After a hard-fought victory Sunday against the Carolina Panthers the San Francisco 49ers have punched a ticket to the great northwest to take on the Seattle Seahawks. (This, of course, means that Candlestick Park has hosted its last game and ESPN’s commercial blitz was not in vain.) Having been dominated on their previous two visits, the 49ers will look to change the script this time around. With Michael Crabtree on the field this time, and with Percy Harvin perhaps again sidelined with another concussion, the injury change should favor the 49ers. This is despite the fact that Crabtree had only one big impact play against the Panthers: an amazing grab that sustained a key touchdown drive.
Seattle is an excellent team with a solid defense, a mobile, smart quarterback, and a punishing running game headlined by Marshawn Lynch. (Sounds a lot like the Panthers, huh?) The 49ers will hope to get a few key penalties on an aggressive and sometimes out-of-control and emotional secondary, though that should never be relied upon. More importantly, the 49ers will need to play excellent defense and control Russell Wilson as they did in their last matchup at Candlestick.
Offensively, as much as San Francisco would like to rely on Frank Gore, the Seahawks will force Colin Kaepernick to make some plays, or even win the game for the 49ers. Kaepernick has done it before (though usually against the Green Bay Packers) and he had better be up to the task next Sunday. Most importantly, the 49ers’ offense must be able to communicate in the sound-producing chamber known as CenturyLink Field.
The 49ers have another shot to reach the Super Bowl. They had better make the most of it.