Eagerly anticipated by Seattle fans since NFL schedule came out, Seahawks, 49ers are on track Sunday to deliver a nationally televised spectacle featuring two good young QBs.
GAME: San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1, 1st NFC West) at Seattle Seahawks (9-5, 2nd NFC West). TYPE: Regular season. WEEK: 16. WHEN: Sunday, 5:20 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 28th (49ers lead 14-13). STREAKS: Seahawks W 3; 49ers W 2. HEAD COACHES: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco; Pete Carroll, Seattle. LINE: Pick ’em. TV: NBC. RADIO: ESPN 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM.
Any quarterback who did what Russell Wilson did last week in Toronto — franchise-record three rushing touchdowns, one touchdown pass, 104.4 passer rating — would seem to be a shoo-in for NFC Offensive Player of the Week. But Wilson got aced out, despite directing a 50-17 win, by the quarterback the Seahawks will confront Sunday, Colin Kaepernick.
In San Francisco’s 41-34 win over New England, the second-year pro out of Nevada torched the Patriots with four touchdown passes (44, 24, 27 and 38 yards to three receivers). He also rushed seven times for 28 yards.
“The thing that really jumps out is that Colin has such a strong arm,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “He really can fire the ball down the field.Then when he gets out and runs, he can really go. So he’s a little more of a run threat” than former starter Alex Smith.
The 49ers made the switch from Smith, still the league’s No. 3-rated passer, because they believe Kaepernink gives them a chance to throw the ball anywhere on the field.
“Colin was one of the most prolific running/passing quarterbacks in the history of college football, and they’re doing a lot of things that he understands and can do when they choose to,” Carroll added. “That means that there is an option element to their game.”
A win by the 49ers, who have already qualified for the postseason, would give them the NFC West title. A win by the Seahawks would give them a thin shot at the division title heading into the final weekend of regular-season play. To claim the title, Seattle would have to win at home against St. Louis while San Francisco lost at home against hapless Arizona.
If the season ended today, Seattle would have the NFC’s first wild-card slot, No. 5 overall, and would play on the road the No. 4 team, the NFC East winner, currently led by Washington.
Seattle and San Francisco have numerous statistical similarities. The 49ers have scored 357 points, the Seahawks 350. The 49ers have allowed 218, the Seahawks 219. San Francisco ranks second in rushing yards and 26th in passing yards. In the same categories, the Seahawks rank third and 27th.
San Francisco is second in yards per game allowed, the Seahawks third. The 49ers are No. 3 against the run, Seattle No. 10. The 49ers are fifth against the pass, the Seahawks No. 3. San Francisco has 35 sacks, so does Seattle. San Francisco outscored its opponents by 139 points, Seattle its foes by 131.
“I can’t help but see that, because they believe in playing big-time defense as well as us, they believe in the running game, which we do, and they have a very strong emphasis on special teams, which we do,” said Carroll.
“I think that’s really the three pillars of what we’re trying to put together here. That’s what we’re dealing with. I don’t know how they (the 49ers) talk about it, but it’s certainly what’s obvious about their team and what you have to line up against.”
The last time the teams met Oct. 18, the Seahawks allowed Frank Gore to rush for 132 yards — 107 before contact, Gore’s most in a game since Week 14 of 2009 when he had 115 yards before contact in a game against the Cardinals. The Seahawks, meanwhile, came away with just two Steven Hauschka field goals after Seattle receivers dropped five of Wilson’s passes.
“They’re an outstanding defense,” said Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “They’re a top-ranked defense for good reason. They’ve got great rushers coming off the ends, coming off the edges. They’re solid in the middle. The linebackers are Pro Bowl players. The secondary is playing outstanding.”
San Francisco defensive end Aldon Smith is tied for the NFL lead with 19.5 sacks.
“He’s got a wide variety of things he can do,” said Bevell. “He can beat you with speed. I’ve seen him take tackles and just push them right into the quarterback with a bull rush and tackle the quarterback and the offensive tackle.
“I think because of the guys they have up front, they don’t have to be exotic. They have great pass rushers without having to get in all different kinds of blitzing schemes. They’re not a heavy pressure team but with (Ahmad) Brooks and Smith coming off the edges. So the front four is where they try to get pressure.”
