Death, taxes and the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks having a crazy finish seem to be the only guarantees in life and Week 13 was no different. There were several momentum swings in the game followed by a number of errors and miscues for both teams that ultimately handed Seattle its fourth win of the season, and dropped the 49ers record back to .500.
"I know we're all disappointed, very frustrated," head coach Kyle Shanahan said postgame. "We felt we had a lot of self-inflicted stuff that is always caused by other teams so I'm not taking anything away from them. But I thought we had an opportunity at the beginning of the game. We were really ready to go.
"I felt like it went about an hour, it seemed like, where we barely had the ball, which was our fault. It was just frustrating. I was glad the guys, no matter how many bad things happened, they kept fighting (and) never quit."
Here are a few takeaways from the 49ers 30-23 loss in Seattle.
Hot Defensive Start, Cooler Finish
The 49ers might have been without several key players on defense, but the unit was stout for the majority of the first half. Not including Seattle's fake punt for a touchdown to open the game, the 49ers defense allowed just seven yards on 15 plays in the first quarter, including -10 yards passing.
D.J. Jones was a highlight of the day. In the first half, he notched a big run stop against Adrian Peterson and on the following play, he forced a fumble against Gerald Everett that was recovered by Emmanuel Moseley. The turnover led to a wide-open George Kittle touchdown in the back of the end zone on the very next play.
Jones was also key in assisting Arik Armstead in a Russell Wilson sack, his third of the season.
Seattle didn't notch their first, first down of the game until midway through the second quarter. That drive cut San Francisco's 17-7 lead to just three points following a Peterson 1-yard touchdown.
Nick Bosa also recorded a strip sack against Wilson for a loss of 23 yards, marking is 12th sack of the season.
Arden Key (0.5) and Jordan Willis (1.0) also recorded sacks on the day.
Although the feel of the game would tell a different story, San Francisco's defense managed to hold Seattle to just 7 points in the second half.
Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers
Fortunately for San Francisco, not all of their three giveaways resulted in points. The first, an intercepted pass intended for Trent Sherfield that landed in the arms of linebacker Bobby Wagner ended in a missed field goal attempt. On a kickoff return to open the second half, fullback Nick Bellore forced a fumble on a Travis Benjamin return that ended in a juggled would-be touchdown at the goal line that was intercepted by K'Waun Williams.
The third turnover of the game came by way of an intercepted pass by Quandre Diggs. With possession inside of 49ers territory, Wilson orchestrated a 5-play, 28-yard drive that resulted in a Tyler Lockett touchdown to re-take the lead.
Conversely, the 49ers came up with some crucial takeaways of their own. In addition to the aforementioned interception and fumble recovery, one of the biggest of the day was another forced fumble by Azeez Al-Shaair near the goal line to put the game out of reach for San Francisco. The linebacker's helmet knocked the ball loose from Everett's arms at the 49ers 2 yard line, which was recovered by Dontae Johnson.
The 49ers offense managed to march down the field 95 yards with two minutes on the clock but failed to find the end zone after a batted down pass on 4th-and-goal.
Special Teams Woes
It was a rough outing for San Francisco's special teams unit, beginning with Seattle's opening drive. Following a quick three-and-out, Seattle caught San Francisco by surprise with a fake punt that went for a touchdown to quickly put the Seahawks up 7-0. The team had a fumbled kickoff return to open the second half that set Seattle up at the 49ers 26 yard line. The unit also had a missed extra point and allowed an average of 22.4 yards on kickoff returns.
Performances of Note
Kittle had himself a day, notching two touchdowns in the first half alone. His most impressive play of the game came on a catch-and-run by the tight end who took the pass 48 yards and tight roped the sidelines for a score.
The tight end finished the day leading the 49ers with 181 receiving yards and two scores on nine receptions. He also had one carry for five yards.
Elijah Mitchell led the 49ers ground game with 66 yards on 22 carries and a score. Contrary to the 49ers more recent outings, San Francisco was limited to just 27-total rushing plays, compared to their 38-plus over the last three weeks.
"We knew it would be tough. They don't make it easy to run the ball," Shanahan said of Seattle. "I would like to go get a lot more play calls in, especially the runs, but we only got 48 total plays. So, it was going to be really hard to get that many runs."
Al-Shaair, who got the start in Fred Warner's (hamstring) absence, led San Francisco's defense with 16 tackles (11 solo), 0.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a near-interception.
"He was really good," Bosa said of the linebacker making his first start at MIKE. "He was making calls quick and getting everybody set. Yeah, I was impressed."
If it wasn't turnovers, penalties killed San Francisco on both sides of the ball on Sunday. Offensively, on drives where the team appeared to be driving down field, the unit was halted due to several false starts and holding calls. Defensively, two roughing the passer penalties and pass interference calls added to Seattle scores as well as a free 86 yards for the Seahawks.
The 49ers were penalized a total of 10 times on Sunday, compared to Seattle's six, the most they have been flagged this season. And the team's 86 yards given up due to penalties are their second most this season.
"(The penalties) were a big deal," Shanahan said. "I'll have more of an opinion when I get to watch them all, but the two personal fouls on the quarterback I thought were huge. That led to a touchdown drive. I believe one was on third down. So, those can't happen and usually you can control it. It seemed like they called it because we landed on him… We've got to not do that. It's hard to win when you have turnovers and penalties."
It was a scary sight during the opening kickoff as running back Trenton Cannon went down after colliding with a teammate's leg. It was a somber scene as both sidelines were on a knee as the special teams gunner was placed on a stretcher before leaving the game to a nearby hospital. Per the 49ers communications team, Cannon is in stable condition and will stay overnight at the hospital for further evaluation.
Cornerback Emmanuel Moseley left the game and did not return after suffering an ankle injury in the first quarter. Per Shanahan, there's no update on the severity of the injury, however, he will likely undergo testing when the team returns to the facility on Monday.
Al-Shaair (stinger), Mitchell (concussion protocol) and safety Jaquiski Tartt all left the game briefly but returned.
Running back Jeff Wilson Jr. came out of the game with an unknown injury. The team will likely provide an update on Monday.