The Seahawks and 49ers renewed their rivalry in the bay area, and what a game it was. The two quarterbacks got a chance to showcase their stuff and each of the defenses were flying around for four full quarters and it made for a compelling game. In the battle of QB’s, you would have to say that it was almost dead even. Russell Wilson was outstanding, throwing for 199 yards and a touchdown. On Seattle’s final play of the game, he did lob the ball down the field and it was intercepted by Eric Wright, but in that situation you can forgive him as he was simply trying to make a great play in a desperate situation. Colin Kaepernick played pretty well also. He made one bad throw (and paid for it inside the red zone as he was picked off by Byron Maxwell). Other than that one blemish, you could say he pieced together his best game since Week 1 of this season. Kap threw a touchdown pass to Vernon Davis at the end of the second quarter and amassed 175 yards through the air and 31 on the ground. Wilson accounted for 201 yards of offense while Kaepernick totaled 206.
Defensively, the game was also a near deadlock. San Fran’s “D” surrendered 264 total yards while Seattle gave up 318. Even though the Seahawks gave up 54 more yards, they only allowed one touchdown on the afternoon. Otherwise, the defense stood tall in it’s own territory (forcing four Phil Dawson field goals, all of which were made). I thought that the Seattle corners looked very good in this game. As per usual, they were very physical at the point of attack and were jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Frisco’s wide-out, Anquan Boldin, had a nice day. He made a couple of strong hands catches and ended up with six grabs for 93 yards. On the other side, the ‘Hawks leading receiver was tight end Luke Willson. he had three catches for 70 yards, including a long touchdown of 39 yards (the first of his career). Marshawn Lynch accounted for the other Seattle touchdown, this coming on the ground from eleven yards out. In my opinion, the San Fran defense (under the direction of Vic Fangio) did a great job in this game. They allowed just three 20+ yard plays. Seattle came into this game second in the league in big plays, and the Niners did a good job in coverage (from the secondary) to cut down on the amount of big play opportunities.
The biggest difference in this game was the blocked punt by Kassim Osgood in the first quarter of this one. That’s right, we are about to give some love to the special teams. Osgood split the gap and blocked Jon Ryan’s punt, setting the 49ers up at the Seattle 34 yard line. Even though the Seahawks were able to hold San Fran to a field goal on the drive, it hurt them in the long run. Those three points were just enough to give Jim Harbaugh and company the spread necessary to steal a win at home from the previously 11-1 Seahawks.
Besides the loss, the most alarming thing for Seattle was the amount of penalties they were called for. That is, by far, the biggest weakness of this team. Many of the flags they draw do come from being over-aggressive, however and I doubt Pete Carroll is about to discourage that type of play. These guys just need to find a happy medium and continue to play aggressively while not warranting a penalty flag. It can be done, and these guys are good enough to do it. However, at this point, being penalized nine times for 85 yards is a pretty big deal. This is something that will need to change.
For the 49ers, their biggest play of the game came late in the fourth quarter. Down 17-16 with 6:20, Frank Gore was able to pop a 51 yard run. San Francisco was able to drain 5:54 of clock en route to kicking their go-ahead field goal with just :26 left in the game. At the time, I thought the best way for the 49ers to win the game would be to see them drain a ton of clock while getting the go-ahead score. Even with a spectacular defense, I’ll bet Jim Harbaugh did not want to see Russell Wilson with the ball in his hands with the game on the line. So, the fact that they were able to score with little time left was huge. Gore’s big run put them in position to kick a field goal, and the Colin Kaepernick eight yard run on a third and seven was monumental in the outcome of this game. It allowed the Niners to drain another (about) 1:13 off the clock, making the comeback situation for Seattle nearly impossible.
So, the Seahawks fall on the road to the 49ers once again. They have not been able to win on the road against them since 2008, and with this loss they are yet to clinch the division. A win would have guaranteed them the NFC West and a first round BYE in the playoffs. However, they have a few more shots at accomplishing those goals as it seems inevitable that Seattle will achieve both by the season’s end. Anyways, this is a huge win for the Niners. They are now in a good position for a wild card spot with a record of 9-4. Sitting in the sixth seed, they are a game up on their next closest competitors (with one of those being Arizona, a team they will play on the final weekend of this season). Simply put, this was a must-win game for the 49ers, and they got the job done. This has to be a huge boost of confidence for a very good team that seems like it is gaining it’s footing down the stretch of this 2013 season.