49ers

49ers key matchup No. 1: Kaepernick vs. Wilson

49ers_seahawks_kaepernick_wilson_split.jpg

49ers key matchup No. 1: Kaepernick vs. Wilson

Editor's note: This is the final part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Seahawks matchups to watch Sunday, 5:20 p.m. (NBC-TV), at CenturyLink Field, Seattle

[RELATED: 49ers key matchup No. 2: Jean Francois vs. McQuistan]

[RELATED: 49ers key matchup No. 3: Crabtree vs. Sherman]

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Seattle QB Russell Wilson

Tale of the tape
Kaepernick (7): 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, second season, Nevada
Wilson (3): 5-foot-11, 206 pounds, rookie, Wisconsin

The 49ers saw Russell Wilson at his worst earlier this season. The Seattle Seahawks have yet to see Colin Kaepernick.

The two dual-threat quarterbacks will meet for the first time Sunday night when the 49ers and Seahawks meet in an NFC West matchup that could be a preview of a playoff meeting next month. And it could be the first of many meetings with Kaepernick and Wilson running their respective offenses over the coming seasons.

But Kaepernick's mind is not on the future. It's on tonight's game.

"He'll be my adversary Sunday night," Kaepernick said. "That's what we're worried about."

The 49ers are 4-1 since Kaepernick stepped into the lineup to replace Alex Smith, who sustained a concussion and was demoted once he got healthy. Kaepernick is completing 65.6 percent of his pass attempts with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. His passer rating is 101.3. Kaepernick is also the 49ers' second-leading rusher with 379 yards and five touchdowns.

Kaepernick has already gotten the better of his road meetings against New Orleans' Drew Brees and New England's Tom Brady. Kaepernick was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his four-touchdown performance last week in a 41-34 victory over the Patriots.

Meanwhile, Wilson has come on strong in his rookie season. The third-round draft pick has thrown 21 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a 95.5 passer rating. He has rushed for 409 yards, as the Seahawks have incorporated more quarterback runs into the offense since their Oct. 18 meeting at Candlestick Park.

Wilson completed just 9 of 23 passes for 122 yards and an interception in the 49ers' 13-6 victory earlier this season. Wilson had three rushing attempts for 10 yards in that game.

"The biggest difference they're doing since we last played them is they've installed the gun-read game into their offense and they're doing it a lot," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. "They had shown it very sparingly prior to the last game. Now they're doing it a lot.

"And the quarterback's just gotten better and better, as you'd expect a rookie quarterback to do. He's no longer a rookie. This is his 15th pro start. So, he's really a good quarterback. He's very elusive, he's fast, got good command of their offense, throws the deep stuff well and he's been a great acquisition for them."

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

joe-staley-us.jpg
USATSI

49ers veteran expected to play in Pro Bowl thanks to Eagles

UPDATED: The 49ers announced Monday morning that Joe Staley has accepted a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team. He will replace Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith.

* * * 

Veteran 49ers left tackle Joe Staley is expected to benefit from the Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the Super Bowl.

Staley, originally chosen as an alternate, is expected to be named to his sixth Pro Bowl to take the place of Eagles Pro Bowl tackle Lane Johnson.

The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday, Jan. 28, in Orlando, Florida. Members of the Super Bowl participant Eagles and New England Patriots will not play in the all-star game. The Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 38-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

The other Pro Bowl offensive tackles representing the NFC are Dallas’ Tyron Smith and Los Angeles’ Andrew Whitworth, who replaced Washington’s Trent Williams.

Staley got off to a rough start last season as the 49ers opened on a nine-game losing streak. The idea of his career coming to an end began to creep into his mind, he said recently on the 49ers Insider Podcast.

But Staley said he had a talk with coach Kyle Shanahan that got him refocused for the remainder of the season. The 49ers finished with a five-game win streak to finish with a 6-10 record, and Staley played well down the stretch.

“I’m so far gone from where I was in that moment early in the year that I’m just focused on next year and, hopefully, years after that,” said Staley, 33, an 11-year NFL veteran. “I feel like I can still play.

