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Seahawks by 31/2
49ers 12-4 (2-0), Seahawks 13-3 (1-0)
FOX40 (Joe Buck play-by-play, Troy Aikman color), 680, 1320
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Seahawks free safety
Earl Thomas vs. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick
Thomas is perhaps the best safety in the game, and the Seahawks give him plenty of responsibility. He is the lone deep safety in many of their formations, which allows the team’s strong safety, Kam Chancellor, to scoot closer to the line of scrimmage to assist in the run game. Thomas was a menace in Week 2 when the 49ers had only one legitimate threat, Anquan Boldin, at wide receiver. Now they have two. Kaepernick’s objective will be to win the chess match with Thomas by hitting Boldin, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis at the right times. That will force the Seahawks to move both safeties back into coverage. And when that happens, Frank Gore will have more room to run.
FIVE KEYS TO GAME
• The 49ers have gotten off to quick starts in their first two playoff games. That’s imperative against Seattle’s opportunistic defense and a raucous CenturyLink Field crowd. Early mistakes in that environment could be costly.
• On defense, the 49ers will follow their Week 14 game plan against Seattle: Stop Marshawn Lynch on the ground and take their chances with Russell Wilson through the air. Wilson had a nice game – 199 yards – on Dec. 8, but the Seahawks scored only 17 points.
• Statistic from the last two seasons against Seattle: When the 49ers win the turnover margin or break even, they win the game. Kaepernick must be careful with the ball – more than he was against Green Bay and Carolina – vs. the Seahawks defense, which led the NFL with 39 takeaways this year.
• Stick with the run. The 49ers had just 25 rushing yards in the first half against Carolina. But their persistence paid off in the second half when the offensive line began shoving the Panthers around and Gore began picking up yards in chunks.
• The 49ers’ normally stout coverage units gave up big returns on both a punt and a kickoff against Carolina. In a game in which points will be at a premium, a return-game lapse is something the 49ers can ill afford.
– Matthew Barrows
CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring), RB Will Tukuafu (knee)
LB NaVorro Bowman (wrist), LB Ahmad Brooks (illness), WR Michael Crabtree (wrist), DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), C Jonathan Goodwin (foot), RB Frank Gore (knee), LB Dan Skuta (foot), DT Justin Smith (shoulder)
WR Percy Harvin (concussion)
DT Jordan Hill (groin)
RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related), LB K.J. Wright (foot)
49ERS GAME BY GAME
|Sept. 8||Green Bay||W, 34-28|
|Sept. 15||at Seattle||L, 29-3|
|Sept. 22||Indianapolis||L, 27-7|
|Sept. 26||at St. Louis||W, 35-11|
|Oct. 6||Houston||W, 34-3|
|Oct. 13||Arizona||W, 32-20|
|Oct. 20||at Tennessee||W, 31-17|
|Oct. 27||at Jacksonville||W, 42-10|
|Nov. 10||Carolina||L, 10-9|
|Nov. 17||at New Orleans||L, 23-20|
|Nov. 25||at Washington||W, 27-6|
|Dec. 1||St. Louis||W, 23-13|
|Dec. 8||Seattle||W, 19-17|
|Dec. 15||at Tampa Bay||W, 33-14|
|Dec. 23||Atlanta||W, 34-24|
|Dec. 29||at Arizona||W, 23-20|
|Jan. 5||at Green Bay||W, 23-20|
|Jan. 12||at Carolina||W, 23-10|
SEAHAWKS GAME BY GAME
|Sept. 8||at Carolina||W, 12-7|
|Sept. 15||49ers||W, 29-3|
|Sept. 22||Jacksonville||W, 45-17|
|Sept. 29||at Houston||W, 23-20 (OT)|
|Oct. 6||at Indianapolis||L, 34-28|
|Oct. 13||Tennessee||W, 20-13|
|Oct. 17||at Arizona||W, 34-22|
|Oct. 28||at St. Louis||W, 14-9|
|Nov. 3||Tampa Bay||W, 27-24 (OT)|
|Nov. 10||at Atlanta||W, 33-10|
|Nov. 17||Minnesota||W, 41-20|
|Dec. 2||New Orleans||W, 34-7|
|Dec. 8||at 49ers||L, 19-17|
|Dec. 15||at New York Giants||W, 23-0|
|Dec. 22||Arizona||L, 17-10|
|Dec. 29||St. Louis||W, 27-9|
|Jan. 11||New Orleans||W, 23-15|