The Seattle Seahawks hadn't won in San Francisco since 2008. It turns out, all the team needed was for the 49ers to move out of the city. Seattle's defense stepped up into the spotlight once again as the Seahawks defeated the 49ers 19-3 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Collin Kaepernick and the 49ers were never able to get their offense going, often drawing boos from the home crowd. They were held to just 164 total yards, their lowest total in a game since 2006.
Kaepernick finished the night with just 100 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions and a QB rating of 36.7. Carlos Hyde was San Francisco's leading receiver with three catches for 38 yards. Michael Crabtree had just three catches for 10 yards.
Russell Wilson had another successful night with 236 passing yards and a touchdown to go along with seven carries for 35 yards. Marshawn Lynch went over the century mark for the third time in the past four games with 20 carries for 104 yards.
It was one of the biggest wins of the year for the Seahawks who have now won five of their last six games since dropping two in a row back in October. The teams were neck and neck in the division, and now the Seahawks have taken the first step towards pulling away from the 49ers as they try to catch Arizona in the final month.
Right off the bat, things started off on the wrong foot for the 49ers. Michael Crabtree took a hit on the third play of the game and would need to head off to the sideline. It was soon determined that Crabtree suffered a rib injury on the play and looked to be in visible discomfort. However, it clearly looked like he had injured his knee on the play, bringing Crabtree's anatomy into question.
So perhaps Michael Crabtree hurt the rib he has in his left knee.— Danny 710ESPNSeattle (@DDMon710) November 28, 2014
While he was officially listed as questionable to return, Crabtree headed right back out to the field on their next drive. San Francisco's opening drive stalled when Seattle's secondary had every receiver covered, forcing the 49ers to punt it away.
Seattle's opening drive fared no better as a clipping call against rookie Justin Britt backed the Seahawks up 15 yards, killing the drive almost as quickly as it had begun.
Both sides would punt the ball away on their first two drives as the game turned into an early field position battle. In the first five possessions of the game, we saw one first down. Punting fans, rejoice!
On San Francisco's third drive, Richard Sherman leaped up to intercept Collin Kaepernick on 3rd and 8, giving the Seahawks the ball on the San Francisco 45 to start their next drive. The pick was Sherman's second of the year. His only other interception of the season came at home against Oakland.
The Seahawks delivered the game's first big offensive play as a catch-and-run pass to Doug Baldwin went 25 yards down to the San Francisco 11. Wilson would then hit Robert Turbin on the edge for a 13-yard touchdown swing pass to give the Seahawks the early 7-0 lead. Last week, the Seahawks were just 1-5 in the red zone, so it was promising to see them convert on their first trip inside the 20.
Early in the 2nd quarter, fans started to get restless after another frustrating drive. When the 49ers were faced with a 3rd and 20 and opted for the draw to Frank Gore, some scattered boos started to rain down. San Francisco was struggling to get their offense going, and fans were getting impatient. I get that it's the "safe" play, but you have to take a shot in situations like that. Opting for the draw is just giving up on the drive.
On Seattle's next drive, Russell Wilson made an incredibly athletic play, avoiding a sack several times and hit Tony Moeaki for 63 yards all the way down to the 1-yard line. Wilson's ability to escape the pocket when the protection collapses while still being able to look downfield is what makes this guy special.
For those who think Russell Wilson does nothing other than hand the ball to Lynch & watch his D, I present another Houdini act to you.— Jerry Brewer (@JerryBrewer) November 28, 2014
The drive would stall however as the Seahawks had to settle for a field goal. After Marshawn Lynch was stuffed needing just one yard, the Seahawks went back to the air, resulting in a sack and an incomplete pass.
Wilson would hit Turbin for another big play, gaining 34 yards to move the ball into San Francisco territory. An illegal formation penalty on the next pay negated Turbin's run of 16 yards and stalled another drive as the Seahawks would once again send on Hauschka to take the easy points, extending their lead to 13-0.
The Seahawks would come up with the luckiest play of the game on what looked to be just another punt, a common theme of the night. The bizarre play started when Jon Ryan couldn't handle the snap and had to scramble to get the punt away. Somehow he did, and Perrish Cox scooped up the ball on a bounce. Ricardo Lockette flew in to force the fumble, giving the Seahawks possession on the San Francisco 40. The play went from near-disaster for the Seahawks to a fresh set of downs. Talk about a wild swing of events.
Seattle would catch another break on the ensuing break as Wilson fumbled the ball on the run. Fortunately, he was able to come up with the ball right away, but the Seahawks would wind up having to punt the ball anyway, taking a 13-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
Seattle's defense was the story of the first half, holding the 49ers to just 71 yards of offense. Kaepernick had a first half he'd like to soon forget, completing 7-of-16 passes for just 55 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Meanwhile, the Seahawks had racked up 201 yards of offense. Wilson completed 9-of-14 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown. Had it not been for the stalled drives when the Seahawks had to settle for a pair of field goals in the red zone, including one from the 2 yard line, this game might have been blown open by the half.
On Seattle's opening drive of the first half, we were treated to Beast Mode in full effect. At midfield, Lynch plowed through a defender to fight for an extra few yards. A few plays later, Lynch broke free for 33 yards to get the ball inside the 10. Wilson then hit Paul Richardson for a 7-yard touchdown, but the score was called back after Robert Turbin was hit with an offensive pass interference. As a result, the Seahawks would once again need to settle for a field goal.
It also appeared that if most of the 49ers fans didn't have the patience to wait for San Francisco's offense to get going, bolting for the exits while using the pyrotechnics from the halftime concert as a smoke screen.
The fans have left the building. pic.twitter.com/AjIgVGFacF— Terry Blount (@TerryBlountESPN) November 28, 2014
The 49ers would finally get their first points of the night at the end of a long drive that went 12 plays for 59 yards in seven minutes. After Michael Bennett came up with a sack against Kaepernick, Phil Dawson hit a 40-yard field goal, making it a 16-3 game with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter. The drive marked the first time of the night that San Francisco was able to reach the red zone.
Seattle would continue their trend they've set the past couple weeks, driving into San Francisco territory before having to settle for a field goal. But, as I was told during the game, "points are points." Steven Hauschka hit his fourth field goal of the night, a 46-yarder, to extend Seattle's lead to 19-3.
Midway through the 4th quarter, Richard Sherman came up with his second interception of the night. After the play, Sherman went to the bench and put his finger up to his lips, waving goodbye to whatever fans were left in the stadium.
It's no secret that Sherman loves playing the 49ers. In his eight career games against San Francisco, Sherman has come up with four interceptions.
It was clear that Kaepernick was having one of the worst games of his career. Just how bad was it at this point after the interception?
Colin Kaepernick passer rating: 23.8 Passer rating for a QB who spikes every single pass into the ground: 39.6— Sam HawkBadger (@hwkbgr) November 28, 2014
While a comeback at this point was highly unlikely considering the most offense the 49ers could muster all night was a field goal, the interception was the final nail in the coffin.
After the win, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman sat down at a table set up on the midfield logo to chow down on some turkey legs, one of the most enjoyable moments of the night.
"Sometimes you should let sleeping dogs lie or you gonna get this" - Richard Sherman on the 49ers fans— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 28, 2014
After the short week, Seattle now gets 10 days off before heading to Philadelphia to face the 9-3 Eagles who annihilated the Cowboys earlier in the day. It will be one of the toughest remaining challenges of the season, featuring two teams who are peaking out at exactly the right moment.