The San Francisco 49ers used sound second-half adjustments on both sides of the ball and a steady dose of Frank Gore to erase a 6-3 halftime deficit to move to 5-2 on the season, momentarily taking control of the NFC West with a 13-6 win over the Seattle Seahawks (4-3) on Thursday night.
After Steven Hauschka and David Akers exchanged field goals in the first goal, the Seahawks took a 6-3 lead on a 35-yard field goal by Hauschka with 12:07 to play in the second quarter. After allowing the 49ers to gain 98 yards and control the clock for nearly nine and a half minutes in the first quarter, Seattle's defense stymied the 49ers in the second, limiting Alex Smith and Co. to just 12 net yards of offense on nine plays in less than five minutes of possession. Even when taking over at midfield with 1:27 to play in the half following a 38-yard punt return by Ted Ginn, the 49ers' offense couldn't move the ball an inch and were forced to punt the ball back to the Seahawks.
In the final 30 minutes, however, the 49ers would take over.
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On their first possession of the second half, Smith directed a 10-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown catch-and-run by tight end Delanie Walker, who avoided Seahawks defenders to sneak inside the pylon for the score. On that drive, Smith checked down to running backs Gore and Kendall Hunter for gains of 15, 11 and 12 yards and connected with Michael Crabtree for 10 yards on a critical 3rd-and-9 play.
Gore was the offensive star of the night, rushing for a game-high 131 yards and had 49ers team-highs with five receptions for 51 yards. Smith completed 14-of-23 pass attempts for 140 yards and the touchdown for Walker, but made a critical error in the red zone when the 49ers had an opportunity to take a 17-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. Facing a 3rd-and-7, good coverage by Seattle's defense forced Smith to roll out to his left where he missed a wide open Randy Moss in the back of the end zone before throwing the ball late and across his body. Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner intercepted the pass to thwart a potential scoring drive.
Following a three-and-out by the Seahawks' offense, Gore and Hunter chewed up nearly five minutes of the game clock on a seven-play, 39-yard drive to set up a 28-yard field goal by Akers that extended the 49ers' lead to seven points. The Seahawks could not advance beyond their own 31-yard line on their following possession and were forced to give the ball back to the 49ers with just over two minutes remaining on the clock and a pair of timeouts to potentially give the offense another shot. Seattle's defense did their jobs, stuffing Hunter, who had replaced a banged up Gore (ribs, is expected to be fine), for runs of two and zero yards. Smith attempted a quarterback draw that went for three yards and the 49ers were forced to punt. A 66-yard boomer from Andy Lee pinned the Seahawks at their own 11-yard line with 1:35 to play and no timeouts.
A quick five-yard out to Sidney Rice was followed by Wilson taking a seven-yard sack when Aldon Smith beat right tackle Breno Giacomini. On 3rd-and-17 from their own 4-yard line, Wilson's pass to tight end Zach Miller was tipped at the line and fell short. The night got interesting on 4th-and-17, as Wilson connected with Ben Obomanu, who appeared to have reached near the line to gain. However, the referees had called Seahawks left guard Paul McQuistan for a chop-block in the end zone, which would result in a safety and a 15-6 win for the 49ers. With Obomanu ruled short of the line to gain — which was confirmed by replay — 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh opted to decline the penalty and take the ball over on downs instead of providing Seattle with an opportunity to run an onside kick.
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The 49ers held Seattle's offense to just 74 yards in the second half, though the Seahawks were frequently their own worst enemy throughout the night. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson struggled, completing just nine of 23 attempts for 122 yards and made an ill-advised throw into triple coverage that was intercepted by 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. While Wilson may have struggled, he was going up against one of the NFL's top defenses and got little help in the passing game from his supporting cast. Rookie running back Robert Turbin dropped what appeared to be a touchdown pass on their opening possession, tight end Evan Moore dropped what would have been a 20+ yard gain on the opening play of the second quarter and Golden Tate had a pair of drops, including on a 3rd-and-2 play from the 49ers' 43-yard line, the furthest into San Francisco territory the Seahawks would venture in the second half.
One bright spot for the Seahawks offense was the play of running back Marshawn Lynch, who had 19 carries for 103 yards, gaining many of his yards after contact. With his 103-yard night, Lynch now has an NFL-high 652 rushing yards on the season, leading Gore by 51 yards.