They would do well to forget what happened in Week 2, a 29-3 loss in which San Francisco seemed to do everything wrong. Kyle Williams — who is no longer with the team — was the leading receiver for the 49ers in that game, with just 39 yards and Frank Gore rushed for 16 yards on nine carries.
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said he didn’t see that as relevant, however.
“We’re spending time getting ready for this game and preparing to play our very best,” he said. “And that’s what it’s going to take. ... So, we’re spending more time thinking about that, answering those questions than going back six months or 12 months or 13 months.”
What about the talk of Seattle’s 12th Man, the overwhelming crowd support so loud that it can get hard for opposing quarterbacks to communicate with teammates?
“We only have 11 on the field,” 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick said. “Just like them.”
It’s nearly impossible to measure the mental impact of past failures at CenturyLink Field, or the degree to which the noise will affect the 49ers’ offense.
What can be measured, however is the impact of Michael Crabtree on the team. The wide receiver was still recovering from a torn Achilles during the team’s first game of the year, and when they played again on Dec. 8 at Candlestick Park, San Francisco was able to grind out a 19-17 win.
Crabtree’s ability to stretch out an excellent Seattle secondary — led by cornerback Richard Sherman — should help open things up for himself, as well as fellow wideout Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis.
While the 49ers’ success will depend on the passing game, stopping the Seahawks’ attack will depend greatly on shutting down running back Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch torched the New Orleans Saints for 140 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Seattle’s 23-15 victory in the divisional round.
San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, who will need to play a big role in keeping Lynch contained, said he sees similarities between the way he and Lynch both approach the game, highlighted by the revelation by Lynch’s grandfather saying the running back laughs when carrying the ball.
“People sometimes look at me and they always ask why I’m smiling,” Willis said. “You smile when you’re having fun, you smile when you know the next man is in trouble. And maybe that’s what he has in his mind when he’s running the ball. But I kind of have that a little bit about me, when I’m tackling, when I’m out there playing. I like to smile a little bit, too. Let you know you aren’t worried.”
Getting Lynch in trouble more than Willis finds trouble himself will put pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who has thrown for more than 200 yards only once in his past five games.
With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, it’s safe to say the past doesn’t matter. Harbaugh has his squad looking toward the future.