One of the front four’s key members, Justin Smith, sat out of practice all week with an elbow problem. He’s listed as questionable. Rickey Jean Francois is expected to start in his place.
Seattle hasn’t defeated San Francisco since Sept. 12, 2010, losing four in a row. The last two have been decided by a combined nine points.
Facing a four-game drug suspension if his appeal is unsuccessful, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman attended his league hearing in New York this week, returned Friday and will play Sunday. NFL custom has been to announce suspensions on Monday or Tuesday, but because of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Sherman might not find out about his eligibility to play the rest of this season until Wednesday.
DT Alan Branch is expected to return from an ankle injury, and DBs Walter Thurmond and Marcus Trufant (both with hamstring problems) might see action. WR Sidney Rice is questionable (sore knee). Reserve DT Jason Jones earlier in the week was lost for the season due to cartilage damage in his knee suffered in the win over the Bills.
SERIES: Dates to Sept. 26, 1976, when the 49ers won 37-21 at the Kingdome in the third regular-season game in franchise history. The Seahawks have dropped four consecutive games to San Francisco, including a 19-17 setback Dec. 24, 2011 at CenturyLink Field in which David Akers of the 49ers kicked four field goals. Seattle’s TDs came on a 13-yard pass from Tarvaris Jackson to Doug Baldwin and a four-yard run by Marshawn Lynch.
LAST MEETING (49ers 13, Seahawks 6, Oct. 18): The Niners rushed for 175 yards, 131 by veteran Frank Gore on spectacularly successful trap plays, and took advantage of p five dropped passes by the Seahawks. Seattle reached the red zone three times and couldn’t come away with a score. Rookie Russell Wilson, in his seventh NFL game, struggled, completing just 9 of 23 for 122 yards. In the second half, he did not complete a pass until the fourth quarter.
Seahawks: 9-5, 2nd, NFC West; scored 350 points (25.0 per game), ranking 11th; allowed 219 points (15.6 per game), 2nd; differential of +131 points ranks 4th. 49ers: 10-3-1, 1st, NFC West; scored 357 points (25.5), ranked 9th; allowed 218 (15.6), 1st; differential of +139 points ranks 2nd.
SEAHAWKS HEAD COACH: Pete Carroll (55-54 career, 22-23 Seattle) is in his third season. In 2010, he directed Seattle to the NFC West title, the Seahawks becoming the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing (7-9) record. Prior to joining the Seahawks, Carroll served as head coach at Southern California, where his Trojans won seven Pac-10 titles.
SEAHAWKS QUARTERBACKS: Russell Wilson at Arizona — 18 of 34 for 153 yards, 1 TD, one INT, 62.5 passer rating; vs. Dallas — 15 of 20, 151 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 112.7 rating; vs. Green Bay — 10 of 21 for 130 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 99.3 passer rating; at St. Louis — 17 of 25, 160 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 45.8 passer rating; at Carolina — 19 of 25, 221 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 82.2 passer rating; vs. New England, 16 of 27, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 133.7 passer rating; at San Francisco, 9 of 23, 122 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 38.7 passer rating; at Detroit, 25 of 35 for 236 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 96.8 passer rating; vs. Minnesota, 16 of 24, 173 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 127.3 passer rating; vs. New York Jets, 12 of 19, 188 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 131.0 passer rating; at Miami, 21 of 27, 224 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 125.9 passer rating; at Chicago, 23 of 37, 293 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 104.9 passer rating; vs. Arizona, 7 of 13, 148 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 88.0 passer rating; at Buffalo (Toronto), 14 of 23, 205 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs, 104.4 passer rating. Matt Flynn — vs. Arizona, 5 of 9, 68 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 79.9 passer rating; at Buffalo (Toronto), no statistics.
