When he's on the field, Percy Harvin is a difference maker. The problem for Harvin and Seattle this season is he hasn't been on the field very often and won't be on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. Harvin was ruled out on Friday after failing to receive medical clearance to return from a concussion.
Harvin being out is the latest in a season of injuries and setbacks. He appeared in one regular season game due to a hip injury, but avoided injured reserve and returned to the field for the Division round against New Orleans. He took a big hit early on and was sent to the locker room. Although he returned later in the game, he took another hit and was sidelined with a concussion. His status went day-by-day this week with Pete Carroll continually saying they would wait and see if Harvin gained clearance. He didn't and now the Seahawks will attempt to move forward without him.
Harvin may be the most talented player on the Seattle roster and if he isn't, he's near the top of the list. His absence is a significant setback for Seattle, no matter what the Seahawks were able to do without him. Seattle won 12 games without Harvin playing a single snap, including one against San Francisco. The Seahawks have proven they can win without him, but in a matchup as tight as the NFC Championship appears to be, the game could come down to a single play.
Now, Seattle will go back to doing what it did for most of the season without Harvin. Rely on Marshawn Lynch to lead the way on the ground while mixing in Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and the other receivers. Russell Wilson hasn't utilized his running ability much recently, but Stephen White said it's not because of a lack of opportunities. There have been times Wilson could have run, but didn't and he may need to take those opportunities this week, especially without Harvin. From White:
The one thing that has driven me crazy in recent weeks is Wilson's aversion to taking off with the ball and trying to get the first down or score a touchdown. We all know he can do it, since he's done it before as a pro. Wilson does take off, but he just doesn't do it enough.
I've said before, Seattle lacks a dynamic receiver who can get open one-on-one. That looked to change on Sunday with Percy Harvin's return. When he sustained a concussion (because Wilson got him killed twice), the quarterback's outlook should have changed. For the Seahawks to get touchdowns, Wilson needs to use his legs more often, whether it's to move the sticks or to stick it in the end zone on third-and-goal.
- Although Seattle will be without Harvin, linebacker K.J. Wright will return. Wright suffered a broken foot in the last meeting with the 49ers, but will return ahead of schedule. Carroll said Wright will have no limitations in the game. That doesn't necessarily mean he'll play a full game, but any contribution could be significant. Wright was playing his best football -- and maybe as well as anyone on the Seattle defense -- prior to the injury.
- Officially, Carlos Rogers is listed as questionable. Unofficially, he said he's playing. Rogers suffered a hamstring injury in Week 17 and missed San Francisco's first two playoff games. His return would bolster San Francisco's depth in the defensive back field. He could play a nickel role against Seattle with Tarell Brown and Tramaine Brock starting on the outside.
- While he praised his mobility and ability to throw down field, 49er legend Joe Montana said Colin Kaepernick must get better at throwing from the pocket when under pressure. Montana said Kaepernick sees pressure and decides to run too quickly and needs to be more accurate.
- Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase has been a sought-after coaching candidate this offseason, but thus far he's declined any interview requests. John Elway called the move "studly" and said he "couldn't be more proud" of Gase's decision to put off interviews until Denver's season is over.
OUT: WR Percy Harvin (concussion), QUESTIONABLE: DT Jordan Hill (groin), PROBABLE: RB Marshawn Lynch (not injury related), LB K.J. Wright (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Carlos Rogers (hamstring), RB Will Tukuafu (knee) PROBABLE: LB Navorro Bowman (wrist), LB Ahmad Brooks (illness), WR Michael Crabtree (wrist), DE Demarcus Dobbs (knee, shoulder), C Jonathan Goodwin (foot), RB Frank Gore (knee), LB Dan Skuta (foot), DT Justin Smith (shoulder)
OUT: LB Steve Beauharnais (illness) QUESTIONABLE: P Ryan Allen (shoulder), WR Aaron Dobson (foot), WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip, concussion) PROBABLE: WR Danny Amendola (groin), CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee, shoulder), LB Dane Fletcher (groin), LB Dont'a Hightower (ankle), G Logan Mankins (ankle), RB Shane Vereen (groin)
PROBABLE: S Mike Adams (thigh), TE Joel Dreessen (knee), S Duke Ihenacho (knee), T Winston Justice (finger), G Chris Kuper (ankle), QB Peyton Manning (ankle), WR Demaryius Thomas (calf), CB Kayvon Webster (thumb)
Number of interest: 7-0
Or Tom Brady's record against Jack Del Rio-coached defenses, according to the Denver Post. Del Rio, is of course, Denver's defensive coordinator. Two of Brady's wins against Del Rio defenses came in the playoffs. Brady didn't have just OK games either, he's been prolific against Del Rio. In the seven games, Brady threw for 1,771 yards, completed 73 percent of his passes, averaged 7.5 yards per attempt, tossed 17 touchdowns and did not throw a single interception. If Del Rio's defense doesn't have better success on Sunday, Denver might be in trouble.