The Seattle Seahawks are gearing up to take on the San Francisco 49ers next Saturday, and it is really difficult to not get overly excited about what has turned out to be one of the most surprising, unlikely, unusual seasons in franchise history. In the days ahead, many fans and analysts will throw some cold water on this team by pointing out that the Niners not only beat them during the regular season, but that they did so handily on two separate occasions. This take isn’t without merit, of course.
This is not a commentary on the Seahawks' chances of beating the 49ers but on a silly saying you're bound to hear this week, that "it's hard to beat a team three times in a season." That's only true when it's 0-0. A lot easier when one team is up 2-0 and only has to win one game.— Brady Henderson (@BradyHenderson) January 9, 2023
But what this doesn’t account for is the fact that the Seattle Seahawks have never lost to the 49ers in the postseason. This isn’t just a Pete Carroll thing, either. Well, it kind of is... because he is the only Seattle coach to ever face the Niners in the playoffs, and he did so exactly one time. You might recall that game, because it went a little something like this:
"The Tip" by Richard Sherman is one of the best Seahawks moments in history. What a perfect play on the ball.— Sports ON Tap Seattle (@SONTSeattle) December 9, 2022
NEVER get tired of seeing this moment. Goosebumps. pic.twitter.com/E3q5yPeABR
I understand that history doesn’t always predict the future, especially when we are comparing to a 2013 team that won the Super Bowl and is considered to be among the greatest rosters to ever do so, even getting ranked the best team of the last decade in 2019 by Tom Blair. I don’t think that anybody is going to mistake this 2022-23 team for the 2013 squad. In fact, it feels much closer to the 2010 team that squeaked in to the postseason with a Week 17 victory over rookie 1st overall pick Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams. In a game that Charlie Whitehurst started... which accounts for one of his two total victories as an NFL starter, according to StatHead.
Just like that team, this iteration of the Seahawks has to take on a heavily favored team in the playoffs. Unlike that team, though, they won’t have the joy of playing in front of the home crowd... but that has seemingly become less of an advantage in recent seasons anyway. They also won’t be facing an established veteran quarterback like Drew Brees. Sure, rookie QB Brock Purdy has become Mr. Relevant with his sterling perfect record since taking over as starter. But rookie QBs can be volatile, and they don’t have a track record of success in the postseason.
Brock Purdy is a rookie. The last time a rookie quarterback won a playoff game was... 2013. Russell Wilson. The team they beat? Led by rookie RGIII. pic.twitter.com/OFfUjK7k79— Stan "the Soy Boy" Taylor ️⚧️ (@GoodGuyAtSports) January 9, 2023
Again, history doesn’t literally predict the future in this case, as Purdy could obviously join Russell Wilson and T.J. Yates in victory, and all signs point to a likely 49ers win. But narratives aren’t entirely powerless in the NFL; there are reasons that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks managed to sweep Kyle Shanahan’s squad two consecutive years (2020, 2021), and had never lost to them twice in a season prior to 2022. The primary reason is that they outplayed the competition, of course; but the prospect of going up against a team that has repeatedly given you problems in the past can be a challenging mental hurdle for players and coaches. Take the Rams, for example, and that awful 2020 playoff game. I am not drawing a direct parallel between that LA team and this Seattle one, but simply pointing to the fact that many of us felt uneasy the moment we saw that match-up on paper. The 49ers are probably more confident than that Seahawks squad, since they are riding a winning streak into the postseason. But history is not on their side, and Seattle will need to capitalize on this with their defense that has allowed 16.8 points per game over the last four weeks. Can they do it? Who knows, but we do know that this team refuses to go quietly into the offseason.