5 Burning Questions For The NFC Championship

Jan 17, 2014 at 10:41 AM

Are you ready for round 3? The 49ers and Seahawks will meet up Sunday for the NFL's version of heavyweight boxing with a trip to New York for Super Bowl XVLIII on the line. These two teams have been the class of the NFC this season, and this game has been on the horizon since teams began training camp back in August.

For Seattle, their focus has been on getting to this point for over a year. After losing to Atlanta in the Divisional round last season, Pete Carroll told his team, "This is why we need to get home field advantage." Mission accomplished.

The 49ers have been all about getting the opportunity to get back to the Super Bowl to pick up those last 5 yards. They've survived playing without their best wide receiver for the first eleven games of the season, without their best pass rusher for five weeks early in the season, and losing their fullback late in the season to get themselves in this position.

Let's get to the 5 burning questions to which the answers will be key to the outcome of the game.

1) Can the defense keep the ball away from Marshawn Lynch?

Twenty five carries. That appears to be the magic number for Lynch and the Seahawks. If Lynch can get to that number on Sunday, the Seahawks will win. Over the last six games between the 49ers and Seahawks, Lynch has carried the ball 25 times or more twice. The Seahawks won both games.

If the 49ers are able to keep the ball out of Lynch's hands it would mean the 49ers are controlling the tempo and time of possession, both of which have gotten away from them during their recent trips to Seattle.

2) Can the 49ers offense score more than 19 points?

Since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach of the 49ers his offense has not scored more than 19 points against Seattle. They haven't scored more than 1 offensive touchdown in any game against the Seahawks. Can they change that with a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII on the line?

The other question here would be, "Does it matter?" The way the 49ers defense played last week it may not matter.

3) Will Roman get Gore involved?

Frank Gore has been given the ball 15 times combined over the last two trips to Century Link Field. The last time the 49ers defeated the Seahawks in Seattle was week 16 of the 2011 season. In that game, Frank Gore carried the ball 23 times for 86 yards and the 49ers lone touchdown.

The 49ers must show a commitment to the running game to win on Sunday.

4) Will the defense be able to contain Russell Wilson?

I'm not talking about keeping his stats down here, rather containing him in the pocket. With his small stature Wilson often is at his best when he can move around. The key for the 49ers pass rush this weekend will be to maintain their rush lanes and force Wilson to beat them from the pocket. It all starts with getting a good push up the middle to put guys in his face, and then for the defensive ends to not get deeper than he is. Force him to step up, but don't get too deep to where he can escape up the middle, and then get your hands up.

5) Can Colin Kaepernick beat the Seahawks with his arm?

The Seahawks have blitzed Colin Kaepernick on only 13.9% of drop backs in their two games this season. Against all other opponents Kaepernick has faced a blitz on 31% of his drops. That's a significant difference.

The Seahawks want to force Kaepernick to beat them from the pocket with his arm instead of with his legs, and they have done a very good job with it over the first 3 games against the 49ers young signal caller.

Pete Carroll and Dan Quinn are betting that they can take away Kaepernick's first read and make him drop his eyes to find somewhere to run. Over the last 2 games in Seattle, they have done a great job of dictating where Kaepernick will escape, usually to his left, and have been very successful.

On the flip side, this is the playoffs and Kaepernick has shown a unique ability to step up his play in big games. Can he change the pattern?

Prediction Time:

