The San Francisco 49ers faced off against the Seattle Seahawks in one of the most difficult road venues in the National Football League and were able to pull of a hard fought 19-17 victory. It is another example of a game that wasn’t pretty by the 49ers, yet it was one of the more impressive wins being that it was in Seattle a place known for being a tough environment to play in.
With the win over the Seahawks it allows the 49ers to gain the upper hand on the New Orleans Saints for the no.2 seed in the NFC. This is important because it means at least one home game and the possibility of homefield advantage if there’s an upset. For the Seahawks there still was a slight chance for the team to gain a Wild Card spot and the Seahawks needed help to remain in contention and once the Detroit Lions won their game the Seahaws were officially eliminated.
So, as for the game the Seahawks came out firing on all cylinder on their first possession. The 49ers got nice pressure on the first play from scrimmage and Tavaris Jackson made a better play by going deep to Ricardo Lockette for a 43 yard gain. With momentum from the big play the Seahawks were able to score quickly on a nice wide receiver screen to Doug Baldwin to put the Seahawks up quickly 7-0.
Then the game became more about defense! On the 49ers first possession the offense was able to gain a few yards, yet only able to have a field goal attempt that was missed and it was from 52 yards. The next drive was more of the same except for the results as David Akers was able to boot a 53-yard field goal.
Finally towards the end of the second quarter the game got a little more exciting and it was another excellent drive by the Seahawks as Marshawn Lynch was able to slash through the 49ers defense and with just over two minutes left in the half Lynch and the Seahawks appeared to be in prime position to score with a first and goal at the seven.
Looking to Lynch he went for four yards and then was given another carry and took it just short the goal line. The play was reviewed to see whether or not Lynch was able to get into the end zone. There wasn’t enough evidence to overturn the original call on the field which was no touchdown. The third down play was going to be strength on strength, the 49ers strong rushing defense against one of the best running backs in the NFL. Instead cornerback Carlos Rogers made a great play on Jackson on what was a broken play and appeared to be a false start on the Seahawks and since there was no whistle Rogers played through and knocked Jackson out of bounds without Jackson getting a chance to get to the goal line.
So, the Seahawks instead settled for a 19-yard field goal by Steven Hauska.
Like the Seahawks the 49ers started the second half with an impressive drive as Alex Smith made a number of impressive throws and plays including a broken play where he took a high snap and managed to gain three yards with his legs. Eventually after making two straight completions to Vernon Davis, Frank Gore took the ball in for a four yard touchdown run and the game was tied 10-10.
As for the 49ers defense it was much better in the second half as Lynch was never able to get going and the 49ers were able to gash the Seahawks defense with nice runs from Gore and Kendall Hunter. Yet, what kept the Seahawks in the game was the continued red zone struggles, which resulted in two more field goals by David Akers.
A tremendous special teams play turned the momentum around for the Seahawks who had done nothing offensively in the second half. The Seahawks had just forced the 49ers into a three and out and the NFC’s best punter Andy Lee came into punt. With solid pressure on Andy Lee the Seahawks were able to block the punt. Colin Jones of the 49ers recovered the football at the four and that’s where the Seahawks took over. Lynch did not miss his third opportunity to get into the end zone and the Seahawks took a 17-16 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff one of the biggest moments of the game occurred. Kyle Williams had returned the ball 25 yards when he had tripped on his own and instead of attempting to run for more yards, stayed on his knees and acted out in frustration of not being able to pick more yards up. When two Seahawks special teams players plowed into him and knocked the football loose resulting in the Seahawks recovering what was believed to be a fumble by Williams.
By rule though Williams had given himself up and therefore the contact by the Seahawks was unnecessary and therefore a penalty of 15yards was assessed. Three plays later, Smith was able to find Michael Crabtree deep for a 41 yard gain putting the 49ers in field goal range for Akers. With the 49ers defense the playcalling became more conservative and rather than attempt to score a touchdown Gore and Kendall Hunter were given opportunities, which took time off the clock. It led to a 39-yard field goal by Akers to put the 49ers back up 19-17.
Even with the field goal the Seahawks had more than enough time to go down the field to win the game. The drive started off well for the Seahawks as Lynch ran for six yards and with that run it put him over the 100-yard mark which was the first time this season that had happened to the 49ers, he then caught a short pass that picked up an additional 20 yards. Another carry for Lynch brought on the two minute warning.
After the two minute warning the biggest play of the game happened for the 49ers, as the coverage by the 49ers secondary was great. Larry Grant filling in for the injured Patrick Willis was able to force Jackson out of the pocket and made him attempt to make a play with his legs instead of throwing the football. Grant was able to chase down Jackson down and punch the ball out and safety Donte Whitner recovered the football.
The Seahawks still had all three timeouts remaining and used all three on the 49ers ensuing possession. With just 27 seconds taken off the clock the Seahawks had another chance to get into field goal range. Jackson found Justin Forsett for an eight yard gain and he attempted to elude a tackle by the 49ers, so he could get out of bounds and stop the clock, he wasn’t able to do do that. The Seahawks then had to spike the football to stop the clock. Jackson was unable to complete a pass in the next two plays which resulted in a turnover on downs.
Notes: Lynch ran for 100 yards that was the first time since Ryan Grant on November 22nd, 2009 that a running back had gone over 100 yards against the 49ers defense. Delanie Walker left the game with a jaw injury and was not able to return to the game, he was able to rejoin his teammates to fly back back home. Aldon Smith recorded his 14th sack of the season which puts him at just .5 sacks away from breaking the NFL record by a rookie.