The San Francisco 49ers are smoking hot entering Sunday’s NFC Title game at Seattle.
With an 8-game winning streak, including their last three on the road, the 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick are experiencing the kind of playoff high that teams from the past have ridden all the way into Super Bowl Sunday.
Last year it was the Baltimore Ravens, the year before it was the New York Giants, and the year before that it was the Green Bay Packers. All of them played on Wild Card weekend and rode their momentum into the Super Bowl, eventually winning it all.
San Francisco will be looking to cash in on the recent trend.
Wild Card weekend saw the heroics of Kaepernick in leading a final game winning drive over Green Bay. In the divisional round, it was the 49ers defense that held Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to only 10 points, including a shutout in the second half as the 49ers rallied to win 23-10.
On Sunday however, Kaepernick and the Niners return to the “House of Horrors”, also known as CenturyLink Field.
The past two meeting in Seattle have been one sided blowouts. In 2012, before a Sunday Night audience on NBC, the Seahawks ambushed the 49ers to a 42-13 thrashing that including knocking out tight end Vernon Davis from the game. This season, once again on NBC, the 49ers played to a stalemate after 30-minutes, trailing 5-0 in a defensive battle, but in the second half, the Seahawks steamrolled San Francisco 24-3 en-route to a 29-3 victory.
Two games and two bad losses in Seattle by a combined score of 71-16 are the biggest reasons why the Seahawks are the consensus pick for Sunday’s NFC Title Game.
But these aren’t the same 49ers from those two losses.
Minus Mario Manningham, who ironically suffered a knee injury in last year’s matchup with Seattle, the 49ers are relatively healthy. Two years ago, San Francisco lost Mario, Vernon, and played without Justin Smith, Kendall Hunter, and receiver Kyle Williams.
In their first meeting back in Week 2 this season, the 49ers were without LaMichael James and Michael Crabtree, both of whom played in the rematch that San Francisco won.
The 49ers are healthy and riding high entering Sunday’s game while Seattle has struggled somewhat since their rematch loss back in Week 14. The Seahawks are just 3-2 and the aura of invincibility that Seattle had at home may have been put into doubt following their first home loss in the Russell Wilson era.
Confidence is high for the 49ers and Kaepernick, and after winning at Arizona, braving sub-zero temperatures in Green Bay, and knocking off the second ranked defense in Carolina, San Francisco is looking to quiet Seattle’s 12th man and head back to the Super Bowl.