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Seattle Silences San Fran To Earn A Super Bowl Berth

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Richard Sherman shut down the 49ers passing game in the NFC Championship. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images.
Richard Sherman shut down the 49ers passing game in the NFC Championship. Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images.

In a brutal confrontation of two defense-first teams, what would prove decisive?

Was it Marshawn Lynch having a better day than his 49ers rival Frank Gore? Lynch ran 22 times for 109 yards. The 49ers did little nothing on the ground except for Colin Kaepernick's scrambles.

Was it the blown call by the refs where they called a five-yard roughing penalty on the Seahawks when it should’ve been the 15-yard variety? A correct call would’ve left the 49ers with the ball; instead the Seahawks scored a touchdown.

No. It was the key statistic of the game: turnovers. The 49ers made three of them, while Seattle lost one fumble.

All the 49er turnovers were on Kaepernick. He made several wild throws, and two of them were picked off, including one on the 49ers’ final drive. One of these errant tosses went for a 49ers touchdown, going right through the hands of a defender. Maybe Kaepernick thought he was on a Vegas-type roll.

He admitted his mistakes in the postgame interview. "I cost us this game," hge said. But he was wrong to say that he made the right choice to go Michael Crabtree, who was guarded by Richard Sherman. No. It was poorly thrown ball and a lousy decision.

You could look at it another way: The Seahawks defense was a tad more stout than the 49ers’ D was. They shut down the pass, and Gore did very little.

You could say that the Seahawks secondary was better. That’s indisputable: It’s the best in the league. Sherman was right in an over-the-top postgame interview with Erin Andrews: He is the best cover man. (Fox cut to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, perhaps afraid Sherman was about to say something untoward.)

The 49ers’ front seven played great, putting more pressure on Russell Wilson than the Seahawks put on Kaepernick. But the 49ers secondary made some key mistakes, one on a long completion to Doug Baldwin and the other when Eric Reid was way out of position on Lynch’s 40-yard touchdown run. Also, the secondary was out of position on the fourth-and-seven play that went for a score.

Russell Wilson, despite the early fumble, was a much better passer than Kaepernick. Wilson was 16-for-25 for 215 yards and one touchdown. Kaepernick was 14-of-23 for 153 yards, with one touchdown, the two picks and the fumble. He couldn’t seem to find anyone but Anquan Boldin. Vernon Davis was a non-factor.

Or you could cite the 12th Man. They were relatively quiet in the first half, but made it rock’n’roll loud in the second half. Kaepernick’s errancy could’ve been connected to the loudness at the stadium. It couldn't have helped the 49ers' concentration.

The Seahawks were able to make some big plays, and the 49ers failed to do so after going into halftime leading 10-3. Baldwin, in addition to the long pass caught that led to the Seahawks’ first score, ran a kickoff back 70 yards. That came right after the 49ers scored to make it 17-10, Niners.

At the end, the Seahawks defense was a bit better. They made more big plays than their San Francisco counterparts. 

So who will be favored in the Super Bowl? Hard to say. I’d favor the Seahawks by one. 

The Broncos didn’t face the sort of Big Boy teams that play in the NFC West. The ‘Hawks have the best secondary around, and I don’t think Peyton Manning will be able to march up and down the field the way he has so far. And I don’t think the Broncos defense is very good. If Beasts win for you, that should help the Seahawks.

We’ll see. It’s a great matchup. It should be a terrific Super Bowl. Neither team has been to the game in a while. Let's roll.