49ers 13 Seahawks 16
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • beegee
    Playoffs are more about momentum and less about season stats. 49ers have the momentum. Seattle is stalling. Easy win for the Niners.
    Jan 19, 2014 at 10:40 AM
  • Ron
    Throw the stats out the window. Who is playin better in the last month on both sides of the ball. The underlining current here is one of these teams are winning and refuse to be denied. One of these teams have been here several times in recent years. They know what's it feels like to win and lose. One of these teams are not afraid to throw it all down. You tell me which team is mentally prepared?
    Jan 18, 2014 at 6:17 AM
    Response: How do you see the 49ers moving the ball? The offense has looked completely overmatched the last two trips to the CLink. We are all tired of hearing about the crowd noise, but it really causes the 49ers a lot of trouble. They look 2 steps slower up there.
  • Sky Malotte
    I'm an absolute die hard 49er fan, anyone who has a problem with this article doesn't know football, I hope the niners win, but I'm being realistic, just as the writer is. I think the niners will win but it's more of a hope
    Jan 18, 2014 at 5:17 AM
  • Andrew
    I have no problem like some of the guys on here with you predicting a Seahawks win... Some of these guys act like you must not be a Niners fan as a result? Nuts. As a side point though, I've always disagreed with stats such as if Frank Gore carries the ball 25 times or more, the Niners are 14-1; same with Lynch or any other running back. I agree it is important to show a commital to the run, even if down (by a little) in the second half. However, when you are winning, you are more likely to feed the beast.. Did they really win those games because they gave him the ball that much, or did they give him the ball that much because they were winning? He always carries more when we are ahead, and whenever we are ahead, we are statistically already more likely to win. I feel like that is one of the most commonly misrepresented stats. Just giving him the ball on a day when they are getting 8 men in the box and bad looks and bad results likely won't equal a victory, even if they hit the magic number of carries. Good article though
    Jan 17, 2014 at 9:53 PM
    Response: Thanks. On that side point, I understand what you are saying but a running back isn't going to get to 25 carries just by running the ball late in games to run out the clock. To get to that many carries they need to be fed the ball throughout the game as well. Teams that are committed to the run give the 49ers defense a lot of trouble, and it will be interesting to see if Seattle goes back to that on Sunday.
  • Erik
    Go niners!
    Jan 17, 2014 at 8:18 PM
  • Chad Wendt
    This game is so hard to pick. I am a die hard 49ers fan for 25 years and have a high level of anxiety for this weekend. I have the utmost confidence in our defense, but that is irrelevant if we cannot possess the ball. My biggest concern is offensive execution and management of time outs. We got lucky the last two games in that the TOs weren't important at the end of the game. If the 49ers limit false starts and are close to 50% on third down they will win.
    Jan 17, 2014 at 3:33 PM
  • Phil
    Niners website, Niners Article, Niners writer.... Yet you have the seagulls winning. Someone should seriously fire you! Go write for Seattle with that BS & get this garbage of an "article" off a Pro Niners website. What a tool! More like By Jack Hammer @intheclosetseagullfan
    Jan 17, 2014 at 2:56 PM
    Response: Calling me a tool? Did you not notice my last name?
  • matt
    the niners scored 33 points in Harbaugh's first matchup against Seattle. http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2011091110/2011/REG1/[email protected]#menu=highlights&tab=recap
    Jan 17, 2014 at 2:54 PM
    Response: Yes they did, but the offense only scored 19 of those. The final 14 came on Ted Ginn returns.
  • Paul A.
    Jack, Nice as always. The defense has been playing lights out and will continue to play at high level , limiting the number of touches for Lynch. The offense wiil "Pop" this sunday. 9ers 31-16...SB here they come!
    Jan 17, 2014 at 2:45 PM
    Response: Thank you Paul. I like your outcome better.
  • sunmas1
    All the stat between these two teams do not matter; this is Championship Football Baby!!! GONINERS!!!
    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:36 PM
  • Dominic
    Ouch. Predicting a Seahawks win huh? Unlike you, I have a lot more faith in what the 49ers are now. They win 24-10.
    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:33 PM
  • Sean
    You should have put you're prediction at the top so I could have not wasted my time reading the article.
    Jan 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM
    Response: Since I didn't predict a 49ers win the rest is a waste?
  • Ceadderman
    So long as the Defense stuffs Skittles boy and keep him contained he can carry the ball 100 times for all I care. Carries do not equate Wins. Giving up 5 yards a carry and allowing his downfield blocking to hold on every carry will. Our DBs' need to identify when they are being held and draw the flag when it happens. Cause their Receivers WILL be holding. It happened against the Saints and it WILL happen to us. If it means taking themselves out of the tackle lane so be it. Pull away and show those punks for what they are. Lynch is formidable to bring down as it is. The Fleahawks get away with A LOT of extra curricular activity past the LoS and it's high time to expose those cheaters for what they are. Contain their Run Game Defensively and Control the Clock on Offense and the Win will be their at the final gun.
    Jan 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM
    Response: The number of carries is important to time of possession. The 49ers are 2-8-1 under Harbaugh when the opponent runs the ball 30+ times, they were 1-8-1 before the GB game. I agree with your last sentence.
  • Jose L
    Based on your prediction I'm assuming your answer to these questions is a "no." 49ers 24-Seahawks 20
    Jan 17, 2014 at 11:12 AM
    Response: We'll find out the answers together on Sunday.

Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

Round Table: Predicting the 49ers' record and place in the NFC West standings

By Site Staff
Sep 8, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to begin an unprecedented 2020 campaign. It could be very unpredictable as the team, along with 31 other NFL squads, navigates a season impacted by COVID-19. San Francisco is coming off a devastating Super Bowl defeat and has its sights set on returning to and winning the big game. First, it will need to win the NFC West and fight for playoff position in a reworked format that will feature only one team per conference with a bye week. We asked the 49ers Webzone staff to predict the Niners' final regular-season record and placement in the NFC West standings. Below are the responses in the order in which they were received. Sterling Bennett Record: 12-4 Note: First place in the

Read the Full Article

'I trust Russell Wilson over Jimmy Garoppolo': Peter King picks Seahawks over 49ers in NFC West

By David Bonilla
Sep 7, 2020

Peter Schrager of Good Morning Football recently called the San Francisco 49ers one of the most disrespected conference champions in recent memory. With the regular season less than a week away, the disrespect seemingly continues. Not only is Peter King of NBC Sports not picking San Francisco to win the NFC, but he doesn't even envision the team winning its division. King has the 49ers earning the No. 5 seed in the conference and the Seattle Seahawks winning the NFC West. The reason? Quarterbacks. "San Francisco, up by two scores with eight minutes left in the Super Bowl and with so many key guys returning, is a

Read the Full Article

49ers begin 2020 season in last place within NFC West

By David Bonilla
Sep 13, 2020

The San Francisco 49ers were the lone NFC West squad that failed to win its 2020 opener. Kyle Shanahan's team lost 24-20 to the Arizona Cardinals at Levi's Stadium. Earlier on Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Atlanta Falcons 38-25. Later, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 in the first game at SoFi Stadium — albeit without fans to watch. That means the 49ers start their 2020 season, which the team was so eager to begin as it attempts to make amends from February's Super Bowl loss, in last place within the NFC West.

Read the Full Article


More Featured Stories

More by Jack Hammer

All Articles by Jack Hammer

More Articles

All Articles
Share 49erswebzone