Leading Off: It’s a two-team race for NFC championship

This, that and the other thing:

• With apologies to New Orleans, Carolina and the other NFC playoff-bound teams that believe they have what it takes to make a run for the conference championship, forget about it.

It’s a two-team race for the NFC representative at the Super Bowl.

That message was delivered Sunday by the 49ers in a 19-17 victory over the Seahawks at Candlestick Park. Yes, the road to the Super Bowl may still go through Seattle, but it’s San Francisco that will go toe-to-toe with the Seahawks in a third and deciding game next month.

While many experts believed Seattle was in top form, the 49ers proved otherwise. San Francisco, refusing to be bullied by the bully, left Seattle grasping for excuses when it was over.

The last team to beat the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Seattle was the 49ers on Christmas Eve, 2011. To reach the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium, they’ll have to do it again.

• What do you think of the Kings’ trade that brings Rudy Gay to Sacramento?

While it remains to be seen how well Gay fits in with the Kings and if he can help them improve, one thing is certain: General manager Pete D’Alessandro isn’t afraid to make changes. Most of the 2012-13 roster is gone, and for good reason.

– Victor Contreras

What to watch

NHL, New York Islanders at Sharks, 7:30 p.m., CSNCA: San Jose returns home after losing three consecutive road games.

Today’s poll

What do you think of the Kings’ trade for forward Rudy Gay?

• I like it; shows the team is trying to improve.

• It will only work if the Kings keep Gay for the long run.

• I don’t like it; price was too steep.

To vote, go to

Weekend poll results

Even though no charges will be filed against Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, should Heisman Trophy voters consider the allegations against him?

• No, the trophy should be based on his football performance: 49%

• Yes, the allegations taint his character: 51%

Total votes: 197