SEAHAWKS STATS / NOTES
TEAM OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||4902||16||Total Yards||5064||11|
|Yards / Game||350.1||16||Yards / Game||361.7||11|
|Rush Yards||2250||3||Rush Yards||2280||2|
|Rush / Game||160.7||3||Rush / Game||162.9||2|
|Pass Yards||2652||27||Pass Yards||2784||26|
|Pass / Game||189.4||27||Pass / Game||198.9||26|
|Points / Game||25.0||11||Points / Game||25.5||8|
TEAM DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
|Total Yards||4255||3||Total Yards||4102||2|
|Yards / Game||303.0||3||Yards / Game||293.0||2|
|Rush / Allw.||1488||10||Rush / Allw.||1276||3|
|Rush / Game||106.3||10||Rush / Game||91.1||3|
|Pass Allw.||2767||3||Pass Allw.||2826||5|
|Pass / Game||197.6||3||Pass / Game||201.9||5|
|Points Allw.||219||2||Points Allw.||218||1|
|Points / Game||15.6||T1||Points / Game||15.6||T1|
SEAHAWKS OFFENSIVE LEADERS
SEAHAWKS DEFENSIVE LEADERS
|Tackles||Wagner 121, Chancellor 80, Wright 80|
|Sacks||Clemons 11.5, Irvin 8.0, Mebane, 3.0|
|Quarterback Hits||Clemons 21, Irvin 17, 4 with 5|
|Interceptions||Sherman 6, Browner 3, Wagner 3|
|Passes Defensed||Sherman 19, Thomas 9, Browner 6|
|Forced Fumbles||Browner 3, Clemons 3|
|Fumbles Recovered||Eight tied with one each|
49ERS NOTES: The 49ers defeated Green Bay (30-22), Detroit (27-19), the Jets (34-0), Buffalo (45-3), Seahawks (13-6), Arizona (24-3), Chicago (32-7), New Orleans (31-21), Miami (27-13) and New England (41-34), lost to Minnesota (24-13), the Giants (26-3) and the Rams (16-13), and tied the Rams . . . Frank Gore ranks 7th in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 79.9. He scored seven TDs . . . Michael Crabtree is San Francisco’s leading receiver with 73 catches for 868 yards and seven touchdowns . . . NaVorro Bowman is the league’s fourth-leading tackler with 89 solos . . . Aldon Smith is tied for first in the NFL with 19.5 sacks . . . Former Husky Dashon Goldson leads the 49ers with three interceptions.
49ERS QUARTERBACKS: Colin Kaepernick, who took over for Alex Smith, has started five games and completed 101 of 154 passes for 1,289 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions for a 117.2 passer rating. A second-round draft pick out of Nevada, Kaepernick threw for 216 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-34 win at New England Sunday.
49ERS HEAD COACH: Hired Jan. 7, 2011, Jim Harbaugh is in his second season as coach of the 49ers. In his first season, Harbaugh led the 49ers to a 13-3 record, the club’s best since 1997. A 15-year NFL veteran quarterback, Harbaugh had a four-year run as head coach at Stanford. He graduated from the University of Michigan.
KEY DATES: Jan. 5-6, 2013 — Wild Card weekend; Jan. 12-13 — Divisional playoffs; Jan. 19-20 — Conference championships; Jan. 27 — Pro Bowl (Honolulu); Feb. 3 — Super Bowl, New Orleans. Feb. 20-26 — NFL combine (Indianapolis); April 25-27 — NFL draft.
NFC West Standings
|S. Francisco||10-3-1||2-1-1||Sunday at Seattle|
|Seattle||9-5||1-3||Sunday vs. S. Francisco|
|St. Louis||6-7-1||4-0-1||Sunday at Tampa|
|Arizona||5-9||1-4||Sunday vs. Chicago|
COMING UP: The Seahawks close the regular season with a Sunday meeting against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field.
