Seahawks-49ers matchup No. 1: Colin Kaepernick vs. Earl Thomas
Earl Thomas has one of Colin Kaepernick's seven interceptions this eason. (USATSI)
Editor's note: This is the last part in a series that spotlights three 49ers-Seahawks matchups to watch Sunday, 1:25 p.m., at Candlestick Park
[MATCHUP NO. 3: Cliff Avril vs. Anthony Davis]
[MATCHUP NO. 2: Marshawn Lynch vs. Glenn Dorsey]
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick vs. Seahawks FS Earl Thomas
Tale of the tape
Kaepernick (7): 6 foot 4, 230 pounds, third season, Nevada
Thomas (29): 5 foot 10, 202 pounds, fourth season, Texas
They had their chance.
The 49ers faced a first-and-goal at the Seattle Seahawks’ 9-yard line and had an opportunity take an early lead in Week 2. At least, the 49ers would have taken a 3-0 lead.
But quarterback Colin Kaepernick tried to squeeze a third-down pass into tight end Vernon Davis at the goal line. The ball was tipped and safety Earl Thomas intercepted it. The 49ers did not score in the first half, trailing 5-0, and went on to a 29-3 loss in Seattle.
Kaepernick has made 22 NFL starts, including three postseason games, and that game marked the only time an opponent has intercepted Kaepernick more than once. Seattle picked off Kaepernick three times.
In Kaepernick’s two career starts against the Seahawks – both road games – the 49ers were outscored 71-16. In Week 2, he completed just 13 of 28 attempts for 127 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptios.
“I know Colin, I know he’s one of those guys who will go out and work,” Davis said. “He’s going to play his hardest no matter what. He’s man enough to take criticism. He owns up to his mistakes and he’s a winner.”
Kaepernick and the 49ers have gotten back on the winning track entering Sunday's matchup of the top two teams in the NFC West. Kaepernick is coming off back-to-back game in which he posted passer ratings of 134.5 and 111.5 in victories over Washington and St. Louis.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman was particularly impressed with Kaepernick’s 275-yard passing performance in the 49ers’ 23-13 win over the Rams.
“I thought last week’s game against the Rams was one of the best games, if not the best, he’s played big-picture wise,” Roman said. “Everything from soup to nuts, A to Z, I thought it was a magnificent performance on a lot of levels. So that was great to see.”
The Seahawks pose the biggest challenge for Kaepernick. Seattle has a strong pass rush coming from a number of different angles as well as a physical and talented defensive backfield.
Thomas is a player Kaepernick labeled as a “ballhawk.” Thomas is tied with cornerback Richard Sherman for the team lead with four interceptions, and he is well on his way to a third straight Pro Bowl appearance.
Thomas’ ability to play the middle of the field is one of the big reasons Seattle is the best in the NFL with an opponent passer rating of 69.5.
“He’s really great at so many things that you want a safety to be great at,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “He’s a sure-tackler, a hard-hitter, covers a lot of ground. (He) does a great job of reading the eyes of the quarterback.
“He’s able to make the plays in the deep part of the field. He’s able to make plays up near the line of scrimmage, in the backfield or at the linebacker depth. He can cover a lot of ground. He’s like Willie Mays. He’s a five-tool player. He can do it all.”
[RELATED: Harbaugh, Carroll invoke Willie Mays]