Take 2 is going into hurry-up mode throughout the week, posting national media reaction on the Seahawks-49ers showdown Sunday.
Among the subjects being written midweek are CenturyLink Field’s ability to amplify noise, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, and San Francisco’s Anquan Boldin and Colin Kaepernick.
Think of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field like a child, one that grows up and graduates from law school. That is how AECOM’s Jon Niemuth views his design and the recognition it now gets for creating pure noise. He did all that work to get it there, but never quite knew how it would all turn out. CenturyLink has graduated, certainly, building a fact-based resume as one of the — if not the – loudest outdoor stadiums in all of sports.
And it was by design.
I thought I had played in some loud atmospheres in college at N.C. State, but nothing could have prepared me for our Week 9 game against the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. In most NFL stadiums when you’re on the road, it gets loud on third down and whenever you’re in the red zone. But in Seattle? It’s loud on every single down, no matter where you are on the field. It feels like there’s someone with a megaphone screaming in your ear. Only it seems more amplified than a megaphone. The deafening noise has a lot to do with the architecture of the stadium, but you have to give those fans a lot of credit.
Russell Wilson‘s passing was mostly grounded, and the oft-injured Percy Harvin was knocked out of the action with a concussion, but the Seahawks still took down the Saints. Seattle won behind tackle-breaking machine Marshawn Lynch (in postseason Beast Mode, evidently) and a suffocating defense that rattled New Orleans’ top weapon, Jimmy Graham.
Here, he is Beast Mode — the Skittles-chomping, stiff-arming superhero who has rushed for more than 5,000 yards with 50 trips to the end zone since arriving from the Buffalo Bills in a 2010 trade.
But almost every Monday, (Marshawn) Lynch takes the short flight to the Bay Area, where he’s still Marshawn. The No.24 Seahawks jerseys seen in the heart of 49ers country Sunday will give away the pride his hometown takes in his success.
The percentage of running plays during the playoffs is the highest in more than a decade. The run-to-pass ratio in this year’s playoffs is 45.8 to 54.2. That’s 1.6 percent above last year and 5.9 above the 2011 playoffs, when the ratio was 39.9 to 61.1.
The strategy is understandable. To win in games in wind, rain or snow, teams can’t just throw the ball. The pass-happy New Orleans Saints changed philosophies during their two playoff games. Against the Philadelphia Eagles and Seahawks, coach Sean Payton used two- and three-tight-end sets with the hopes of running the ball.
Payton knew the only way to stay close to the Seahawks on Saturday was to try the run. Gusting winds made it tough for Drew Brees and Russell Wilson during the two quarters they were throwing toward the south end of CenturyLink Stadium.
As the 49ers head into Sunday’s mega-NFC Championship game against Seattle, Anquan Boldin has more than replaced Randy Moss in the 49ers’ offense beside Michael Crabtree.
To put it bluntly, Boldin has basically erased Moss, a future Hall of Famer, from all 49ers memory banks so decisively that it puts Boldin’s own Hall of Fame candidacy in much grander perspective.
Kaepernick is the NFL’s first hip-hop quarterback, fashion-wise, although I don’t know how deep his hip-hop-ness goes. For all I know, Kaepernick, through his ever-present headphones, is listening to Barry Manilow or Bach.
Sometimes how you dress is how you play. Willie Nelson didn’t achieve widespread popularity or full artistic expression until he dumped his suits and ties and became the scruffy outlaw in the ponytail and bandanna.
For (Donte) Whitner, the strategy is obvious – take away the running back and make the quarterback beat them – but he acknowledged the execution won’t be easy.
How hard is it to stop Lynch?
“Very difficult,” Whitner said. “Everyone’s been trying to do that all year and they can’t do it. But if we want to go where we want to go, we have to do it. That’s the mindset.”
The 12th man resides in Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks undoubtedly have one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL thanks to raucous fans and an incredible stadium designer. It’s one of the reasons they’ve lost just once at home in the past two seasons combined. During that time, they’ve thrashed the 49ers twice, by a combined score of 71-16. Can the 49ers really go into CenturyLink Field and win a meaningful playoff game? Can anyone?
This rivalry starts on the sidelines and works its way toward the center of the field. Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers coach who often seems at odds with pretty much everyone not a 49er, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll, whose bearing seems geared to get under people’s skin, lob Scuds toward each other with comforting regularity.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman and 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, both fine players, seem hard-wired to keep up a steady stream of game-time barking. And their friends join in.
The one thing that has driven me crazy in recent weeks is Wilson’s aversion to taking off with the ball and trying to get the first down or score a touchdown. We all know he can do it, since he’s done it before as a pro. Wilson does take off, but he just doesn’t do it enough.
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