“I think this last half of the season I played some of the best football of my career. I feel very confident in what we’re doing schematically with the people surrounding us, and it shows in my own play.”

Staley would join fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who was the only 49ers player named to the Pro Bowl when the teams were announced last month.

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

foles.jpg
USATSI

Foles frenzy: Eagles fly over Vikings to meet Patriots in Super Bowl LII

BOX SCORE

PHILADELPHIA -- Hey Philly, maybe it's time to forget Carson Wentz. Nick Foles might be good enough to win the Eagles their first Super Bowl.

Foles was on fire Sunday night against the stingiest scoring defense in the NFL. Philly made big play after big play on both sides of the ball in a stunning 38-7 rout of the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC championship.

Next up after their most-lopsided playoff victory: the Eagles' first Super Bowl appearance since 2005, against the team that beat them then, AFC champion New England.

Foles replaced the injured Wentz in Game 13 and finished off a rise from last place to first in the NFC East. There were plenty of doubters entering the playoffs, but the former starter in Philadelphia (15-3) under another regime has been brilliant.

His best work might have come against Minnesota (14-4) and its vaunted defense that was torn apart in every manner. Foles threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, showing poise, escapability and moxie in going 26 for 33.

In doing so - helped greatly by the Eagles' domination on defense and a spectacular weaving 50-yard interception return TD by Patrick Robinson - Foles ruined the Vikings' hopes of being the first team to play in a Super Bowl in its own stadium

Instead, the Eagles will seek their first Super Bowl crown in Minnesota on Feb. 4; their last championship came in 1960.

OVER AT HALFTIME: Minnesota made it look easy at the outset, driving 75 yards on nine plays, each of which gained yardage. The payoff was a 25-yard throw from Case Keenum to Kyle Rudolph well behind linebacker Najee Goode as Philadelphia's defense looked confused on the play.

That didn't happen again for Philly.

Defensive end Chris Long had a huge hand in Robinson's 50-yard interception return. Long burst in from the left side and got his arm on Keenum to disrupt the throw for Adam Thielen. The ball went directly to Robinson, who sped down the left side, then made a sharp cut to the right and got a superb block from Ronald Darby to reach the end zone.

Inspired, Philly's D forced a three-and-out, the Foles led the Eagles on a 12-play, 75-yard masterpiece of a drive. LeGarrette Blount showed all his power and escapability on an 11-yard surge up the middle for a 14-7 lead.

Turnovers, something Minnesota rarely committed with an NFC-low 14 during the season, hurt again and not only ended a solid drive, but set up more Philly points. On third down from the Eagles 15, Keenum was blindsided by rookie Derek Barnett, and the ball bounced directly to Long.

It was only the second strip-sack the Vikings have been victimized by all season.

A blown coverage - another rarity for Minnesota - on third-and-10 allowed Alshon Jeffery to get wide open for a 53-yard TD, and Philadelphia tacked on Elliott's 38-yard field goal to make it 24-3 at halftime.

DANCING IN THE LINC: Fifty seconds into the final quarter, with the score 38-7, Eagles players on the sideline and waiting to kick off on the field were dancing up a storm and fans were chanting "We want Brady."

They get Tom Brady and company in two weeks.

BACK TO THE BIG GAME: Long won the Super Bowl last year with the Patriots, as did Blount. Now they return on the other side.

QUICK DRIVE: Philadelphia got the ball with 29 seconds remaining in the first half at its 20. Foles hit passes of 11 yards to Jay Ajayi, 36 to Ertz and 13 to Ajayi before Elliott's field goal to end the half.

THIRD DOWNS: Minnesota was the league's best team defending third downs and was third in converting them. Yet Philadelphia went 10 for 14.

NEXT UP: Minnesota returns home to watch two other teams play at its stadium for the Lombardi Trophy.

With the entire stadium singing "Fly Eagles Fly" during the NFC trophy ceremony, Philadelphia can look forward to facing New England in Super Bowl 52 on Feb. 4