Here is a link to my Sunday column predicting the winner of the 49ers-Seahawks showdown. The full text appears below:
I don’t usually get involved at this level, predicting the outcome of a game, giving the score. That’s for beat writers. Today, I’m breaking my rule.
Seahawks 23, 49ers 19.
Today’s game is a big game. “Big” hardly says it, is inadequate as an adjective. Most adjectives are inadequate. Don’t get me started on adverbs.
This game is so (big, huge, gigantic, enormous, whopping) I want my say. I refuse to stand on the sideline cradling a clipboard.
Today, the 49ers either show they are an elite team, one to be feared in the playoffs, or they prove they’re just another pretty good team, a team which may or may not make the playoffs. And if they do make the playoffs, they exit stage left pretty quick.
This game means everything to the 49ers, and that may be good for them — it adds the motivation factor.
The 49ers also have the historical factor. Call it the advantage of history. They have done well in rivalry games. They usually beat Seattle at Candlestick Park. You know all the historical reasons to pick the Niners. I know all the historical reasons.
Forget history. Why? Because, by definition history is in the past. It’s over. I look at these two teams right now, look at them as dispassionately as I can, and the Seahawks are better than the 49ers. I see Seattle winning a close, exhausting, grim game between two proud, tough teams giving everything they have.
I don’t see the 49ers scoring 20 points against the Seahawks’ defense. The 49ers scored seven points against the Colts, nine points against Carolina, both games at home. That’s who these Niners are, low scorers. They won’t go off today and score tons of points. Just not built that way. Plus, the Seahawks match up great against the Niners.
You want specifics? Here are specifics.
In their first game this season, the Seahawks held Anquan Boldin to one catch for 7 yards. It’s like Boldin wasn’t even there. A week earlier, he had gone off, just went nuts against the Packers, and people were writing he was the answer and the savior and the bee’s knees. Wrong. The truth is good corners — cue Seattle’s Richard Sherman — take him out of the game.
Oh, but wait. Michael Crabtree is back and he changes the equation. Defenses shudder at the mere sight of No. 15 and that opens up the offense for greatness.
The Seahawks will jam Crabtree at the line of scrimmage. They’ll disrupt his routes. They’ll make him look like someone slowed by a serious injury. Pete Carroll will control him with one defender because, believe me, Carroll won’t show him any respect.
Vernon Davis will make a certain amount of plays — he’s that good. But the Seahawks always do well against him. He has not caught a touchdown pass against them since 2010. The last game against Seattle at Candlestick Park he caught no passes.
You may think I’m missing the Colin Kaepernick factor. Here’s the fantasy storyline: He will prove his superiority over Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson once and for all and lead his team to a stunning and glorious victory against those obnoxious bullies from the north.
Kaepernick will rise up like a superhero in a comic book and deliver a heroic performance that makes everything right.
It’s just that he hasn’t been particularly heroic in a long time.
Don’t expect him to be Superman or Spider-Man or Captain Marvel in today’s game. There simply are no indications this will be his signature performance. He was not a hero against Carolina, and now he’s going to be a hero against Seattle? Not likely.
What you will see, I believe, is Colin One-Read Kaepernick dropping back to pass with no one to pass to, Kaepernick looking confused, Kaepernick scrambling. And that will work some of the time. It just won’t work enough of the time.
But, Frank Gore will have a (big, huge, gigantic enormous, whopping) game. Don’t kid yourself. He is not running well. His legs look old. Bad teams have stopped him.
The Seahawks are not a bad team. Gore’s job is tougher because the 49ers’ offensive line is hurt and won’t block well enough for him.
The Niners’ defense will play well because it is among the best. It is a pleasure to watch — intelligent, strong, determined. And it will frustrate the Seahawks often. But it doesn’t do well with Marshawn Lynch. And it doesn’t do well with the read-option.
Remember the read-option? The Niners’ offense was supposed to knock the socks off the league with the read-option — until the Niners gave up on the read-option after two games.
Well, the read-option is alive and well in Seattle, and Wilson murdered the 49ers in Week 2 running it. It was tough to stop then and it’s just as tough to stop now. One more thing. And this is a gut-feeling thing. Jim Harbaugh used to have the edge against Carroll going back to college ball — “What’s your deal” and all that. I feel the edge had shifted and Carroll has it now. He’s built his team specifically to beat the Niners, specifically to control the NFC West. If he wins today, he wins the NFC West title.
My gut feeling says he will.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.