On one level the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are mirror images in championship keys. Both run the ball very well: San Francisco third in rush yardage, Seattle fourth. Both are elite defenses: San Francisco No. 5 in yardage, No. 3 in scoring; Seattle No. 1 in both.
And therein lies the tipping point.
The two times the 49ers have beat the Seahawks over the past two seasons were close games in San Francisco with Frank Gore running for a combined 248 yards. In Seattle, whether because of noise disrupting the offense or just a good team playing well at home (16-1 over the past two seasons, including the divisional-round win over New Orleans last Sunday), the 49ers are not the team they are in the Bay Area.
The 49ers were blown out (29-3) in Seattle in Week 2 when the Seahawks simply ran Marshawn Lynch at them 28 times for two touchdowns and ran for a team total of 172 yards. Gore has had 16 and 28 yards in games at Seattle the past two seasons.
When the 49ers won (19-17) in San Francisco this season, it was with Gore running for 117 yards and Phil Dawson kicking four field goals, the last with 26 seconds remaining for the winning points.
Specifically, Colin Kaepernick has not figured out how to beat Seattle. The 49ers are 2-2 against the Seahawks in Kaepernick games, but the quarterback has thrown five interceptions vs. two touchdown passes, barely 50 percent completion percentage. And his passer rating of 53.4 is his lowest against any team he has faced more than once.
Seattle can lose at home. It just won’t happen this Sunday.
Seattle 23, San Francisco 20
Get Moon's pick for the AFC championship game between the Broncos and Patriots.