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' pressure—and, thankfully, running a much more "modern" passing game—put 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.