Seahawks can afford to shrug off acrimony

Staff writerDecember 8, 2013 

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) gets sacked by St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers on Dec. 1.

MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The blood is rumored to be bad and the anger festering, which suits the Seattle Seahawks fine.

Word out of San Francisco is the 49ers don’t like the Seahawks and the Seahawks don’t like 49ers. It’s a burgeoning rivalry born of battering-ram playing styles.

Yet, one of the Seahawks’ most vociferous agitators put forth little more than a shoulder shrug when asked about any ill will associated with Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. game between the Seahawks and 49ers at Candlestick Park.

“I mean, I feel like they feel that way,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “We just go out and play our game. Every week is a championship week, we just go out and play our ballgame, execute, and make a great game plan. Our coaches do a great job scouting and we go out there and worry about what we have to do. We don’t worry about anything else.”

Sherman can afford to temper his rhetoric because the Seahawks have hammered the 49ers the past two meetings. In the past two games, Seattle is 2-0 by a combined score of 71-16, including a 29-3 late-game knockout in Week 2 this season.

Both were at CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks have won 14 consecutive games. The last time the Seahawks played in Candlestick Park, they lost 13-6 on Oct. 18, 2012, in Russell Wilson’s seventh career game as an NFL quarterback.

“I’ve just learned so much more from the experience that I’ve had,” Wilson said. “The coaches really truly trust me now, in terms of the play calling and being able to check calls and make calls and making sure our reads are on the money, on time.”

Seattle was able to bait and shove the 49ers into five turnovers in their first game this season, four from regressing quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick was intercepted three times and fumbled once.

The 49ers, like the Seahawks, have a run-first offense, which is 31st in the league in passing yards. Kaepernick’s completion percentage (62.4 down to 57.8), quarterback rating (72.2 to 66.9) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (from a little better than 3:1 down to just more than 2:1) have declined.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh sees no issues, however.

“He’s just playing A-plus, and competing A-plus, and his strong leadership has been A-plus,” Harbaugh said. “Everything has been really good. He’s got a wonderful competitive heart; I just love that about him.”

The Seahawks like that Kaepernick seems to get rattled if he has to go through read progressions while horseshoed into the pocket. He’s thrown seven interceptions all season, three of which were against Seattle. He’s faced them twice and has four interceptions and one touchdown.

“We understand how they want to attack us,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “When you know how a team wants to attack you no matter what they run, you can eliminate a lot of stuff and just play fast.”

A win would bring a meaningful shift. The Seahawks could clinch the NFC West Division title on San Francisco’s home ground, the franchise’s first division title since 2010. The 49ers have earned the past two and represented the NFC in last season’s Super Bowl.

Seattle already has bagged a playoff spot. The next pursuit is the division title, followed by home advantage throughout the playoffs. With four games remaining, both are more attainable than unlikely.

A grandiose step toward each can be taken Sunday.

Todd Dybas todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks

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