San Francisco 49ers: 2014 Quick Takes NFC

Quick Take: 49ers at Seahawks

January, 12, 2014
Three things to know about next Sunday's San Francisco 49ers-Seattle Seahawks NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field:

1. Inevitable meeting: The matchup has been brewing since the offseason. This is one of the most heated rivalries in the NFL. The players have gotten chippy. The coaches have gotten chippy. The teams have poached each other’s rosters. It only makes sense that a Super Bowl berth comes down to these two NFC West adversaries.

2. The quarterbacks: San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson are two of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in the NFL. They have similar games and are great leaders for their teams. This game likely will come down to which quarterback makes the most plays with his arm and legs. Kaepernick has been to this stage before; Wilson hasn’t. Will Kaepernick's championship game experience give him the edge?

3. Can 49ers figure out how to win at Seattle? The 49ers were hammered in Seattle 29-3 in Week 2 and have been outscored 71-16 in their past two games at CenturyLink Field. The 49ers were greatly affected by the infamous noise level in those two games. Sunday, after beating the Panthers, several 49ers said the key will be to play as perfect as possible to take the crowd out of the game.

Quick Take: 49ers at Panthers

January, 5, 2014
Three things to know about the San Francisco 49ers' matchup at the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional round at 1:05 p.m. ET Sunday:

1. Rematch: All Colin Kaepernick said about the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night, after the 49ers secured their trip there with a 23-20 win at Green Bay was “we owe them.” The Panthers beat the 49ers in San Francisco, 10-9, on Nov. 10. It was one of the NFL’s most physical games of the season. Both offenses struggled as both teams played brilliant defense. Expect another low-scoring game, although the point total likely will exceed 19 this time around.

2. Young quarterback battle: This will be a terrific national spotlight game for two of the better young quarterbacks in the league, Kaepernick and Carolina's Cam Newton. One of these two quarterbacks is heading to the NFC Championship Game. Newton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft. Kaepernick, who already has been to one Super Bowl, was taken in the second round.

3. Great linebacking play: The first meeting was highlighted by stellar defensive play, particularly by the inside linebackers. San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis and Carolina’s Luke Kuechly are among the game’s best middle linebackers. Bowman and Kuechly are legitimate NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidates. Expect this matchup to be run through these guys once again.

Quick Take: 49ers at Packers

December, 29, 2013
Three things to know about the San Francisco 49ers' matchup against the Green Bay Packers in an NFC wild-card game at 4:40 p.m. ET Sunday at Lambeau Field:

1. Two teams no one wants to play. This rematch of the 49ers’ Week 1 home victory is easily the most intriguing matchup of the first weekend. The 49ers are the NFL’s hottest team. They have the longest active win streak in the league at six games and have won 11 of their past 13 games. This is a 12-4 juggernaut. However, the Packers are dangerous. A healthy Aaron Rodgers makes them a contender, and winning at Lambeau Field in the playoffs is never easy for the road team.

2. Will the read-option live? This should be an interesting cat-and-mouse game. Last year in the divisional round in San Francisco, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick ran all over the Packers using the read-option. It was a huge storyline heading into Week 1 -- and then the 49ers barely used it as Kaepernick threw for a season-high 412 yards, including hitting Anquan Boldin 13 times. They used it sparingly the rest of the season, but they do break it out now and again. Will it happen again at Green Bay? I can see it being used, at least a bit. The Packers will definitely be on their toes.

3. Check the weather. It is expected to be cold with a chance of snow next weekend in Green Bay. Of course, it is Green Bay in January. The 49ers are a physical, grinding team. They fancy themselves as a cold-weather team. It shouldn’t be a big problem, but the weather is always an advantage for the Packers.