We shall continue our quest for 6. Good luck for your search for 1 lmao.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 7:26 PM
Comment: amazing article, well written and totally true. we shared it on our billboard page.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 6:43 PM
Comment: Wow. After reading this I wanna put a helmet on and go out to play in that stadium in front of those overrated fans.
By: Mizz Bobbie
Date: January 14, 2014 at 5:47 PM
Comment: Well written, Jeff Kaplan!! We all know it's true! I'm so pumped up right now!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 5:32 PM
Comment: I can't stop smiling right now :) Go 9ers and the Kaeped Crusader/Superman!! #SinkTheClink --> #QuestForSix !!!!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 5:07 PM
Comment: I am truly at a loss for words. This is such an amazing article. It has pumped me up for Sunday's game. I can't wait to see my Niners defeat the Seahags and their 12th man. #goNiners!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 4:28 PM
Comment: OMG!!! I so wish I could just shake the hand of the writer of this article! With all the haters/critics of The 49ers, this was just the "breath of fresh air" that I needed to fuel up (into HIGH gear) my excitement for Sunday. The overwhelming hatred from the critics/haters is all I seemed to see on TV/read on paper. I so believe that our team is on a mission, and it has been a long 3 years OVERDUE. It IS our year. I can feel it stronger than I did last year. Thank you for writing such an eloquent, honest, and motivating article!!! Kudos! And #go49ers!!!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 4:13 PM
Comment: Let's get it. As fans we should have no doubt in our team, we are not quitters!!!! just like Kaep kisses his arm, he kisses his faith!! c'mon niners!!
By: Dallas Niner Fan
Date: January 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM
Comment: Jeff, I think this is your best article yet, wow, I am pumped big time. From the beginning of the season we all knew it would come down to this. I am tired of all the baloney from She Hawk fans. The Niners are going to shut them up quick. This game will go down in Niners history, we cannot be denied. Go Niners!!!!
By: Anna Paganelis
Date: January 14, 2014 at 4:03 PM
Comment: I hardly call myself a football enthusiast, especially after the fact that my son (Bill Frangieh) was for a while a 49 himself.....All I have to say is that lately I am falling in LOVE with them 9ers and not afraid to show it! I watched the Packers game and even though I have no idea how the game is played (even after ALL these years) I was on the edge of my seat and rooted with all my heart for MY team!! GO 49s!!!!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:49 PM
Comment: Let's go #49ers #Ninernation, this just pump me up, funk that 12th man bs
By: Trevor Murray
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM
Comment: I have been a Niners fan all of my life...I have watched over the years how our team has struggled and fought from behind, dumping coach after coach in the Alex Smith era...we started to improve there. When Harbaugh came in and took over, he trained Alex and he believed in him...I liked Smith, he was classy, talented, and a true pro. When Smith went down, and I saw that first NFL start of Colin's career vs the Bears on Monday night, I was blown away by Kaep's talent. Since then, the Niners haven't looked back...we have been getting better and better. The NFC championship game vs the Giants was a tough loss to handle...last year's Super bowl loss was even harder...but the fact of the matter is, we keep on getting better...we are talking dynasty potential now...not just winning it, but winning it in bunches. Colin is the Niners' future; with Crab and Boldin and Vernon, we have the most talented offense in football. It is our time this year, I cannot wait because I hate Seattle and I hate their fans...the 12th man still doesn't have a championship under their wings...guess what? They still won't! GO NINERS! BEAT THE SHEHAWKS...
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:28 PM
Comment: I like this article and I DO hope the Niners stomp through Seattle and say: "It's just another step to the SB." I'm a Niner fan living in WA. So trust me, I hear it all the time about the 12th man. How loud they are and they never get respect. I had 3 friends who RARELY if ever posted about the seahawks in the last few years COMPLAIN after their last win against the Saints on Facebook. "When is the media going to quit dissing on the seahawks?" (That quote is from my pastor) "Why do the tv announcers always say the other team is having an off day when the seahawks are winning?" "Why can't the announcers admit that the seahawks are a great team?" Oh, and I heard from a friend (who's neither a seahawks fan nor a Niner fan) that the 12th man booed them when they finally lost a regular season home game in the last 2 years to the Cardinals.
I know they're a great team, this year. Last year it was bliss to see them lose to the Falcons in the playoffs. And I KNOW my friends were hoping my Niners were going to do the same thing this year now that our records were reversed. The seahawks are a great team, it's their "fans" I can't stand.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:22 PM
Comment: Actually, I feel more confident for this game than I felt for the Green Bay game. Everyone was picking us then. Not so much now. When I saw the "Pete Carroll is a Genius" story on CBS Sportsline this morning, I just smiled. Go ahead, keep dumping on us. We like it.
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:20 PM
Comment: I love it! Seattle seems (especially their fans) awfully cocky for a team that hasn't won anything. I hope they are better losers than they have shown when they win! The Panthers were loud and obnoxious when the game started, talking big and loud. That didn't seem to translate to good football! Go Niners
By: vinny v
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:12 PM
Comment: This just pumped me up! Go Niners!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 3:07 PM
Comment: Yes Seattle "chickenhawks." Be afraid...Be very afraid. The NINERS are coming and wont leave without the WIN!!! GO NINERS!!!! QUESTFOR6!!!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 2:59 PM
Comment: YES!!! Truth! Great article!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 2:48 PM
Comment: Like poetry! I feel a tear down my face - Go 9ers!!!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 2:46 PM
Comment: Awesome article!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 2:17 PM
Comment: Pumped up baby, great article!
Date: January 14, 2014 at 2:04 PM
By: Jeff P
Date: January 14, 2014 at 1:45 PM
Comment: I don't think this article was needed. I'd rather have the Seahawks fans in total disbelief if they lose on Sunday. The Seahawks and the media are setting up the Hawks to lose since they have the tendency to get overconfident. Does "Glorified Practice" ring a bell to anyone?
By: ed arroyo
Date: January 14, 2014 at 1:41 PM
Comment: Nice, nothin but the true, i love it. Go 49ers!!!