KICKOFF: 6:30 p.m. EST Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle
THE LINE: Seahawks by 3 1/2
KEY INJURIES: San Francisco -- Questionable: CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring), RB Will Tukuafu (knee). Seattle -- Out: WR Percy Harvin; Questionable: DT Jordan Hill (groin).
EDGE >> 49ERS
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick finally has a full set of receivers with the return of WR Michael Crabtree, who teams with WR Anquan Boldin and TE Vernon Davis as a dangerous combination. Davis caught his seventh career playoff TD against Carolina, tying Hall of Famer Dave Casper for the most in postseason history. Kaepernick averaged 13.16 yards per completion during the regular season, second to Philadelphia's Nick Foles (14.24) and two spots ahead of Seattle's Russell Wilson (13.06). Wilson threw for just 103 yards in the win over New Orleans but completed a huge pass to WR Doug Baldwin that converted a game-clinching third down.
EDGE >> SEAHAWKS
49ers RB Frank Gore is coming off 17 carry, 84-yard performance at Carolina, including a 39-yard TD run. Gore has averaged 90.3 yards rushing in his postseason career and has five rushing TDs in his last five playoff games. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch has been almost unstoppable at home in the postseason. He rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns last week against New Orleans, and he has three 100-yard performances in five career playoff games. He's averaged 98.2 yards per game in the last five meetings with the 49ers. The wild cards are Kaepernick and Wilson. Kaepernick rushed for 98 yards against Green Bay, and his 377 yards rushing in five career playoff games rank No. 5 all-time among quarterbacks. Wilson ran for 539 yards during the regular season to Kaepernick's 524.
EDGE >> SEAHAWKS
Seattle's defense ranked No. 1 in the regular season in points allowed (14.4), yards allowed (273.6), passing yards allowed (172.0), interceptions (28), takeaways (39) and turnover differential (plus-20). The only other teams to rank No. 1 in passing defense and in interceptions in a season went to the Super Bowl -- Tampa Bay in 2002; Miami in 1982. No team scored on its opening drive against the Seahawks. The 49ers ranked No. 5 overall on defense. LB NaVorro Bowman was the only player in the NFL this season with 100-plus tackles, five sacks, four forced fumbles, and an INT for TD. LB Ahmad Brooks has had 4 1/2 sacks in two playoff games this year.
EDGE >> 49ERS
San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh is the first coach to reach the championship round in his first three seasons since the 1970 merger. He lost one NFC championship game in overtime to the Giants and won last year at Atlanta. This is San Francisco's fourth straight road game dating to the regular-season finale, and he maintained the club's routine of traveling on Friday, even though they're in the same time zone. Seattle's Pete Carroll has won two national championships at Southern California. A trip to the Super Bowl would show he has come a long way from washing out at New England and with the Jets.
EDGE >> SEAHAWKS
We know all about the Seahawks' intimidating 12th Man, which creates the loudest venue in all of sports, and the effect it has on visiting teams. In the last two games in Seattle, the Seahawks won by a combined 71-16, including a 29-3 win on Sept. 15 in which Seattle took advantage of five 49er turnovers. In the last two games in San Francisco, the 49ers won by a combined 32-23, including a 19-17 win on Dec. 8 that went down to the final minute.
FACE TO FACE
Seahawks CB Richard Sherman vs. 49ers WR Anquan Boldin or Michael Crabtree
Sherman led the NFL with eight INTs, and even more impressively, those eight picks came on just 58 targets. Sherman, who held Boldin to one catch for 7 yards when Crabtree missed the first meeting, won't shadow a single receiver but will line up on the left side and take who ever lines up on the strong side. The 49ers have had 100-yard receivers in each of their seven postseason games under coach Jim Harbaugh, including at Green Bay and Carolina this year.
WHY THE 49ERS WILL WIN
The 49ers are healthier than they've been all season, and OLB Aldon Smith is playing his best football after a five-game absence while at a drug rehab center. The road doesn't intimidate Kaepernick. He's 3-0 on the road in his postseason career, including a win at Atlanta in last year's NFC championship game.
WHY THE SEAHAWKS WILL WIN
Wilson and the Seahawks just don't lose at home. Wilson's 15 regular-season home wins are the most by a player in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. The Seahawks defense and the noise will force Kaepernick into mistakes, and Wilson will capitalize.
Randy Covitz's prediction: Seahawks 19-17
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