As Advertised- The 49ers and Seattle Seahawks played four solid quarters of football Sunday afternoon and before it was all said and done made sure the fans got their moneysworth. Phil Dawson kicked four field goals for the 49ers, the last of which came with just 26 seconds remaining. Dawson’s last field goal gave the red and gold a hard fought and hard earned 19-17 win over the arch rival Seahawks. The 49ers defense had one of their better games of the year in keeping Seattle QB Russell Wilson from getting out of the pocket too often and limited his ability to make plays in particular in the second half. The 49ers offense was tested and punished often by the top rated Seattle defense however managed to put together a game winning field goal drive which consumed 5:54 of the final 6:20 remaining in the game. A huge game breaking run of 51 yards by Frank Gore on the 49ers’ final drive set up what would the game winning field goal. Though it may be too late to keep the Seahawks from winning the NFC West at this juncture of the season, the 49ers made it a point Sunday to make sure that didn’t happen on the turf at Candlestick Park.
Dialing Long Distance- Dawson in the first half kicked three of his four field goals as the 49ers had drives stall short of the intended destination. In the first quarter the 49ers on their second possession drove 10 plays covering 56 yards in under five minutes. In this series of plays the 49ers used a mixture of run and pass plays to move the ball up field keeping the Seattle defense guessing as to what would be called next. Kendall Hunter and Frank Gore each had runs for first downs while Michael Crabtree had an over the shoulder catch setting up the 49ers at the Seattle 14. On a second down play 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick ran for nine yards before being tripped up by the Seahawks Bobby Wagner. On a third and one from the Seattle 5 yard line fullback Bruce Miller was stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain forcing the fourth down where Dawson would kick a 22 yard field goal. Dawson later in the opening quarter added his second field goal, this one from 48 yards. The second field goal was set up by a blocked punt where the ball actually bounced forward instead of backward where it was ruled down at the Seattle 34. However in three plays the 49ers offense could not do anything with the short field thus calling on Dawson for the second time. Dawson would add his third field goal from 52 yards in the second quarter after another offense series which drove 41 yards in 10 plays with the 49ers trailing 7-6. The big play in this series was Kaerpernick’s 20 yard pass completion to Anquon Bolding giving the 49ers the ball inside of Seahawks territory at the 37 yard line.
Seahawks Steal Thunder- Seattle had two touchdown drives in the second quarter which in both instances gave them the lead in the game. The first was off a series of eight plays covering 80 yards being capped off by a Marshawn Lynch 11 yard touchdown run where he just bulldozed his way to the end zone. The Seahawks were able to get a huge third down conversion from the 49ers 42 yard line when Wilson found Seattle wide receive Golden Tate who took the ball to the 49ers 17 yard line. Two plays later Seattle would be in the end zone. After the 49ers took the lead on Dawson’s third field goal the Seahawks answered right back with another touchdown drive of seven plays and 72 yards. Tight End Luke Willson on a second down play would get wide open in the 49ers secondary allowing Wilson to get the ball to him rather easily at the 49ers 20 yard line. From there Willson took off for the end zone as Carlos Rogers trying to tackle him just fanned on him instead. Willson would end up in the end zone and the Seahawks would have a 14-9 lead.
Key First Half Drive- The 49ers needing to respond to the two touchdown drives Seattle had just strung together put the last 3:47 of the second quarter to good use. The red and gold embarked on an 10 play 72 yard drive in which the 49ers again challenged the Seahawks defense with a series of running and passing plays. The key plays in this drive were two pass plays to Boldin, one of 10 yards and the other going for 19 good enough to negate a holding penalty on Seattle corner Mike Sherman. With the 49ers late in the drive facing a third and goal from the Seahawks eight yard line Kaepernick threw a perfect dart to Vernon Davis who was able to make the catch as he was falling into the end zone. Kaepernick’s pass had to be perfect as Davis had a couple of Seattle defenders hanging all over him. With the Phil Dawson extra point the 49ers grabbed a 16-14 lead they would take into the locker room at halftime.
