Momentum is one of those things that most coaches like to believe doesn’t exist, but most sports fans will tell you that whether it’s confidence, belief or even some bizarre adaptation of destiny momentum is a palpable force, especially in knock out competitions. Since the Seahawks lost to the 49ers in San Francisco back in December they have laboured to 3 wins and suffered a shock home defeat to the Cardinals. The 49ers haven’t lost since they beat the Seahawks 5 weeks ago; in fact their winning streak now stands at 8 games, their last defeat coming by just 3 points in New Orleans on the 17th of November.
Now there are plenty of statistics to prove just how good these two teams have been, but the major indicator of their success is that they’re both just 1 game away from the Super Bowl! The 49ers have not been victorious in Seattle since 2010 when 1 touchdown from Frank Gore and 4 field goals saw them run out winners 19 – 17. In recent meetings in Seattle Colin Kaepernick has struggled to run the 49ers in the deafening noise created by Seattle’s “12th man”, the nickname they give their home fans. Another key factor for the 49ers is the run game, they’ve had a tendency to abandon it if they fall behind early in the game but as Frank Gore has been the leading rusher in 10 of their 12 wins this season the faith in their all time rushing leader must not waiver. The Seahawks will be reliant on their star running back Marshawn Lynch to do most of their heavy lifting on offence; they scored 2 touchdowns last week both by Lynch with 3 field goals eventually proving the difference between them and a Saints team who seriously stifled the Seahawks offence. The Seahawks managed just 277 yards of total offence, 143 of which were recorded by Lynch.
Both teams have strong defences and the 49ers 4 goal line stops against the Carolina Panthers all but assured them of a place in the Championship game, only once this season has a team scored more than 24 points against the 49ers and that was Green Bay in week 1. Since the their week loss in San Francisco the Seahawks have scored more than 24 points just once and that was against a St Louis Rams defence, who on average, conceded 23 points per game during the regular season.
Maybe it’s the old romantic in me, but it would seem that all signs point toward San Francisco stopping the rot on the road in the Pacific Northwest tonight. But here’s the problem, the Seahawks should have lost both of their last games but when teams step onto the grassturf at CenturyLink Field strange things happen. The 49ers know that Seattle have the best secondary in football and throwing the ball would be like throwing Kaepernick into the Grizzly Bear enclosure at Seattle’s Woodland Park zoo, but that hasn’t stopped them on their last visits. The Saints proved last week that Seattle’s offence is fairly 1 dimensional and easy to contain, but if Marshawn Lynch can turn “Beastmode” twice in 2 weeks then a spot in an outdoor cold weather Super Bowl is theirs. I’m sticking with the romance though and I think the 49ers momentum can carry them through what will surely be a fiercely competitive, bad tempered Ice Hockey brawl of a Championship game. The pain of losing last year’s “Harbaugh Bowl” should focus the 49ers collective minds just long enough to stop fighting and win a game of football, one way or another controversy is almost guaranteed.