The San Francisco 49ers (8-4) will try to send a message with a victory against their bitter rival and NFC leading Seattle Seahawks (11-1) Sunday Afternoon on FOX.
In the last two meetings, both in Seattle, the 49ers have been outscored 71-16, Frank Gore has been held to 44 yards rushing , and Colin Kaepernick has thrown only one touchdown and four interceptions against that fantastic secondary. Now with the game being played at Candlestick, the 49ers will try to return the favor and it will have to start with their defense. Since the game against the Saints, where the 49ers felt that a victory was taken away from them because of a bad call, the Niners defense has destroyed both the Redskins and the Rams.
This time San Francisco will have to focus their attention to stopping Marshawn Lynch who has rushed for 111 and 98 yards in his last two games against a Niners defense that prides itself on stopping the run. It is that running attack that has allowed Russell Wilson to pick his spots and using play action to make plays down the field.
On offense, Gore has to run the ball effectively and has to get the ball early and often. Joe Staley and Mike Iupati are both listed as questionable could prove to be key loses if they are unable to play. The Seahawks pressure the quarterback as good as anybody and a key for them will be to get in the face of Kaepernick and make him mistake prone.
Player to watch: Colin Kaepernick
Not only does he need to take care of the football, but he also has to make big plays for his football team. Simply put, this is a game where Kaepernick has to play well in order for his team to have a shot. Much has been made of his struggles this year but over the last few weeks the offense has opened up the playbook a little bit more and Kaepernick has been able to find Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin and create more opportunities down the field.
Key Matchup: Crabtree vs. Sherman
Only his second game back but Crabtree should see the ball go his way more often and he is going to have to battle one of the best and most physical corners in Richard Sherman if he wants to have any success. There going going to be grabbing, there is going to be pushing but Crabtree must win these one on one match-ups and force the Seahawks to double team him which would open up things for Davis and Boldin.
Bottom Line: It’s a playoff game for the 49ers
This game means a lot more to the 49ers. They have the Cardinals on their heels, and they come into this game knowing how poorly they’ve played against the Seahawks. San Francisco must use this game to try and send a message to Seattle and to themselves that they can beat these guys because this won’t be the last team these two teams meet.