Still smarting over that Navy timeout call as my Army team was about to go up 14-0 yesterday. Man, 13 years in a row now.
Game day in Seattle has dawned sunny and cool, some of the best conditions for a Seahawks home game in December in years.
News Tribune columnist Dave Boling writes how dangerous this 49ers team can be to Seattle today.
Here is my game advance story that appears in today's News Tribune, leading with Pete Carroll calling this home stretch of the regular season for Seattle in the NFC West race "as good as it gets in the NFL."
Inside that story are what I see as the keys to the Seahawks getting a fourth straight win today, which would effectively bury the 49ers and set up an NFC West championship game next Sunday in Glendale, Ariz., against the Cardinals (11-3):
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (7-6) at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-4)
1:25 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Channel 13 Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM
The series: Seattle leads the series 17-15 and has won four of the last five. That includes the last meeting less than two weeks ago, the Seahawks’ 19-3 domination in Santa Clara on Thanksgiving. The last game these teams played in Seattle was the Seahawks’ win in the final seconds of January’s NFC championship game.
SEATTLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY
Feed the Beast. Again: The reason Russell Wilson finally had some time to throw down the field last week at Philadelphia was because the Eagles were preoccupied with stopping Marshawn Lynch after his early success with the run. That’s the ticket today, tomorrow, next week, every game for the Seahawks. Always has been. And especially with Lynch averaging 101 yards rushing in his last seven games against the 49ers.
Rely on Spy Guy: Colin Kaepernick romped for 130 yards the last time he played in Seattle, January’s NFC title game. But in these teams’ previous meeting on Thanksgiving, the 49ers’ QB was reluctant to run. That’s because Bobby Wagner was spying on him. Wagner is the Seahawks’ fastest and smartest defender. He knows San Francisco needs to get its dormant running game going to stay in this one.
Start fast, squash hope: Lot of talk that the Seahawks are going to get the best from a proud, reeling 49ers team that has reached the last three NFC title games. But San Francisco didn’t look proud in the previous meeting, or last week at Oakland. A fast start by Seattle in its first home game since Nov. 23 might extinguish whatever hope is left within the Niners, and leave them spending the rest of the afternoon thinking of offseason plans.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
54 Bobby Wagner LB 6-0 241 third
Remains centerpiece of this defensive revival – and the throttle Kaepernick and SF can’t shake.
24 Marshawn Lynch RB 5-11 215 eighth
Averaging 101 yards rushing per game the last 7 times he’s faced the Niners.
25 Richard Sherman CB 6-3 195 fourth
Seems every time he faces Harbaugh, 49ers he does something remarkable. Even for him.
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Year
21 Frank Gore RB 5-9 217 10th
All attention on Kaepernick. But Niners need to give Gore more than 10 rushes he got on Thanksgiving.
85 Vernon Davis TE 6-3 250 ninth
Did he still play for these guys? Just 25 catches this season. Only 3 targets in last meeting.
50 Chris Borland LB 5-11 248 rookie
Pete Carroll likens fill-in for injured Patrick Willis to Lofa Tatupu for his smarts, ruggedness.
The pick: Seahawks, 20-7. Forget what’s happened recently. This is going be the typical Niners-Seahawks grudge match. But Seattle’s defense is going to be even better than it’s been lately, revved up by the return home – and will set up the NFC West championship game next week at Arizona.