Seahawks can afford to shrug off acrimony

Staff writerDecember 8, 2013 

The blood is rumored to be bad and the anger festering, which suits the Seattle Seahawks fine.

Word out of San Francisco is the 49ers don’t like the Seahawks and the Seahawks don’t like 49ers. It’s a burgeoning rivalry born of battering-ram playing styles.

Yet, one of the Seahawks’ most vociferous agitators put forth little more than a shoulder shrug when asked about any ill will associated with Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. game between the Seahawks and 49ers at Candlestick Park.

“I mean, I feel like they feel that way,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “We just go out and play our game. Every week is a championship week, we just go out and play our ballgame, execute, and make a great game plan. Our coaches do a great job scouting and we go out there and worry about what we have to do. We don’t worry about anything else.”

Sherman can afford to temper his rhetoric because the Seahawks have hammered the 49ers the past two meetings. In the past two games, Seattle is 2-0 by a combined score of 71-16, including a 29-3 late-game knockout in Week 2 this season.

Both were at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have won 14 consecutive games. The last time the Seahawks played in Candlestick Park, they lost 13-6 on Oct. 18, 2012, in Russell Wilson’s seventh career game as an NFL quarterback.

“I’ve just learned so much more from the experience that I’ve had,” Wilson said. “The coaches really truly trust me now, in terms of the play calling and being able to check calls and make calls and making sure our reads are on the money, on time.”

Seattle was able to bait and shove the 49ers into five turnovers in their first game this season, four from regressing quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was intercepted three times and fumbled once.

The 49ers, like the Seahawks, have a run-first offense, which is 31st in the league in passing yards. Kaepernick’s completion percentage (62.4 down to 57.8), quarterback rating (72.2 to 66.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (from a little better than 3:1 down to just more than 2:1) have declined.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh sees no issues, however.

“He’s just playing A-plus, and competing A-plus, and his strong leadership has been A-plus,” Harbaugh said. “Everything has been really good. He’s got a wonderful competitive heart; I just love that about him.”

The Seahawks like that Kaepernick seems to get rattled if he has to go through read progressions while horseshoed into the pocket. He’s thrown seven interceptions all season, three of which were against Seattle. He’s faced them twice and has four interceptions and one touchdown.

“We understand how they want to attack us,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “When you know how a team wants to attack you no matter what they run, you can eliminate a lot of stuff and just play fast.”

A win would bring a meaningful shift. The Seahawks could clinch the NFC West Division title on San Francisco’s home ground, the franchise’s first division title since 2010. The 49ers have earned the past two and represented the NFC in last season’s Super Bowl.

Seattle already has bagged a playoff spot. The next pursuit is the division title, followed by home advantage throughout the playoffs. With four games remaining, both are more attainable than unlikely.

A grandiose step toward each can be taken Sunday.

SEAHAWKS  GAMEDAY

SEATTLE (11-1) at SAN FRANCISCO (8-4)

1:25 p.m., Candlestick Park

TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.

The series: The Seahawks lead, 15-14. The last time the teams met, the Seahawks won, 29-3, on Sept. 15 in Seattle.

What to watch: Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is back the for the 49ers, which will cause matchup challenges the Seahawks didn’t have to deal with in the Week 2 win over the 49ers. That week, Seattle put Richard Sherman on Anquan Boldin because fellow cornerback Brandon Browner was out for that game, just as he will be this Sunday. Crabtree gives San Francisco a bump at wide receiver, making it a three-pronged attack as opposed to having Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis as the main concerns. San Francisco needs this game much more than the Seahawks. If the 49ers lose, they will have five losses and be in danger of missing the playoffs. Not to mention, the Seahawks have clobbered them in consecutive games.

The pick: 49ers 14, Seahawks 13

Prime numbers

SEATTLE

No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year

3 Russell Wilson, QB, 5-11, 206, second

  • He did not play well in his first career game against San Francisco last season as a rookie.

24 Marshawn Lynch, RB, 5-11, 215, seventh

  • Lynch is on this list almost every week because that’s where things start for the Seahawks.

60 Max Unger, C, 6-5, 305, fifth

  • He will often be nose-to-nose with 49ers bull Justin Smith, an All-Pro player after the 2011 season.

89 Doug Baldwin, WR, 5-10, 189, third

  • Former Stanford star called Seahawks receivers “elite.” Here’s a chance to prove it.

SAN FRANCISCO

No. Name, Pos., Ht., Wt., Year

7 Colin Kaepernick, QB, 6-4, 230, third

  • If Kaepernick gets pinned in pocket by the Seahawks, 49ers could be in trouble.

21 Frank Gore, RB, 5-9, 217, ninth

  • Veteran back was a no-show in first game against Seattle, averaging 1.8 yards per carry.

31 Donte Whitner, S, 5-10, 208, eighth

  • Despite being denied request to change his name on jersey, having his best season with San Francisco.

53 NaVorro Bowman, LB, 6-0, 242, fourth

  • All-Pro linebacker the past two seasons has 111 tackles this season for 49ers.

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com

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