Seahawks-49ers Preview

With a playoff spot already secured, the Seattle Seahawks can

focus on achieving some loftier goals.

Though the San Francisco 49ers have been dominated by their

division rivals in the last two meetings, they’ll have more than

revenge on their minds Sunday.

Looking for an eighth straight victory, the Seahawks can clinch

the NFC West and a first-round bye while trying to avoid a fifth

consecutive road defeat to the 49ers.

Owner of the NFL’s best record, Seattle (11-1) earned a playoff

berth after running its home win streak to 14 games with Monday’s

34-7 rout of New Orleans.

“We accomplished something; we’re a playoff team, which is great

to know that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “But that’s not our goal,

and we don’t talk that way.

“We want to win this division, and that division gets us a

chance to play at home, and that’s what we’re after. And then we’ll

talk about what comes next.”

Looking for a single-season franchise-record sixth road win, the

Seahawks can clinch the division and a first-round bye with a tie

or a third straight victory over San Francisco (8-4). They need

only split their final four games to earn home-field advantage

throughout the NFC playoffs.

“Everybody that is on this team understands that we are in a

great position to do something that will last longer than our

playing days and we’re trying to take advantage of every

opportunity that we have,” said defensive end Red Bryant, who

helped the Seahawks hold the high-powered Saints to a season-low

188 total yards.

However, the Seahawks likely don’t expect their next challenge

to be easy.

Seattle has held the 49ers to 520 total yards while outscoring

them 71-16 in the last two meetings, but both came within the

deafening confines of CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks, on the other

hand, have been outscored 109-54 during their four-game skid at

Candlestick Park.

While the 49ers can use that home success as a

confidence-builder, avenging the last two losses in the series

won’t be their major means of motivation.

“I’ve never taken the revenge approach,” coach Jim Harbaugh

said. “Validation, we want to play well, we want to win. … Your

goal is to win the football game. That’s really all-consuming, you

want to win.”

After outscoring Washington and St. Louis 50-19 in its last two

games, San Francisco has a one-game lead for the NFC’s final

wild-card spot.

“You definitely want to come out and play well, at home, and

show everybody what we can do against a really good team,” fullback

Bruce Miller said. “Right now, our goal is to finish out the year

and keep winning games and get to the postseason.”

Colin Kaepernick has done a solid job managing the 49ers offense

by completing 65.4 percent of his passes while throwing four

touchdowns and no interceptions over the last two weeks. However,

during the 29-3 loss at Seattle on Sept. 15, he was 13 of 28 for

127 yards with three interceptions and a fumble while being sacked

three times. He did rush nine times for 87 yards.

Teammate Frank Gore ran for 131 yards and caught five passes for

51 during last season’s 13-6 home win over the Seahawks, but was

held to 44 yards on 15 carries and one catch for 14 in the last two

at Seattle.

The Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch has totaled five touchdowns in the

last two games against the 49ers and averaged 104.8 rushing yards

in the last four. The Seahawks have rushed for 348 yards in the

last two versus San Francisco, which ranks 11th in the NFL against

the run (105.5 yards per game).

Russell Wilson threw an INT without a TD in last season’s loss

at San Francisco, but has five touchdowns and two picks in the two

wins. He’s also completed 73.0 percent of his passes in his last

four games overall, thrown 14 of his 22 touchdowns in the last six

and only two of his six interceptions in the last seven.

In addition to trying to handle the Seahawks on both sides of

the ball, the 49ers understand the importance of keeping their

composure against an opponent that likes to trash talk. The teams

combined for 22 penalties in the first 2013 meeting, with a

season-high 12 for 121 yards by San Francisco.

The 49ers committed nine penalties during last Sunday’s 23-13

home win over St. Louis, but only Tampa Bay has been penalized more

often this season than Seattle.

“Any time you play a team and you lose, the next time you face

them is definitely a statement game,” San Francisco tight end

Vernon Davis said. “Not just for us, but for anybody.

“So we have to go into this game playing hard, playing fast, and

initially we have to make some noise right away. That’s going to be

the challenge for us. We have to go in and play this game the way

it’s supposed to be played.”

Davis has recorded a TD in three straight games, but has four

total receptions in the last three against the Seahawks and no

touchdowns in his last five meetings. The 49ers’ receiving corps

will be healthier than in the first meeting, though, after Michael

Crabtree made his season debut against the Rams and caught two

passes for 68 yards.

San Francisco’s offensive line, however, may be missing two of

its anchors. Left tackle Joe Staley is likely out after he injured

his knee last Sunday, while guard Mike Iupati may miss a third

straight game with a similar injury.

Seattle receiver Percy Harvin hopes to play after he missed

Monday’s contest while dealing with soreness in his surgically

repaired hip.