Jan/14/14 07:45 AM Filed in: Frank Gore
It didn't take long for 49ers running back Frank Gore to gaze beyond Sunday's divisional-round playoff win toward San Francisco's next opponent.
"We have to go to Seattle," he said, per CSN Bay Area. "We know it's going to be a dog fight. But we are built for this."
Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin sounds equally primed, tweeting Sunday night: "Wouldn't want it any other way."
Niners coach Jim Harbaugh is the first coach in the Super Bowl era to take his team to the conference championship game in each of his first three seasons, doing it this time with a nasty, well-coached defense that shut out the Panthers for the entire second half Sunday.
That defense now faces a Seahawks attack of which Seattle coach Pete Carroll praised Saturday for its balance.
Right now, I disagree. If anything concerns me about the Seahawks, it's their passing game. While their ground attack shined for 174 yards Saturday, Russell Wilson's 103 yards through the air marked the lowest passing total in a playoff win since Mark Sanchez threw for 100 in a Jets divisional-round game in 2009.
Fierce gusts of wind at CenturyLink Field were the "worst factor," said Wilson, but Drew Brees found a way to puncture Seattle's historically epic pass defense for 309 yards and a touchdown strike.
Wilson isn't being asked to save his team through the air the way Brees or Andrew Luck were asked to this weekend, but San Francisco, after holding the Panthers to 93 yards -- Carolina's second-lowest total on the ground all year -- is going to put pressure on Wilson to make plays.
I can't wait to see how this young quarterback responds. Seattle's air attack has been off for weeks, with Wilson throwing for 74 fewer yards per outing over his past five starts. During that stretch, the Seahawks are scoring 8.3 fewer points per game and churning out 98.5 fewer yards.
Seattle's ground game capably picked up the slack against New Orleans, but that won't be a given next week against San Francisco's fourth-ranked run defense.
No team's a tougher out at home than the Seahawks, but the 49ers are the conference's hottest property right now. Gore's right, a dog fight looms.