Willis explains what makes Seattle difficult to defend
Programming note: Watch Thursday's 49ers press conferences with Jim Harbaugh, Vic Fangio, Greg Roman, Michael Crabtree and NaVorro Bowman live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at 11:55 or streaming live right here
Editor's note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights four 49ers-Seahawks matchups to watch Sunday, 3:30 p.m., in Seattle
49ers LB Patrick Willis vs. Seahawks TEs Zach Miller/Luke Willson
Tale of the tape
Willis (52): 6 foot 1, 240 pounds, seventh season, Mississippi
Miller (86): 6 foot 5, 255 pounds, seventh season, Arizona State
Willson (82): 6 foot 5, 252 pounds, rookie, Rice
Linebacker Patrick Willis went through a rough patch earlier this season when it appeared he was not close to full strength.
He sustained a groin strain in a loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and missed two games. When he returned to action, he admittedly was not quite 100 percent for most of the season.
Willis’ problems seemed to carry over into early December. He seemed to be laboring in coverage against Seahawks No. 2 tight end Luke Willson, who had three catches for 70 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown against Willis in Week 14.
With the NFC Championship game expected to be a tight, defensive affair, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson could look to his tight ends to keep drives alive. Willis will mostly be working against veteran Zach Miller, who caught 13 passes on third downs during the regular season.
“Miller, he's a blocking guy, but he can also catch,” Willis said on Wednesday. “Willson is more of their receiving guy. He can get down the field. We just have to play complete team defense.”
[RATTO: Sunday can't come soon enough]
Willis has done a solid job in coverage against tight ends in the playoffs, and that will have to continue on Sunday.
With Willis taking over most of the coverage responsibilities against tight ends, Carolina tight end Greg Olsen caught four passes for 55 yards and Green Bay’s Andrew Quarless was held to one reception for 8 yards.