NFL Nation: 2014 SFO-SEA Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Seattle Seahawks

January, 19, 2014

SEATTLE -- A few thoughts on the Seattle Seahawks' 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in the NFC Championship Game at Century Link Field:

What it means: The Seahawks (15-3) reach the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history and the first time since the 2005 season. Seattle will play the Denver Broncos in a matchup that many people expected before the season began.

Stock watch: The championship game was everything it was hyped up to be, big plays on both sides. Huge momentum swings, vicious hitting and close all the way to the end. The Seahawks came back from a 10-0 deficit in the first half.

Sherman/Smith save the day: The 49ers were driving for what could have been the winning touchdown in the final seconds when Richard Sherman batted away a pass in the end zone intended for Michael Crabtree that linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted to seal the victory. Sherman ran to shake Crabtree’s hand after the play and was whistled for taunting, not that it mattered.

Fourth-down glory: The Seahawks went for it on fourth-and-7 at the 49ers' 35 in the fourth quarter, Russell Wilson made a perfect deep throw and Jermaine Kearse made a spectacular catch in the end zone to give Seattle a 20-17 lead.

Baldwin comes up big: Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin had one of his best games of the season with six receptions for 106 yards. He also had a 69-yard kickoff return.

Lynch gets beastly: After a slow start, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch got it going in the second half, including a 40-yard TD run in the third quarter. He rushed for 109 yards on 22 carries.

What's next: The Seahawks will practice in Seattle this week before heading to New Jersey/New York next weekend to begin the week of festivities leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium.

SEATTLE -- A few observations from the 49ers' 23-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game:

What it means: The season is over. The 49ers saw their eight-game win streak end in an incredible game against their NFC West rival. The Seahawks will now try to do what the 49ers couldn’t last year -- win the Super Bowl.

The dagger: With the 49ers driving with a half-minute remaining, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick tried to hit Michael Crabtree in the corner of the end zone. The pass was short and cornerback Richard Sherman deflected it. Linebacker Malcolm Smith intercepted it. It was Kaepernick’s second interception of the quarter.

Costly game: The 49ers lost inside linebacker NaVorro Bowman, perhaps their best player, to a gruesome knee injury in the fourth quarter. There were no updates from the team. Left guard Mike Iupati went out in the first half with an ankle injury. It is not known how serious either injury is, but the worst-case scenario is that Bowman’s could affect him into training camp.

Stock watch: Kaepernick had another great game on the ground. He finished with 130 yards on 11 carries. He has two of the four 100-yard rushing performances by a quarterback in the playoffs.

Big plays given up: The San Francisco defense played strong for much of the game. But the difference was two big touchdowns. One was a 40-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch. The other, which gave the Seahawks the lead in the fourth quarter, was a 35-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse on fourth-and-7.

What’s next: The offseason. The 49ers are one of the NFL’s best teams (perhaps the best), but their season ends in Seattle.