"I think we're the two teams everyone was looking at from the beginning," Kaepernick said. "It's going to be a knockdown, drag-out game."
The 49ers have committed seven turnovers and been outscored 71-16 in their past two trips to Seattle, including a 29-3 Week 2 loss in September.
"We're a different team than we were the first time we played them up there," Kaepernick insisted.
The 49ers (14-4) will get a chance to prove that next weekend after Kaepernick completed 15 of 28 passes for 196 yards Sunday, avenging his worst statistical performance of the season two months ago against the Panthers. He was held to 91 yards passing and 16 yards rushing in the first meeting with Carolina, a 10-9 loss at Candlestick Park.
On Saturday, Marshawn Lynch ran for a franchise playoff-record 140 yards and two touchdowns and Seattle's defense flustered Drew Brees and New Orleans in a 23-15 victory. The top-seeded Seahawks advanced to the NFC title game for the second time, and first since the 2005 playoffs.
"We haven't done anything yet," quarterback Russell Wilson said. "That's our goal. We have 60 minutes of football left."
Against a familiar foe.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh have been rivals dating to their days as opponents in the old Pac-10 conference.
In 2009, after Harbaugh's Stanford team ran up the score on Carroll's Southern California squad in a 55-21 rout, the two met at midfield and an annoyed Carroll barked, "What's your deal?"
They've carried that over to the NFL — and it might get ramped up again during the week with a Super Bowl appearance on the line.
"We're healthy, we're a great team and we're willing to do whatever it takes to get that ring," Gore said. "We're playing great ball."
The 49ers held Cam Newton in check, intercepting him twice and sacking him five times while stopping the Panthers (12-5) twice on the 1-yard line in the first half.
At Seattle, Steven Hauschka kicked three field goals in blustery conditions, and Lynch capped the victory with a 31-yard scoring run with 2:40 left that Carroll celebrated by jumping into offensive line coach Tom Cable's arms.
"It feels awesome," fullback Michael Robinson said, "but this doesn't mean anything if we don't win next week."
AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Janie McCauley, Steve Reed, Arnie Stapleton and Howard Ulman contributed.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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