2012 Seahawks Preseason Schedule
|8/11/12||vs. Tennessee||7 p.m.||Q13||W||27-17||1-0|
|8/18/12||at Denver||6 p.m.||Q13||W||30-10||2-0|
|8/24/12||at Kansas City||5 p.m.||Q13||W||44-14||3-0|
|8/30/12||vs. Oakland||7 p.m.||Q13||W||21-3||4-0|
2012 Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule
|9/9/12||at Arizona||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L||20-16||0-1|
|9/16/12||vs. Dallas||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||27-7||1-1|
|9/24/12||vs. Green Bay||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||W||14-12||2-1|
|9/30/12||at St. Louis||10 a.m.||FOX||L||19-13||2-2|
|10/7/12||at Carolina||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||16-12||3-2|
|10/14/12||vs. N. England||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||24-23||4-2|
|10/18/12||at S. Francisco||5:20 p.m.||NFLN||L||13-6||4-3|
|10/28/12||at Detroit||10 a.m.||FOX||L||28-24||4-4|
|11/4/12||vs. Minnesota||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||30-20||5-4|
|11/11/11||vs. NY Jets||1:05 p.m.||CBS||W||28-7||6-4|
|11/25/12||at Miami||10 a.m.||FOX||L||24-21||6-5|
|12/2/12||at Chicago||10 a.m.||FOX||W||23-17||7-5|
|12/9/12||vs. Arizona||1:15 p.m.||FOX||W||58-0||8-5|
|12/16/12||*at Buffalo||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W||50-17||9-5|
|12/23/12||vs. San Francisco||5:20 p.m.||NBC||—||—||—|
|12/30/12||vs. St. Louis||1:15 p.m.||FOX||—||—||—|
* in Toronto
2012 Seahawks Capsules
Aug. 11 Seahawks 27, Titans 17 (at Seattle) — Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson ran for a touchdown and passed for one, leading the Seahawks over a Tennessee Titans team featuring two quarterbacks with strong local ties, ex-Seahawk Matt Hasselbeck and ex-Husky Jake Locker. Hasselbeck threw two interceptions while Locker completed 7 of 13 for 80 yards.
Aug. 18: Seahawks 30, Broncos 10 (at Denver) — Starting his second straight exhibition game, QB Matt Flynn failed to seize control of the quarterback job, finishing 6 of 13 for 31 yards with no TDs or INTs. But Wilson made a case for himself by completing 10 of 17 for 155 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 28.5. The Seahawks finished with 228 yards rushing, led by Sutton’s 48 yards on three carries.
Aug. 24: Seahawks 44, Chiefs 14 (at Kansas City) — Wilson completed 10 of 17 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. With Wilson playing into the second half, Seattle scored 21 points, overcoming a 10-9 halftime deficit. Earl Thomas made the big defensive play, returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. Flynn did not play due to injury.
Aug. 30: Seahawks 21, Raiders 3 (at Seattle): Flynn, getting most of the snaps, completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards. Seahawks outgained the Raiders 334 yards to 101.
Sept. 8: Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16 (at Phoenix): Despite seven tries inside Arizona’s red zone in final minute, the Seahawks could not score the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks overcame a tepid first half offensively thanks to an 83-yard kickoff return and a 52-yard punt return by Leon Washington.
Sept. 15: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7 (at Seattle): The Seahawks took a 10-0 lead in less than five minutes when Michael Robinson forced Felix Jones to fumble the opening kickoff, leading to a short field goal, and Malcolm Smith blocked Chris Jones’ punt and Jeron Johnson returned it for a touchdown. Marshawn Lynch ran for 122 yards and the defense allowed the Cowboys only 34 yards and three first downs in the second half.
Sept. 24: Seahawks 14, Packers 12 (at Seattle): Russell Wilson and Golden Tate hooked up on a wildly controversial 24-yard touchdown pass as the clock ran out, giving the Seahawks a dramatic victory. As Wilson’s pass reached the end zone, Tate committed a pushing penalty that wasn’t called. Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball and Tate tried to wrestle it away. One official ruled no touchdown, another signaled TD. After review, Tate was awarded the touchdown. The Seahawks had eight sacks in the first half, a record-tying four by Chris Clemons.
Sept. 30: Rams 19, Seahawks 13 (at St. Louis): Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein booted four field goals, including a club-record 58-yarder which he later topped with a 60-yarder, as the Rams handed Seattle its second NFC West loss. Zuerlein also was a perfect decoy on the biggest play of the day — a fake field goal that turned into a two-yard touchdown pass from punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola. The score put the Rams (2-2) ahead 10-7 late in the first half. Marshawn Lynch ran for 118 yards and a touchdown,Seahawks, but Russell Wilson threw three interceptions.
