By Brent Stecker
With the Seahawks set to play the San Francisco 49ers for the third time this season in Sunday's NFC Championship game, the division rivals are plenty familiar with each other.
That especially extends to Seattle's defensive line and the 49ers agile quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, as Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril told 710 ESPN Seattle's "The Huddle" this week.
Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) had a hand in holding down 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a Sept. 15 game, as he forced a fumble on his one sack in the 29-3 victory. (AP)
"They know what we do, and we know what they do, and it's gonna be all about the team that doesn't make any mistakes," Avril said. "(Kaepernick) is a heck of a quarterback. He can hurt you with his feet. For us as pass rushers, you gotta adapt a little bit. You gotta change the way you rush. You gotta be able to have vision on the quarterback at all times while you're rushing."
Kaepernick, who threw for 3,197 yards and rushed for 524 more during the regular season, has a much different style of play than what the Seahawks saw against New Orleans and Drew Brees in their 23-15 playoff win last week.
"Somebody like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, those guys aren't as mobile, so you know once you beat your guy he'll be in the pocket," Avril said. "You can rush too high and cut back in and you know he's gonna be there. But with somebody like Kaepernick, you can't rush too high because he'll step into those lanes and take off running. You just gotta adjust a little bit and go after him."
The Seahawks were able to hold down Kaepernick the first time the teams played this season, because even though he rushed for 87 yards, he managed only 127 yards passing and was picked off three times in the Sept. 15 contest at CenturyLink Field. Avril was a big part of making Kaepernick uncomfortable, as he had a strip sack that led to a Seattle field goal in the second quarter.
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Kaepernick fared much better when Seattle visited the 49ers on Dec. 8, throwing 15 for 29 for 175 yards and a score in a 19-17 San Francisco win.
The 49ers' physical offensive line is a big reason for Kaepernick's success, though Avril said he and the rest of the Seahawks defensive line are prepared for what they do.
"They're pretty good. You can't take anything away from them. But we feel like on the D-line, we're pretty physical too," he said. "It's just gonna be a lot of big hits in the middle. They're a good O-line, and we're ready for them."
The San Francisco line will also be looking to make holes for wrecking ball running back Frank Gore (1,128 rushing yards, nine touchdowns during the regular season), who is the biggest reason teams can't put too much emphasis on shutting down Kaepernick.
"It's all about being disciplined the whole game, all four quarters. Not trying to do too much, meaning jumping out of your gap when you feel like you can make the play, because Gore's pretty good with cutting it back and things like that," Avril said. "(We) just gotta be sound in our philosophy."