SEATTLE - It would have been hard to imagine a better first play for the 49ers on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.
But a perfect start couldn't stop a miserable ending in San Francisco's 23-17 defeat to the Seahawks in the teams' NFC Championship bout.
The 49ers outside linebacker sacked, stripped and stole the football from Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson after the first snap from scrimmage.
Smith spoke during the week of the front seven's collective effort at putting pressure on the very mobile Wilson. He echoed that sentiment postgame in a dismayed locker room.
"I was just rushing," he said. "It was just being consistent with the rush."
Smith would add his second sack later in the game to complete his valiant, four-tackle performance.
It wasn't enough.
While he and his teammates held Marshawn Lynch to 33 yards on a dozen first-half carries, Lynch and the Seahawks offense couldn't be stopped after intermission.
Lynch would rush for 76 more yards, including his 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter, for a grand total of 109 on 22 touches.
"He's a good running back," Smith said. "He's going to get his yards. We did a good job of wrapping up in the beginning. A good player is going to make plays."
Which is what made the loss of
Bowman, who had made a team-high 14 tackles, stopped Seattle wideout Jermaine Kearse short of the end zone on a 3rd-and-goal play. He then stripped Baldwiin of the ball and, as he was grasping it, had his left knee bend under a Kearse.
With Bowman, who was carted off the field, Smith and Co. showed their fortitude, stopping Lynch cold on the ensuing 4th-and-goal play, forcing a fumble and handing the ball to
"We're a close 'D,' we work well together," Smith said. "We have a sense of pride as far (teams) running on us, scoring points on us, so just being on the goal line and having those stops showed that."
"We gave our offense the ball. We just have to capitalize on our opportunities."