Championship Round team fantasy preview: 49ers
Colin Kaepernick's passing numbers ticked up as the season progressed, but he hasn't yet solved the Seahawks on the road. The sample size is small, but Kaepernick is 0-2 in Seattle and hasn't played well in those games. In fact, his last game at CenturyLink Field was the worst passing game of his pro career, going 13 of 28 for 127 yards and three picks. He has the talent and a full arsenal of weapons, and he's going to need them. He faces the best defense in the league this Sunday on the road in the loudest stadium in the world.
The Defense and the Kicker
With an outstanding defensive line and linebacking core, San Francisco ranks third in scoring defense this season. Pro Bowl linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman are equally good at stopping the run as they are dropping into coverage against the tight end. They don't typically load the box nor do they blitz often, preferring an extra corner on the field; however, don't be surprised to see San Francisco occasionally cheat safety Donte Whitner in to stop Marshawn Lynch, forcing Russell Wilson to beat them with his arm.
After 14 years in Cleveland, kicker Phil Dawson joined the 49ers this offseason. Dawson had a solid season missing only four of his attempts, and two of those were from over 50 yards. Dawson obviously has a ton of experience, but since he played in Cleveland, he has very little playoff experience. Before this season, he played in just one playoff game.
The Other Side…
If the 49ers stop Marshawn Lynch, they can win this game. Lynch punished New Orleans last week and will be the focal point of the Seahawks offense again on Sunday. It's widely assumed that Russell Wilson can deliver if called upon, but it's far from a certainty. The game plan will focus on bringing Lynch down and forcing Wilson to win it through the air.