SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The San Francisco 49ers are hoping to make it a clean sweep this season against the Seattle Seahawks
The Niners are heavy favorites for Saturday’s playoff game against the Hawks. Las Vegas expects the Niners to win by more than nine points.
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan knows the challenges of trying to beat an opponent three times in a season after falling short a year ago in the playoffs against the Los Angeles Rams.
The 49ers open this postseason with a similar challenge when they host NFC West rival Seattle in a wild-card playoff game Saturday less than a month after beating the Seahawks for the second time this season.
“I don’t really look at it as you have to beat someone three times. I just look at it as we have to beat them on Saturday,” Shanahan said. “That’s the game, I don’t think the other games have to do with it.”
The Niners (13-4) are seeking a better result against the Seahawks (9-8) than they had last year against the Rams, when they blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and lost 20-17 to Los Angeles in the NFC title game.
“Once you know each other that well, usually the game becomes simpler,” Shanahan said. “You don’t trick each other after that and usually teams are playing at a higher level by that third time.”
That game last year was decided on a few key plays down the stretch, like a potential dropped interception by San Francisco, a failed short-yardage conversion and then an interception by Jimmy Garoppolo on the final drive with the Niners attempting a comeback.
The Niners have had the advantage so far this year against the Seahawks, winning 27-7 at home in Week 2 and then going to Seattle for a 21-13 victory Dec. 15 in rookie quarterback Brock Purdy’s first road start.
The constant has been the defense led by edge rusher Nick Bosa and linebacker Fred Warner that limited Seattle to one TD drive on 20 offensive possessions.
“For the most part we were just behind the sticks a lot,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “We were behind the chains and we were in second-and-longs and third-and-longs and that’s not a recipe for winning football for us.”
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The Seahawks have had good success over the years against the Niners with Shanahan in charge, winning eight of the 12 games. But San Francisco took the most important one so far in a Week 17 showdown in 2019 that decided the NFC West title.
“Sometimes they get us and sometimes we get them,” coach Pete Carroll said. “I say that about the chess match thing because I have so much respect for what Kyle does, their whole style of play and all that they have developed over the years. It’s going to be a good challenge.”
The Hawks weren’t even expected to be here after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, but here they are.
Brock Purdy will make history as the lowest drafted rookie quarterback to start a playoff game.
The two teams will have a common opponent: The weather, as there is expected to be a 100 percent chance of rain and strong winds during the game.
The big question is: Are the Seahawks better prepared to play through the rain than the 49ers?
“I think we’re peaking right at the right time and it’s all about how we prepare,” Hall of Fame-bound 49er linebacker Fred Warner told KRON4. “And cutting that thing lose on Saturday.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.