Oct. 7: Seahawks 16, Panthers 12: (at Charlotte): The Seahawks used a series of big defensive plays, the best pass of Russell Wilson’s NFL career, and a planned safety in the final minute to edge Carolina. Cornerback Brandon Browner made two of the three biggest defensive stops. With Carolina at the Seattle 27-yard line in the third quarter, Browner stripped the ball from DeAngelo Williams, giving the Seahawks a chance to take the lead after they had fallen behind 10-6 on Wilson’s worst pass of the season. Less than three minutes into the second half, Wilson threw behind intended receiver Anthony McCoy, and Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn snatched the ball and raced 33 yards for a touchdown that put the Panthers ahead 10-6. But after Browner stripped Williams. Wilson, on a third-and-eight from the Carolina 13, rocketed a slant pass to Golden Tate for a touchdown.
Oct. 14: Seahawks 24, Patriots 23: Russell Wilson threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Sidney Rice with 1:18 to play to give the Seahawks a come-from-behind victory. The Seahawks trailed 23-10 in the second half, but Wilson fired touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin and Braylon Edwards before finding Rice with the game-winning throw.
Oct. 18: 49ers 13, Seahawks 6: Alex Smith threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker late in the third quarter and San Francisco held off the Seahawks in a battle for first place in the NFC West. Frank Gore ran for 131 yards. The 49ers made just enough plays to win a defense-first game. Marshawn Lynch ran for 103 yards for Seattle, but Russell Wilson couldn’t generate a passing game, going 9 of 23 for 122 yards and a passer rating of 38.7.
Oct. 28: Lions 28, Seahawks 24: Titus Young caught his second touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford on a one-yard slant with 20 seconds left, lifting Detroit. Young needed to make the second TD catch after Zach Miller had a spectacular, 16-yard snag on a toss from Russell Wilson with 5:27 left that put the Seahawks ahead. But Seattle (4-4) couldn’t stop the Lions (3-4) on their last possession.
Nov. 4: Seahawks 30, Vikings 20: Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, Wilson threw three first-half touchdown passes, and the Seahawks overcame 182 yards by Adrian Peterson to snap a two-game losing streak. Peterson tore through the Seahawks defense for one of the finest games of his career, yet was stuck being a spectator as Seattle slowly pulled away in the fourth quarter, mostly on the legs of Lynch, with a few key passes by Wilson.
Nov. 11: Seahawks 28, N.J. Jets 7: Wilson threw two touchdowns to Sidney Rice, and Lynch ran for 124 yards and a touchdown as the Seahawks overwhelmed the Jets at CenturyLink Field. Rice also threw the first pass of his NFL career, completing a 23-yard touchdown to Golden Tate.
Nov. 25: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21: Dan Carpenter hit a 43-yard field goal at the final gun after Ryan Tannehill led a 65-yard, six-play drive, and the Dolphins rallied to beat the Seahawks at SunLife Stadium. Miami scored 17 points in the final 8:08 after the Seahawks took the lead on a 98-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington. The eighth KOR TD of Washington’s career tied the league record. Russell Wilson completed 21 of 27, including 16 in a row, for 224 yards, two TDs and a passer rating of 125.9.
Dec. 2: Seahawks 23, Bears 18 (OT): Russell Wilson engineered scoring drives of 97 and 80 yards at the end of regulation and in overtime, finishing off with touchdown passes to Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, giving the Seahawks their third consecutive win at Soldier Field and just their second victory of the season on the road. After Wilson led the Seahawks on a 12-play, 97-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard TD pass to Tate, the Bears tied the score at 17-17 with 24 seconds to play on a Robbie Gould field goal. The Seahawks won the OT coin flip and Wilson directed an 80-yard, 12-play drive that ended with a 13-yard TD to Rice.
Dec. 9: Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0: Marshawn Lynch ran for three touchdowns and the Seahawks intercepted four passes and recovered four fumbles en route to the fourth-largest shutout victory in NFL history. The Seahawks scored five different ways against the Cardinals, including run, pass, interception return, fumbled punt return and field goal. Seattle’s previous largest shutout win was 45-0 over Kansas City in the Kingdome Nov. 4, 1984.
Dec. 16: Seahawks 50, Bills 17: Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson set a franchise record by rushing for three touchdowns in leading the Seahawks to another historic win. The Seahawks became the first team since the 1950 Rams and Giants to score 50 or more points in consecutive games. Wilson scored on runs of 14, 25 and 13 yards, all in the first half. He also threw a touchdown pass to Zach Miller as the Seahawks rolled to a 31-7 lead and cruised at Rogers Center in Toronto.