If you have watched the Seattle Seahawks before, Sunday should have felt like déjà vu: Russell Wilson looking poised at all times and having at least one pin-point accurate throw for a touchdown; Marshawn Lynch breaking 100 yards and making you say "wow" at least once in the process; The secondary looking stellar and having at least one interception; And of course, Richard Sherman yapping at the end of it all.
Yup, that pretty much sums up what the Seahawks are all about, and in their 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, they could check every one of those off of the list.
Wilson's touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty, Lynch's 40-yard touchdown run in the third quarter most definitely made you say "wow," the Legion of Boom collected two interceptions off of Colin Kaepernick, and Sherman made clear who the best cornerback in his eyes is to Erin Andrews and the rest of the nation.
Seattle will travel to New York to play the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, which should be one of the most entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. But we have two weeks to talk about the Seahawks and the Broncos. Right now, we need to talk about the 49ers.
San Francisco has now lost in the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship in back-to-back seasons. Not making the playoffs year after year (Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills, I am looking at you) must be tough for fans to take, but ending your season on one game when you are so close to winning it all has to be more painful.
And with pain comes blame. That process always starts at two places: the head coach and the quarterback. Jim Harbaugh has proved that he is arguably one of the best head coaches in the league by transforming a joke of a team into a Super Bowl contender. Their quarterback, on the other hand, might need to be examined under a little more scrutiny.
Kaepernick took over the reins last season and excelled from the start. He brought the team to the Super Bowl in his first season as a starter and, although he lost, he was still praised for how far he went in his first season. As time goes on, though, patience thins, and the fact that Kaepernick did not improve much from his first season will not help his case heading into next season.
In the loss against the Seahawks, he threw two costly interceptions and also lost a fumble — three turnovers in the biggest game of the season. That can't happen. Only throwing for 153 yards and a touchdown is not good enough to win the NFC Championship, despite rushing for an impressive 130 yards.
The funny thing is that Kaepernick normally does a great job of taking care of the ball. In the regular season, he only threw eight interceptions and lost four fumbles.
However, six of his eight interceptions came in those four losses this season, which proves an obvious, yet useful point: When Kaepernick turns the ball over, the 49ers are not a very good team. If San Francisco ever wants to get over the hump, they need Kaepernick to play at his best during big games.
He has shown inconsistencies all season, which made it hard to get behind him leading this team to the Super Bowl at the start of the playoffs. In the team's four losses, his Total QBR was 14.0 (at Seattle), 11.8 (vs. Indianapolis), 7.7 (vs. Carolina), and 46.0 (at New Orleans). Even in their win at home earlier this season against Seattle, he posted a 41.5 QBR.
But in their wins, he's absolutely fantastic. He had six games in which he posted a QBR greater than 80, including two games — at Tennessee and at Jacksonville — in which he had a QBR of at least 99.
So until he becomes more consistent in his decision-making, the questions will remain: Which Colin Kaepernick is going to show up? Is Kaepernick the issue behind San Francisco's inefficiencies at winning the big one?
At this point, he might be a part of it, but he is also the solution to many other problems they have. These next couple seasons will be monumental for his future in the league. Right now, these questions might just stay in the back of everyone's mind. But if the 49ers lose deep in the playoffs yet again because of a poor Kaepernick performance, these questions will be asked.
In my preview for this game, I talked about what kind of impact the results would have for each quarterback's legacy. While this won't be a shining moment in the growing legacy of Colin Kaepernick, he's still young, and he always has next season to prove himself and perform at his best with the spotlight on.
For now, though, San Francisco fans shouldn't be too upset. They have a talented quarterback with incredible potential, and they were able to cheer for their team deep into the new year two seasons in a row. Things could always be worse.
This post was sponsored by Kia