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49ers Fall 42-13 to Seahawks

Posted Dec 23, 2012

SEATTLE – The San Francisco 49ers failed to win for their head coach on his 49th birthday Sunday night, dropping a 42-13 NFC West matchup to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.

“We didn’t do good enough, didn’t coach well enough, didn’t play well enough,” Jim Harbaugh reasoned after the biggest defeat of his 49ers coaching career. “We didn’t win the down enough. We didn’t make the plays and they did.”

It was San Francisco’s first loss in primetime this season and first loss in Sunday night action, dropping them to 5-1 and 3-1 on the season in both circumstances. The 49ers are now 10-4-1 on the season.

Failed opportunism reigned supreme for Harbaugh’s team Sunday night in Seattle.

A three-game winning streak over their division rivals ended with an abrupt onslaught from a Seahawks team who improved to 7-0 at home.

Playing in a downpour for most of the game, Seattle continued to drop game-changing plays against the NFC West leaders, who need a win over the Arizona Cardinals at home next week to clinch division titles in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1994-95.

Seattle, meanwhile, got up early and never looked back.

“They were playing fast and things were going their way,” said 49ers running back Frank Gore, who rushed for 28 yards on six carries, a sign of the lopsided game that went the Seahawks way early.

Even when the 49ers found themselves trailing in the game's early moments, they managed to not capitalize on opportunities that would have put them back in the game.

Down 14-0 to start the second quarter, San Francisco had a 21-yard field goal attempt from David Akers blocked and returned for a 90-yard touchdown by cornerback Richard Sherman.

“It came from our right guard,” Harbaugh said of Seattle defensive tackle Red Bryant’s blocked kick. “He’s very good at it.”

When the 49ers trailed 21-0, a Patrick Willis interception inside Seattle’s red zone led to a 33-yard David Akers field goal and not a touchdown.

“Obviously you want to score a touchdown when you’re in that position,” said quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who finished the game 19 of 36 with 244 yards, one interception and a late-game touchdown pass to Delanie Walker.

In the second half, the failed comeback attempts continued.

Down 28-6, driving with momentum inside of Seattle territory on their first possession of the second half – a quick Kaepernick pass to Mario Manningham was quickly fumbled when two Seahawks defenders hit the 49ers wideout immediately in the legs causing him to lose control of the ball.

Making matter worse, Manningham left the game after the hit and did not return. Harbaugh said X-rays were negative on his injured left knee.

Sherman added insult to the injury late in the game when he intercepted Kaepernick in the end zone on third and goal from three yards out.

“I don’t think we played well as a team,” Harbaugh said after the loss. “I don’t think anyone will after this game.”

Seattle also converted 11 of 13 third downs and was a perfect 4-for-4 in the red zone. Conversely, San Francisco converted 3 of 11 third downs and went 1 of 4 on red zone trips. The Seahawks also outgained the 49ers, 346 to 313.

“We didn’t play our best football,” cornerback Tarell Brown said after Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes against a stingy 49ers defense playing without All-Pro defensive tackle Justin Smith for the first time in his five seasons in San Francisco.

The less than stellar showing began early.

Following a three-and-out to start the game by the 49ers offense, the Seahawks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Marshawn Lynch’s first carry went for a 24-yard touchdown run, capping a two-play scoring drive.

Lynch had plenty of running room along the left side of the line and bounced his way into the end zone to give Seattle the game’s first points less than two minutes into the game. Lynch finished the game with 111 yards on 26 carries.

“I don’t want to make any excuse,” Willis said after the Sunday night game fell seven days after a marathon-like game against the New England Patriots. “Any time you play a game, you have to get up for it. They got the best of us today. Credit where credit’s due.”

Seattle kept on the gas pedal with a 43-yard pass hookup between Wilson and slot wideout Doug Baldwin, who lost initial possession of the football but somehow kicked it back to himself as he hit the ground inside of San Francisco territory. It stood as the game's longest play from scrimmage.

Seattle's march continued with a 9-yard Lynch touchdown catch out of the backfield. San Francisco lost the star running back after a well-designed play saw two slot receivers run slant patterns to create an opening for the running back to find an easy path to the end zone.

Just like that, Seattle led 14-0.

The 49ers had allowed four touchdowns all season to NFC West opponents prior to Sunday night and allowed two touchdowns to Seattle in the first quarter alone, also tying the most first-quarter points allowed by San Francisco's defense all season.

Seattle exceeded that mark in this game with five offensive touchdowns.

“It’s a learning experience,” Brown said. “We’d rather deal with it now than in the playoffs. … We got to bounce back.”

Down 14 on the road early, Kaepernick responded with third-down conversions through the air to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree. Kaepernick later had Davis open on a wheel route for another third-down conversion, but a jarring hit from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor was flagged as a defenseless hit, giving San Francisco the ball 1st and goal at the 10.

San Francisco appeared to be in position for points, but a blocked field goal from 21 yards out which was returned for a touchdown by Sherman kept the momentum on Seattle’s side.

The 21-0 lead to start the second quarter was also the largest deficit of the Harbaugh era, who once trailed to the Philadelphia Eagles by 20 points last season.

The 49ers added an Akers field goal to get their only first-half points, but it wasn’t enough to turn the game their way.

With the score at 21-3, Seattle continued to move the ball effectively against San Francisco’s defense. a 13-play scoring drive went 60 yards and took 8:21 off the clock. Wilson completed his second touchdown of the pass to tight end Anthony McCoy.

Akers added a 54-yard field goal to close out the first half, but it was a 28-6 game and the loud Seahawks fan base was just about to make things even tougher on the visiting 49ers.

The 49ers forced a three-and-out to start the second half, but fumbled the opportunity away when Manningham was on the wrong side of a Chancellor open-field tackle.

After Manningham’s fumble, Baldwin caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to cap a 15-play scoring drive. It also gave Seattle a 35-6 lead.

In response, the 49ers had the ball 3rd-and-goal from the 3-yard line, but Sherman intercepted Kaepernick who threw across his body into the back of the end zone for Moss.

Baldwin scored another touchdown after the Sherman interception. It was Baldwin’s second catch of the game, this time from 6 yards out to make it a 42-6 game.

The 49ers rallied for a late, 18-yard touchdown pass to Walker, but the damage was done.

San Francisco will look to bounce back against Arizona, a game with plenty on the line.

“We’re going to be fine,” Gore said after the game. “We know what type of team we are. We’re going to keep fighting. We know what team we have in this locker room… It’s how you bounce back next week.”

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