Behind Enemy Lines: can Kaepernick handle the noise?


Every Friday I drop behind enemy lines to bring you the scoop on the Seahawks’ next opponent.

This week was by far my most dangerous assignment. In preparation for the great NFC Championship battle to come, San Francisco is on heavy lockdown. I had to rely on my extensive network of underworld contacts to be whisked into Oakland in a body bag along with a massive shipment of bootlegged Methadone. After escaping the warehouse I waited until dark to scale the underside of the Golden Gate bridge, which was guarded by enormous body builder trannies draped in glittering gold and red armor, ready to throw a high heeled shoe at a moment’s notice at any wayward 12th man venturing into their demented kingdom.

Actually I just e-mailed a guy, and it was relatively painless. This week I chatted with Scott Adams, the managing editor of cover32’s 49ers site. I asked how Colin Kaepernick can adjust to the noise at the Clink and more.

TW:  The 49ers have won eight games in a row coming in to the NFC Championship. What would you say has been the single biggest factor during that run?

SA: I’m trying not to be too long-winded, but really it comes down to two things: Michael Crabtree’s return and the 49ers pass rush. The 49ers have not lost since Crabtree returned seven games ago. He is averaging 56.8 yards per game and 14.9 yards per catch with a touchdown. His biggest impact though comes with just being on the field. That’s done wonders for Anquan Boldin, who has gone for 90 receiving yards or more in four games, including last week’s 136-yard performance against Carolina.

The 49ers pass rush has been massive during these past eight games but especially during the playoffs. The 49ers had four sacks in three playoff games last year. Through two games this postseason, they have nine.

TW: Colin Kaepernick struggled mightily with the crowd in his two previous visits to the Clink. He also had some trouble in the Green Bay game getting the plays called in time. What can he and the team do to improve on that?

SA: The first thing he needs to do is make sure he has a play sheet in his wrist band — that cost the 49ers a timeout at Green Bay!

In all seriousness, what he needs most is a PERFECT week of practice. Because once the game starts, all he will have to rely on is preparation. The 49ers aren’t going to be able to adjust on the fly, and I’m sure they’re spending ample time coming up with a way to compensate for the 12th Man this week. Kaepernick has to stay calm Sunday and not force throws, something he didn’t do in Week 2. Taking a 5-yard delay of game penalty isn’t the end of the world. Turnovers are, especially in Seattle.

TW: If Percy Harvin is able to play on Sunday who would draw the assignment to cover him, and what saints does he like to pray too?

SA: Carlos Rogers was limited in practice this week, but even if he does play, the 49ers still might go with the hot hand in Perrish Cox. He has come up big these last two games, especially against a dangerous Packers receivers corps in the Wild-Card round.

St. Christopher of course. Cox could use his blessing.

TW: A lot has been made of Michael Crabtree’s return having a positive impact on Kaepernick’s numbers. Aside from Crabtree, who does Kaepernick need to look for on long third downs? (Richard Sherman doesn’t count.)

SA: The quick answer is Vernon Davis, who’s a matchup nightmare and a magnet for pass-interference calls against undersized safeties. With Sherman likely covering, or trying to cover Crabtree, he might want to give Boldin a look. He’s been huge in the playoffs his whole career.

TW: Prediction time. Who comes out on top and why?

SA: The 49ers will play their best game yet at CenturyLink Field, but their red zone woes will come back to haunt them in a 23-16 loss.

This 12th man got the gutsiest (or craziest) Seahawks tattoo ever.

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