Second Half: A Defensive Story- Both teams dug in hard in the second half as the defenses took over the show. Even though Seattle QB Wilson was able to make a few pass plays and convert some third downs, the 49ers defense always arose to the occasions when it mattered the most and would stymie all four Seahawks possessions forcing punts on three of the four series. Likewise the Seattle defense held serve for a good portion of the second half and though they would at times bend they refused to break. Late in the third quarter the 49ers appeared to be a scoring march having moved the ball 48 yards on just five plays from their own 32 to the Seattle 20 yard line. On a first down Kaepernick’s pass intended for Crabtree was intercepted by Byron Maxwell on the Seahawks two yard line putting an end to the red and gold scoring opportunity. In the final quarter Seattle would get a break when Golden Tate was able to return a Mike Lee punt to the 49ers 27 yard line giving the Seahawks ideal field position. The 49ers defense took the field knowing that somehow they need to find a way to hold the arch rivals to nothing more than a field goal. The 49ers defense again arose to the occasion holding the Seahawks high powered offense to 14 yards despite running seven plays. A 31 yard field goal by Seahawks place kicker Steven Hauschka gave Seattle a 17-16 lead with 6:20 remaining. After the ensuing kickoff by Hauschka went for a touchback the 49ers offense went to work.
49ers Last Stand- If there was ever a time for the 49ers offense to get going on a nice long scoring drive this was absolutely that time and that place. On the third play of the drive with 49ers needing to gain one yard for a first down they gave the ball to Bruce Miller who got the job done. On the very next play Kaepernick handed the ball Gore who gave Seattle a dose of the "Inconvenient Truth". Gore, who gained 110 yards on the day, found a running lane and took off down field for a 51 yard pickup before pulling up at the Seahawks 18 yard line. On the next two plays the 49ers played it safe keeping the ball on the ground for minimal gains forcing Seattle to use their last two time outs of the half. With the 49ers needing another first down Kaepernick called his own number on a third down and seven. Kaepernick ran the read option to his left and with some good blocks was able to gain eight yards for a key first down. This would allow the red and gold to drain the clock after the two minute warning which is precisely what the 49ers did. With :31 seconds remaining the 49ers turned to Dawson on forth down to drill a field goal of 22 yards. Dawson followed through and did precisely that splitting the uprights with :26 remaining. Seattle had one last gasp with :21 left after a kickoff return to their own 16 yard line. Wilson heaved a long pass down the field that was intercepted by 49ers corner Eric Wright at the 49ers 20 yard line sealing the red and gold victory.
49ers Earned This One- In one of the toughest hard fought games of the season the 49ers matched blow for blow the punches that the Seahawks would throw at them. It was a well played game by both teams. The fact that the game was low scoring did a lot more to favor the 49ers. The only way a team can really beat the Seahawks is to find a way to effectively bottle up their offense. In order to do that a team must have a defense that is a fast and as physical as any player on their offense. The 49ers never let Wilson wander too far out of the pocket today making it harder for him to improvise. At the same time, that team also needs to make plays on offense and to do so effectively. The fact that the 49ers defense held serve on their side of the ball for most of the afternoon this allowed the red and gold offense to make just enough plays to tilt the outcome in their favor. It was also nice for the 49ers to not allow the Seahawks to clinch the NFC West Division title at Candlestick Park. Seattle’s division clinching may be inevitable, but the 49ers weren’t about to have that happen on their turf. A great job by the 49ers on both sides of the ball Sunday.
49ers Next Game- The 49ers in Week 15 travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers. Despite their 4-9 record, Tampa has played well as of late and are another one of those teams that can create trouble if given the opportunity. The 49ers need to treat this game and opponent with respect and attention to detail, exactly what they did Sunday against Seattle. The kickoff for the 49ers and Buccaneers is next Sunday (December 15th) at 10am PT (1pm ET in Tampa). The game will be carried on FOX.
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