No edge in NFC championship game

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 18, 2014 at 2:11 am •  Published: January 18, 2014
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SEATTLE (AP) — For all the noise about, well, the noise, neither the 49ers nor Seahawks have a distinct advantage for Sunday's NFC championship game.

Sure, Seattle is a difficult place to play, with the 12th Man at CenturyLink Field challenging the sound barrier with their cheering. But San Francisco is a strong road team, going 6-2 as part of a 12-4 regular season, and 2-0 in these playoffs.

Certainly the Seahawks (13-4) have a superb defense, the best in the land, ranked first in points allowed, overall yards allowed and yards passing. Guess what: The 49ers are no slouches in that area, third in points surrendered and fifth in total defense.

Each side excels at forcing turnovers.

The Niners have a dynamic young quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, whose ability to escape pressure and ground speed epitomizes the new wave at the position. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson, who is as difficult to trap in the pocket and as creative outside it as anyone in the NFL.

Seattle's Marshawn Lynch is among the most powerful and relentless running backs in the game. So is San Francisco's Frank Gore.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh knows all about winning, whether on the college level when he was at Stanford, or in the pros. In his three seasons guiding the 49ers, they have gone to three NFC title games, winning it last year.

Harbaugh doesn't have much on Carroll, who also has overseen a turnaround of a franchise after an even more successful college stint at Southern California that includes two national championships.

And so on ...

"They're such a consistent football team across the board that they have many strengths," Carroll said of the 49ers, against whom he is 2-4 since taking over the Seahawks. But two of those victories were in the past two home meetings with San Francisco.

"That's why they've been so successful for the last few years. They have just found this really wonderful core group of guys and they've put them in good positions, they have a good fundamental approach, so there are no weaknesses. You just have to just wear on them and play on them and hope that you can find you edges on game day, and it's been very difficult for teams in the last three years since coach Harbaugh has been there."

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