49ers vs. Seahawks: Under-the-Radar Players Who Will Steal the Show

David Cattai@@DavidCattaiContributor IIIJanuary 17, 2014

Colin Kaepernick is a big-name player. But the 49er lineman running next to him will be of even greater importance on Sunday.
Colin Kaepernick is a big-name player. But the 49er lineman running next to him will be of even greater importance on Sunday.Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, the 12th Man. Everyone knows the big names that will make an impact during Sunday's NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.

However, there are four players, who for most of the season have flown under the radar, that will have an important impact on deciding which team represents the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII.


Glenn Dorsey, NT (San Francisco)

Defense wins championships. Cliche, no doubt. But when it comes to playing the Seahawks, the 49ers will need to stop the run, as Lynch is one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Dorsey, 28, has played in every game this season. He recorded 41 tackles, nothing flashy. But what he will do on Sunday is impact the run game. From the start of the contest, expect the 6'1", 297-pound nose tackle will neutralize the Seahawks line on running plays. Dorsey's impact up front will enable linebackers like Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and Ahmad Brooks to stop Lynch before he can get good yardage.

Dorsey recorded four tackles in the Niners' 23-10 win at Carolina last weekend. He was important in holding Cam Newton and the Panthers to 93 rushing yards.

Stopping the run will be important for the 49ers defense. Having Dorsey create havoc in the trenches will help get the job done.


Joe Staley, OL (San Francisco)

The opposite goes for the Niners front five on offense; the OL will be counted on to protect Kaepernick when he drops back to pass.

Staley, as do many offensive linemen, gets forgotten when it comes to player analysis. Staley hasn't missed a game in three years. His job on Sunday will be to protect Kaepernick's blind side. That's the most important task that 49er player will have in this game.

Staley will be an important player in both the run and pass game.
Staley will be an important player in both the run and pass game.Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Keeping Kaepernick protected from the multiple schemes and blitzes of the Seahawks will prove to be key if the Niners want to win.

Staley will be called on during screen plays as the lead blocker. His ability to get downfield and aid in the blocking will be important so that Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LeMichael James can get out in space and spread the field.

Staley and the entire offensive line need to be praised for their efforts. The Niners have rushed for more than 125 yards in every postseason game during the Jim Harbaugh era. That effort will be important on Sunday.


Bruce Irvin, OLB (Seattle)

As mentioned before, the Seahawks defense will give Kaepernick and the 49ers offense different looks on coverages and blitzes.

Irvin has played in every game since returning from a four-game suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, recording 40 tackles, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.

Irvin provides some 'pop' on defense.
Irvin provides some 'pop' on defense.Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

As an outside linebacker, Irvin will be asked to cover Niners tight end Vernon Davis and act as a spy on 49ers RBs on certain passing plays.

His ability to play in multiple coverages will prove important for the Seahawks defense. Stopping Davis will be key. Irvin will be ready for that challenge.


Doug Baldwin, WR (Seattle)

The 49ers focus on defense will be stopping wide receiver Golden Tate from getting downfield on passing plays. Expect them to use multiple packages that double Tate in coverage.

If that happens, Baldwin could become the main focus. The Seahawks WR caught 50 passes for over 700 yards and five touchdowns this season. In last week's divisional-round game, Baldwin caught two passes for 30 yards against the New Orleans Saints.

Baldwin goes up to grab a pass from Wilson for a first down.
Baldwin goes up to grab a pass from Wilson for a first down.John Froschauer/Associated Press

Baldwin has had two different types of games against San Francisco this season. In Week 2, he caught one pass that went for 51 yards, showing that he can stretch the field, if needed. In the Week 14 rematch, Baldwin was used more as a possession receiver, as he caught three balls for 36 yards.

If Percy Harvin is cleared to play, Seattle will have another receiver for which the Niners defense will have to account. This makes Baldwin even more valuable in the passing game. Having the third-year wideout on the outside to make big-game plays will be important for Wilson and the Seahawks passing game.