A superstar on the hardwood in college, he hasn’t had much trouble transitioning to the gridiron. Thomas, who was a two-sport athlete during his days at Portland State, was a third-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft. His 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame is a nightmare for defense to defend. After a Pro Bowl nomination this season, Thomas is scratching the surface of his potential and is in the elite-TE conversation.
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Seahawks WR Jermaine Kearse
He hasn't been on the field much this season, but with Percy Harvin a possible question mark going into Sunday's game, Kearse could have a chance to break a big play with his breakaway speed.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
49ers kicker Phil Dawson
Why is a kicker on this list? Simple, this game is going to be a slugfest and could come down to field position and special teams. Both teams might have trouble reaching the end zone and field goals may end up carrying the day. If San Francisco aims to survive in inhospitable Seattle, Dawson's leg just might save them. He better be sharp.
Patriots OLB Jamie Collins
The second-round rookie from Southern Miss had his breakout game a Week 12 34-31 overtime win against the Broncos. Collins, who led his high school team to back-to-back state title games as a quarterback, has enough athleticism to wreck an opposing coordinator’s game plan. Collins took over the game against the Colts, racking up 6 tackles, a sack, interception and a pass defensed.
Getty ImagesJim Rogash
Patriots CB Logan Ryan
The rookie from Rutgers has made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. Outside of Seattle’s Richard Sherman, Ryan has allowed the lowest quarterback rating of any cornerback in the NFL (53.3). While he’s been a problem for his opponents all year, Ryan had his breakout game in Week 16 against the Ravens, when he had two interceptions.
Stew Milne-USA TODAY SportsStew Milne
Seahawks CB Byron Maxwell
Maxwell is currently replacing suspended cornerback Brandon Browner on the field, but has played well so far. Physical and capable of matching up with anyone, Maxwell will find himself on the field opposite Pro Bowler Richard Sherman. If the 49ers try to spread the field with multiple receivers, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick might look his way, as he might be the "safest" option to throw against in a loaded Seahawks secondary. Maxwell will have a chance to make a play on Sunday.
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY SportsJim O'Connor
Broncos OC Adam Gase
The Broncos rookie offensive coordinator is a hot name to fill head coaching vacancies this postseason. Gase, who was promoted from QB coach to coordinator in January, earned recognition from Peyton Manning after he dialed up a perfect play call on a critical third-and-17 last week.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
Broncos DE Malik Jackson
The Broncos’ second-year defensive end made his impact felt in the divisional round against the Chargers. Jackson, who lines up opposite Shaun Phillips, has pleased his coaches and has shown great improvement.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
Seahawks RB Robert Turbin
Turbin's major role is to spell starter Marshawn Lynch for a few plays here and there, but he does have better speed than Beast Mode. If the Seahawks stick to their guns and continue to run the football, Turbin will be relied on to give the offense a burst to counter the power and pounding style of Lynch. If he can get into the open field, look out.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
49ers RB Kendall Hunter
The change-of-pace back opposite starter Frank Gore, Hunter could play a crucial role. The third-year running back could find some room against a Seahawks defense that had problems stopping the run against the Saints in the divisional round. Look for the 49ers to try and get him the ball in space and see if he can turn on the jets.