Here’s our weekly First Look at Seattle’s upcoming opponent, which this week is Colin Kaepernick (above in an AP photo) and the San Francisco 49ers;
Seahawks opponent: San Francisco
Game time: 1:25 p.m. Pacific Time, Sunday, Candlestick Park.
Coach: Jim Harbaugh, 32-11-1, third season.
Last game: Beat St. Louis 23-13.
The series: The Seahawks lead it 15-14 and have taken the last two by a combined 71-16. Each of those games was in Seattle, however. The 49ers won last year in San Francisco, 13-6, and haven’t lost to the Seahawks at home since 2008.
The early line: 49ers by 3.
Key players: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has had an up-and-down second year as a starter, but has been better the last two weeks now that the 49ers again have all of their receiving corps with the return from injury of Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick has completed 34 of 52 passes for 510 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in wins over the Rams and Redskins. Running back Frank Gore, who has had some of the best games of his career against Seattle, is having a solid season with 821 yards. But he has just 121 yards on 41 carries in the last three games. Anquan Boldin is San Francisco’s leading receiver with 61 receptionis and is coming off one of his best games with nine receptions against the Rams. Linebacker Aldon Smith, who sat out a month while in rehab for substance abuse, is back and has 6.5 sacks for the season. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman leads the 49ers in tackles with 111, which is also fourth in the NFL.
San Francisco’s keys to success: It’s not quite this simple, obviously, but statistically, the 49ers go as Kaepernick goes. The second-year starter has an 88.9 quarterback rating for the season, but just 46.2 in the team’s four losses, which includes a season-low 20.1 in Seattle’s 29-3 win over the 49ers on Sept. 15. In that game, the 49ers couldn’t run, with Gore getting just 16 on nine carries, forcing Kaepernick to throw more to an under-manned receiving corps. Richard Sherman helped lead an effort that limited Vernon Davis to just three catches for 20 yards. Expect the 49ers to open it up more this game, though, with Crabtree and Manningham back. The 49ers are averaging just 180.3 passing yards for the season but are at 255 the last two games. Defensively, the 49ers remain a stingy unit, ranking third against the pass (206.2) and 11th against the run (105.5). They also have a plus-six turnover ratio. The 49ers, however, were minus-four in turnovers in Seattle, losing two fumbles with Kaepernick also throwing three of the seven interceptions he has for the season. The 49ers held Seattle to just 290 yards, the Seahawks’ third-lowest total of the season, but were done in by their own turnovers and an offense that managed just 207.
BY THE NUMBERS
5 — San Francisco is one of five teams this year not to allow a 100-yard rusher. The others are Cleveland, Denver, Detroit and the Jets (Marshawn Lynch had 98 on 28 carries in week two).
16.4 — Points allowed per game by the 49ers, third in the NFL behind Carolina at 13.1 and Seattle at 15.5.
50 — Career TD receptions for Vernon Davis, fourth in SF history behind Jerry Rice (176), Terrell Owens (81) and Gene Washington (59).