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There is going to be no shortage of bull piped over every air wave this week about the upcoming title bout between the two best teams in football, Seattle and San Francisco. Not here. At least not in this article. This is where myths come to be exposed.
Myth #1: Michael Crabtree Changes Everything
A prominent story line this week will be that San Francisco is a different team with Michael Crabtree, and he did not play in the first game versus Seattle. Those can be both be true statements, but still tell you very little about how Crabtree plays against Seattle.
FACT: Crabtree has never scored a touchdown against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks
FACT: Crabtree averages 3 catches and 34 yards per game vs Seattle since 2010
FACT: Crabtree played in Seattle last year during the Seahawks 42-13 victory
Myth #2: This game is Wilson vs. Kaepernick
Besides the fact that quarterbacks do not face each other, this game will be more about the running game than the passing game.
FACT: The team that has ended the game with more rushing yards in 8-0 in this rivalry since 2010
FACT: Colin Kaepernick had 87 rushing yards in the first game this year, and SF was still out-rushed by 72 yards
FACT: Frank Gore had not had 100+ yards rushing in Seattle since 2006
FACT: Gore has averaged 120.5 yards rushing vs. Seattle at home, but just 22 yards rushing in Seattle the last two years
Myth #3: Seattle has never faced a hot Kaepernick
Kaepernick is playing terrific football right now. He finished the regular season going over 100.0 in passer rating for six of his last seven games. He totaled over 300 total yards of offense versus Green Bay and had two touchdowns against the Panthers. There is reason for 49ers fans to be emboldened by his play, but history suggests his play against the rest of the NFL has little correlation to his play against the Seahawks.
FACT: Before Kaepernick’s first game as a starter versus Seattle, he was one of the hottest quarterbacks in football, and was coming off of back-to-back games of 100+ passer rating, including a 108.5 game in New England where he had 4 touchdowns. He left Seattle with a 72.0 rating, his worst as a starter up until that point.
FACT: Before Kaepernick’s second game against Seattle, he set a career high with 412 yards passing versus the Packers and a 129.4 rating that included 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He left Seattle with a career-worst 20.1 passer rating that featured 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.
FACT: Before Kaepernick’s third game against Seattle, he had two straight games of 100+ passer rating, including a 134.6 against the Redskins. He finished the game against the Seahawks with a 67.5 rating after being intercepted by Byron Maxwell. That game included Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Seattle only got 2 sacks and 3 quarterback hits in that game. It was the only time in the last 9 games that he had a rating below 72.9.
FACT: Kaepernick has combined for a 52.9 passer rating in three career starts versus Seattle with 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions
Myth #4: Vernon Davis would have made a difference if he was not knocked out last year in Seattle
Davis is one of the best tight ends in football, and actually seems like a pretty cool guy. He has not been afraid to praise the Seahawks or the Seattle fans. He has been on fire of late, scoring a touchdown in 8 of his last 9 games. Wow. The one game he didn’t score, he did not play. He has generally struggled against Seattle.
FACT: Davis has averaged 3.5 catches and 39 yards per game versus the Seahawks sine 2010
FACT: Davis scored a touchdown in the last game between these teams, but has only 2 in the past 8 match-ups
FACT: Davis has had under 30 yards receiving in four straight games vs Seattle and under 60 in six straight
Myth #5: Anquan Boldin can’t be stopped
Boldin is one of my favorite players in the NFL. It is hard to have anything but respect for a guy that plays with his toughness and penchant for clutch plays. Still, he has not fared well up here.
FACT: Boldin may have had 93 yards receiving in San Francisco, but in his two games in Seattle since 2010, he has totaled 29 yards and 3 catches
FACT: Boldin has not scored a touchdown against Seattle in his three games since 2010
Myth #6: The 49ers have a massive advantage at receiver
Crabtree and Boldin are good players, but neither has had much success against this defense. Seattle has some players that have had particular success against San Francisco.
FACT: No player has had more receiving touchdowns against San Francisco in the past three years than Doug Baldwin, who has four
FACT: One-third of Baldwin’s career touchdowns have come against the 49ers
FACT: Baldwin has the 4th-most receiving yards against the 49ers since 2011 despite playing in an offense that passes less than any other in football
FACT: In Percy Harvin’s one game against the 49ers last year, he had 9 receptions in 11 targets for 89 yards, and a run for 9 yards. His total yardage of 98 yards in that game is more than any receiver for either team has totaled against their respective opponent in a single game.
Myth #7: San Francisco has a massive advantage in the offensive line
I would say the 49ers offensive line is the best in football. They feature tons of top-shelf talent that has been healthy and cohesive for a number of years. Seattle has been shuffling it’s line due to injury all year, but has stabilized now. When these teams play each other, there is reason to think the line advantage goes to Seattle.
FACT: No player has rushed for more yards against the 49ers since Jim Harbaugh arrived than Marshawn Lynch
FACT: Lynch’s 524 yards rushing over that span is over 200 yards more than the nearest follower
FACT: No player in the NFL has more than 2 rushing touchdowns against the 49ers since 2011 except Lynch who has 5. Frank Gore has just 1 touchdown during that same span.
FACT: Russell Wilson has been sacked 2.3 times per start versus San Francisco compared to 3.0 for Kapernick versus Seattle
FACT: Michael Bowie did not play in either game versus San Francisco this year. Seattle had the best rushing total of their last six games in his first start versus New Orleans
Myth #8: The 49ers are the only ones getting key players back
Mike Iupati did not play in the last game in San Francisco between these teams. Neither did Tarrell Brown. But the 49ers have lost Bruce Miller, and possibly his replacement at fullback. Laugh if you want, but Miller has more receiving yards against Seattle this year than Vernon Davis (FACT). Carlos Rogers may also be out. Seattle did not have Brandon Browner for any of the past three games against the 49ers. Seattle has gained some important contributors back since the last game.
FACT: Walter Thurmond III deflected a ball in the first game that led to a crucial interception, but did not play in the last game
FACT: Harvin did not play in either game
FACT: Bowie did not play in either game, and Max Unger left the last game with a chest injury
FACT: That last game was just the second game back for tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini
FACT: K.J. Wright had to leave the last game. He may play in this one
Myth #9: The Seahawks Offense has to play better to beat San Francisco
Seattle will certainly have an easier time winning if their offense has a better game, but it is not necessary for a win, even a resounding win.
FACT: Seattle had just 277 yards of offense versus New Orleans. They had 290 yards in their 29-3 win earlier this year over San Francisco
Myth #10: Russell Wilson has to play better to beat San Francisco
Wilson has not been playing his best football, but he has not had to for Seattle to win.
FACT: Seattle had 103 yards passing versus New Orleans. They had 118 in the first game versus the 49ers
FACT: Wilson was just 8/19 in the first game when the Seahawks won by 26 points
Knowledge is power
There will certainly be other myths that crop up as the week rolls along. I will do my best to provide facts. Share this information with other fans so they know when to shut off the talking heads on TV since they so often have no basis for their opinions.
FACT: Both of these teams deserve to be in this game