Bracing for impact

"Us personally, we had a hard time tackling him when he got into the secondary," said one head coach who faced the Seahawks this season. "It's definitely a mismatch if he's going to make it a physical confrontation. He runs so well behind his pads and has the speed to bounce the ball outside. He's very unique for a guy his size that has the start and stop ability he has."

The Niners' Frank Gore may not be the fastest back left in the playoffs, but other attributes make him a dangerous weapon.

"Of all the backs (left in the playoffs), he's probably the slowest, but he's got very good vision," said one coach. "He's got very good anticipation. He does a very good job setting his blocks up. He gets behind ( Mike) Iupati, ( Joe) Staley and ( Anthony) Davis and let's those guys create that separation that you need to have between the defensive line and the linebackers. I think it's going to be a hell of a game."

In his three full seasons since arriving in Seattle via a trade from Buffalo, the 27-year-old Lynch has carried the ball 901 times for 4,051 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns. He has never been held below 1,000 yards in a season.

In two games against San Francisco this season, Lynch carried the ball 48 times for 180 yards and three scores. The Seahawks won the Week 2 matchup at CenturyLink Field 29-3 and lost 19-17 in San Francisco in Week 14.

"Outstanding," Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday when asked to describe Lynch. "Consistently been great game after game. Huge task for us and challenge for our defense. That's the kind of competitive struggle that we all anticipate, and that's what makes it just so much darn fun."

That's one way to describe it.

For the Niners to keep having fun beyond this weekend, they will have to contain Lynch. Given his relentlessness, it is easier said than done.

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