Here’s a pregame post of national media picks. Most are still picking the Seahawks in a very tight game, but more are picking the 49ers than earlier in the week.
Three of four pick Seahawks.
Bob Condotta: Sure, the play of the Seattle offense of late is a reason for some angst. And the 49ers are an experienced group (this is their third straight conference title game) that is on a roll. But this is the situation the Seahawks wanted — a home conference title game to get to the Super Bowl — and the CenturyLink crowd should be enough one more time. Seahawks 17, 49ers 13
Nine of 14 pick the Seahawks.
San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Lynch picks the Seahawks, and after being blasted about his choice, defends it in a blog post.
Three of six pick Seahawks
Seven of nine pick Seahawks
Don Banks: With Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin all in the lineup and clicking at the same time, the 49ers offense will not remotely resemble the grasping and limited unit that got dominated and pushed around in San Francisco’s 29-3 loss in Seattle in Week 2. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is playing with more confidence than at any point since the season-opening win against visiting Green Bay, and winning three consecutive games on the road (including a tough Week 17 trip to red-hot Arizona) has steeled San Francisco with the necessary mental toughness and resolve needed to face the pressure-cooker that awaits at CenturyLink Field. Kaepernick has thrown just one interception in his past 146 pass attempts, but Seattle’s secondary is always near the ball and presents the game’s ultimate challenge when it comes to squeezing passes into tight windows. The Seahawks made one of the NFL’s most accurate throwers, the Saints’ Drew Brees, look like he was a scout-teamer for the first three quarters of last week’s divisional-round game. The Seahawks are going to aim Marshawn Lynch at the heart of the 49ers defense and hope he can move the pile all game long. But Seattle needs more than last week’s 103 yards passing and nine completions from quarterback Russell Wilson, and at some point in Sunday’s fourth quarter he’s going to have to produce the same kind of difference-making pass he completed to receiver Doug Baldwin to seal the win against New Orleans. When the moment arises, Wilson and Seattle will find a way to get it done. Seahawks 24, 49ers 23
Four of six pick 49ers.
Matt Venzel: I love Seattle’s defense and their poised young quarterback. The 49ers are the NFL’s hottest team, though, and will muscle their way to the Super Bowl. 49ers 23, Seahawks 19
Mark Ross: So what should one expect in this clash of NFC titans? Once again, the defenses will more than likely dictate the proceedings, but this is not the same 49ers offense that the Seahawks manhandled back in Week 2. Yards and points will be tough to come by for either unit, but in the end I think Colin Kaepernick is a little more productive than Russell Wilson because he has better weapons in the passing game.
Marshawn Lynch does his best to carry Seattle to the Super Bowl, but Wilson’s late-season struggles finally catch up to him and the offense. Harbaugh’s playoff-savvy squad controls the second half, propelling the 49ers back to the Super Bowl. San Francisco 20, Seattle 17
Tarik El-Bashir: I could not disagree with you more, Rich. There are two reasons the Seahawks are 8-1 at CenturyLink Field this season: They’re good and the ear-splitting 12th man advantage. Did you see the effect crowd noise had on Drew Brees a week ago? Brees, one of the calmest and coolest quarterbacks in the game, was flustered by it, couldn’t get plays called quickly enough and was forced to call timeout—twice—in the fourth quarter to avoid penalties. Do you think Colin Kaepernick will do a better job in such a stressful environment? Yeah, me neither. Look, the 49ers are loaded on both sides of the ball and they are battle-tested. I’ll give you that. But the combination of Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman-led secondary and the 12th man will ultimately prove to be too much for Kaepernick the Niners. Seahawks 24, 49ers 17
Barbara Bruno: Anquan Boldin finally gets flagged for taunting, Kapernick wastes at least one timeout and throws a pick. Marshawn Lynch racks up 120 yards and Zach Miller has one big catch. Russell Wilson burns the 49er D three times. Seattle by one.
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