There is nothing like a bitter rivalry in sports. It’s something in today’s sports world you don’t see much of. Sure, fans may have bad blood with opposing fans, but many professional athletes have lost their desire to participate in rivalries. People are getting too caught up in the money and becoming too friendly! Two things I don’t understand and greatly discourage.
With that said, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are an exception. These division rivals have grown to hate each other over the past few years, and it all starts with coaches Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll. These two began their personal rivalry in the Pac-10 (now Pac-12), while Carroll was at USC and Harbaugh was at Stanford. Also, Harbaugh attempted to recruit Carroll’s youngest son to the University of San Diego BEFORE THAT, so it’s apparent these two aren’t on the best of terms.
As the 49ers head to Seattle for a game on Sunday to determine the winner of the NFC, it has to be in the back of their heads that winning in Seattle isn’t an easy feat. With that said, the 49ers have won their last 3 road games, so don’t expect for them to be unfamiliar with playing on the road.
Seahawks 3 Keys to Victory
#1- Wilson must be better. He plays for a team that can mask any blemishes that he has on any given week, but this is the conference championship. If the Seahawks want to move on, they are going to have to beat a red hot 49ers team. The main focus will be to stop Marshawn Lynch, so expect Wilson to have single coverage downfield. He must be more accurate to expose this 49ers defense.
#2- The run defense has to rebound from last week. The Saints don’t have the best rushing attack, but they were still able to pick up 106 yards on the ground. That isn’t spectacular, but it was defiantly a weakness when everyone knew they were running it considering the horrendous weather conditions. The 49ers are much better on the ground, so it’s up to the defense to step it up and not let them control the line of scrimmage.
#3- Find a way to replace replace Percy Harvin. He may not have played all year, but this guy is the one weapon in the passing game. Without him, there is no proven deep threat that the defense has to worry about. Guys like Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate will be the x-factors if the Seahawks want to score points.
49ers Keys to the Game
#1- Set the tone early. Cliches are fun. But honestly, its so true when you are on the road. The Saints were able to do it on defense last week, but the offense never got into a groove until the 4th quarter. The Seahawks are great because of their ability to control the tempo of the game. The 49ers cannot let that happen if they want a chance.
#2- Stop the Seahawks on 3rd down. With a team that is so run-oriented, they are going to find themselves in a lot of 3rd and short situations. This is where the defense has to step up and stuff the run. Get. The offense. Off. The field.
#3- Gore’s and Kaep’s legs. They saw what the Saints were able to do, and they know they have even better options to use against this Seahawks defense. That Seahawks secondary has a tendency to lock up receivers which leads to pressure on the QB. Luckily for San Fran, Colin Kaepernick is great at turning a collapsed pocket into big yardage by running. These two will need to run the ball effectively to control the tempo and turn a potential sack in positive yards.
It’s going to be a defensive struggle between two division rivals. It is going to get chippy, it is going to be intense, and it is going to be fun to watch.
Vegas has the Seahawks favored by 4 points, and as even as I see these teams, along with the 49ers showing no issues with winning on the road, I have the Seahawks covering the spread and moving onto the Super Bowl.
Seahawks 20 – 49ers 13