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Week 16: Seahawks vs. 49ers

When: Sunday, 5:20 p.m., CenturyLink Field

Records: 49ers 10-3-1 and first in the NFC West after last week’s 41-34 victory over the Patriots in New England; Seahawks 9-5 and second in the NFC West after last week’s 50-17 victory over the Bills in Toronto

What’s at stake: The 49ers will clinch the division with a victory; the Seahawks will clinch a playoff spot with a victory

TV: NBC (KING/5 in the greater Seattle area), with Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya

Radio: 710 AM ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, with Steve Raible, Warren Moon and Jen Mueller

Rest of the West: Rams (6-7-1) at Buccaneers; Bears at Cardinals (5-9)

Frank Gore

Matchup microscope

The Seahawks defense vs. 49ers RB Frank Gore: There are so many angles to this game that this one has almost been overlooked. But how Gore goes has been a pretty good barometer on how the games between the Seahawks and 49ers have gone since he entered the league in 2005. His two top rushing performances have come against the Seahawks – 212 yards in 2006 and 207 in 2009; as well as his longest touchdown runs – 80 yards in that ’09 game. In fact, the 49ers are 4-0 against the Seahawks when Gore runs for more than 100 yards, and 3-6 in games when he rushes for fewer than 100 yards. In the Week 7 game in San Francisco this season, the 49ers used trap plays in the second half to get Gore free for 92 of his 131 yards. So containing him will be a big step toward stopping the 49ers.

One to watch

Seahawks P Jon Ryan vs. 49ers P Andy Lee: Field position should be at a premium, and these two are capable of altering it with one swing of their right legs. Lee was the NFC Pro Bowl punter last season and this season he is fifth in the NFL in average (48.1), second in net average (43.2) and third in punts inside the 20-yard line (34). And only one of his 60 punts has gone out of bounds. Ryan is overdue for some Pro Bowl recognition. He already owns most of the franchise records and this season he’s fifth in the league in net average (46.4) and tied for fifth in punts inside the 20 (28).

Fun to watch

The 49ers defense vs. the Seahawks zone-read running plays: The Seahawks’ offense that will be on the field Sunday night is not the same Seahawks offense that the 49ers held to 251 yards and a pair of field goals in Week 7. The Seahawks are averaging 243 rushing yards during their three-game winning streak and scored eight rushing touchdowns while hanging 58 points on the Cardinals two weeks ago and 50 on the Bills last week. One of the biggest reasons is the zone-read, where QB Russell Wilson either hands the ball to Marshawn Lynch or keeps it and tries to exploit the lanes created by the opposition’s preoccupation with the league’s second-leading rusher. In the past two games, Lynch has run for 241 yards and four touchdowns on only 21 carries. Wilson ran for 92 yards and three TDs last week.

One tough task

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. his first start at CenturyLink Field: Kaepernick has shoved the 49ers’ offense into another gear since taking over for Alex Smith five games ago. He is averaging 7.2 yards as a runner and also passed for seven touchdowns. He beat the Saints at the Superdome and the Patriots in New England. Now comes the noise factory that is the Seahawks’ home field. The 12th Man will be in full roar for this one, and it will be up to Kaepernick to handle the chaotic environment in only his sixth NFL start.

Worth noting

The 49ers are 5-0 in primetime games this season, including their Week 7 win over the Seahawks on a Thursday night. … The Seahawks are 6-0 at CenturyLink Field, joining the Falcons (7-0) as the only teams in the league that remain unbeaten at home. … The 49ers have allowed a league-low 218 points – one fewer than the Seahawks. … The 49ers rank second in the league in rushing offense, while the Seahawks are No. 3. … The 49ers rank second in the league in total defense, while the Seahawks are third. … The Seahawks rank No. 3 in the league is passing defense, while the 49ers are No. 5. … The Seahawks entered their Week 7 game against the 49ers allowing an average of 70.0 rushing yards, but have allowed an average of 133.5 in the past eight games. … The 49ers have allowed 113 points in the fourth quarter, while the Seahawks have scored 85 in that quarter. … The 49ers’ Aldon Smith shares the NFL lead with 19.5 sacks, while the Seahawks’ Chris Clemons is tied for second in the NFC with a career-high 11.5. … Rookie middle linebacker Bobby Wagner leads the Seahawks with 121 tackles, while the 49ers are led by linebackers NaVorro Bowman (161) and Patrick Willis (154).


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