Up next: San Francisco 49ers

Posted Dec 3, 2013

The Seahawks already have clinched a playoff spot, but it’s the NFC West title that is their primary goal. Sunday, they travel to San Francisco to face the second-place 49ers at Candlestick Park with a chance to wrap up the division.

A look at the San Francisco 49ers, the Seahawks’ Week 14 opponent:

When: Sunday, 1:25 p.m., Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Record: 8-4 and second in the NFC West after Sunday’s 23-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams

Where they rank: No. 28 on offense (7th rushing, 31st passing); No. 5 on defense (11th rushing, 3rd passing)

Playoff implications: The Seahawks will clinch the NFC West and a first-round bye with a win or a tie

TV: FOX (Q/13), with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Pam Oliver

Series: Seahawks lead 15-14 after their 29-3 victory in Week 2 at CenturyLink Field

Star power: Frank Gore? Justin Smith? Aldon Smith? Patrick Willis? NaVorro Bowman? Donte Whitner? Joe Staley? Mike Iupati? Pro Bowlers one and all on last year’s NFC Championship team. But let’s go with Colin Kaepernick, by a tattoo or two. The 49ers’ quarterback is adorned at Candlestick Park, even if he has down-and-up numbers from a year ago when he took over at midseason for Alex Smith, who’s now the QB in KC. Kaepernick is completing 58 percent of his passes (175 of 303), down from 62 percent last season. He has passed for 2,312 yards, after having 1,814 in 13 games last season. He has 15 touchdown passes and seven interceptions, after having 10 and three last season. He has been sacked 30 times, up from 16 last season. His passer rating is 88.9, down from 98.3 last season. He has rushed for 376 yards and three TDs, after producing 415 and five last season. Still, as FB Bruce Miller put it earlier this season, “You can’t characterize him. He’s not a runner. He’s not a sit-in-the-pocket passer. He’s his own monster.”

Unsung hero: Alex Boone. When Staley, the Pro Bowl left tackle, went out with a knee injury in the first quarter of Sunday’s game against the Rams, Boone slid over from right tackle. “Alex did a very good job right from the first play he moved out there,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He was blocking some really good players. He was good.” Rams DE Robert Quinn was one of them. Quinn entered the game with 13 sacks, including three against the Seahawks in Week 8. Quinn exited the game with 13 sacks. That’s how good Boone was.

On the spot: The offensive line. The 49ers could start two backups Sunday in the same game for the first time since 2008. Let that sink in for a moment, and consider that the Seahawks played for almost two months this season without their starting tackles and had three games where they started three backups. In addition to Staley, Pro Bowl left guard Iupati has missed the past two games and isn’t expected to play against the Seahawks because of a sprained knee. So they could have a starting unit of – from left tackle to right – Boone for Staley; Adam Snyder for Iupati; Jonathan Goodwin at center; Joe Looney at right guard for Boone; and Anthony Davis. Not ideal when the Seahawks’ defensive line is playing as well as it has the past two games.

Burning question: What’s up with Gore? Well, his rushing yards are down. Way down the past three games, when he has 121 yards – including 42 on 15 carries against the Rams. This is the same back who has Gore-d the Seahawks in the past. To the tune of 212 yards in 2006 and 207 yards in 2009, the top rushing performances in franchise history. The logic in the Bay Area is that Gore will find more running lanes with the return of WR Michael Crabtree, who caught two passes for 68 yards in his 2013 debut against the Rams after being sidelined with a torn Achilles.

Numbers to know: 6-0, 49ers’ record against teams with the losing record. … 2-4, 49ers’ record against teams with a winning record. … 101, points scored in the second quarter by the 49ers. … 27, third-down receptions by Anquan Boldin, which leads the league. … 48.7, Andy Lee’s punting average, which leads the NFC and is third in the NFL. … 42.9, Lee’s net average, which also is third in the league. … 109, tackles by Bowman to lead the team. … 71-16, combined score of the 49ers’ past two games against the Seahawks, both losses in Seattle, after they had won four in a row.

Familiar faces: Offensive line coach Mike Solari held the same position with the Seahawks (2008-09). Special team assistant Tracy Smith was with the Seahawks in 2011 and is the son of Seahawks QB coach Carl Smith. … National scout Matt Malaspina spent five years as a scout for the Seahawks before joining the 49ers in 2006.

The last word: “It’s going to be a really, really big game and we’re looking forward to it. We’re going to give them our best shot.” – 49ers safety Donte Whitner