The Richter Scale crowds in Seattle are making a mockery of competitive fairness in the NFL. It’s one thing for the home crowd to make it difficult for an opposing offense to operate, but quite another to make it flat out impossible. The lopsided nature of this advantage has turned the NFC playoffs into pretty much a foregone conclusion. Which is bad for business.
The 49ers have a chance to bring Seattle back to earth this Sunday, but it would surprise me if they do. The team’s running game has been stuffed three weeks in a row and the passing game, while certainly better than it was, is nowhere close to being a juggernaut.
The season long inability of this team to beat teams with winning records also factors against a 49er victory Sunday. Win or lose, they will still probably make it into the playoffs, but they have yet to demonstrate they belong in the elite 12.
Something has to give Sunday. The Seahawks haven’t beaten the Niners at Candlestick since 2008, Mike Singletary’s first game as HC, and the famous pants dropping half time speech. On the other hand, Colin Kaepernick has never beaten the Seahawks, losing badly in two efforts, both of them occurring in Seattle. This game is a chance for him to play them on a level playing field. Coming away with a victory might not save this season for the team, but it would bode well for the future.
The two NFC wild card teams will both be better than the division winning entries from the NFC North and East. This is not the case in the AFC, where one of the entries will be from among the two 6-6 teams or one of the 5-7 hanger ons. Both conferences are top-heavy, with about four or five good teams each and a cast of nobodies underneath.
Rookie WR Quinton Patton is practicing again, back from a broken foot earlier in the year. It does not appear he will be activated for any of the remaining four games of the season, though. Barring an injury to the big three (Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham) or special teams ace Kassim Osgood, our erstwhile 4th WR on a team that rarely ever uses 3 WR sets, let alone 4. If Patton stays inactive, it will mark the second straight year the 49ers have drafted a WR who made zero catches in his maiden year. Technically, Patton has made ONE catch this year, but why stand on a technicality?
Scot McCloughan may or may not be in attendance for Sunday’s games, but he helped build both of the rosters on the field. At that 2008 game, he was in the first year of his disastrous GM role for the 49ers, elevated from back stage talent evaluator — his specialty — to front line GM — his downfall. A living example of the Peter Principle.
Core members of the 49ers recruited by him are still on the team: Frank Gore, Joe Staley, Adam Snyder, Alex Boone, Tarell Brown, Vernon Davis, Ray McDonald, Patrick Willis, and Crabtree. McCloughan also reeled in FA stalwart Justin Smith. Not sure which members of the Seahawks he has had a hand in drafting over the past three years, but Seattle’s drafts have been excellent during his time up there, which is probably not a coincidence.